Model and photographer Pattie Boyd on new book and being a “muse” to George Harrison and Eric Clapton
Pattie Boyd has lived many lives — as a photographer, model and even a muse for some of the most famous rock songs in the world. Now, she’s adding author to her list of accolades with her new book, “My Life in Pictures.”
Boyd became one of fashion’s first models to be recognized by name back in the 1960s.
“I loved it because I was a different person each time there was a shoot,” Boyd said about her modeling career. “I love dressing up. It’s such a sort of girly thing to do.”
Things changed in 1964 when she got a small acting role in the Beatles-led film “A Hard Day’s Night.” She said she panicked when her agent told her she got the part, but was reassured when all she had to say was one word: “Prisoners.”
It would end up changing her life.
“The end of filming, George [Harrison] asked me out and I said ‘no’ because I was seeing my boyfriend,” Boyd said. “That could’ve been it, but then, as luck would have it, or as fate would have it, a week later we were called to Twickenham Studios for one last shot with the Beatles. That’s when I dumped my boyfriend.”
The dumped boyfriend was photographer Eric Swayne. One of his portraits is on the cover of Boyd’s book.
Boyd and Harrison would marry in January 1966. He wrote the song “Something” for her. Frank Sinatra called it the “greatest love song of the last 50 years.”
In the 1970s, with Eric Clapton, who would become her second husband, she inspired two more memorable love songs, “Layla” and “Wonderful Tonight.”
Asked which was her favorite song written about her, Boyd replied, “I don’t know.” But she added, “The one that I understand, because I was there during the process, was ‘Wonderful Tonight.’ Because Eric [Clapton] wrote that as I was getting ready, and then I came downstairs thinking he’s going to be so livid with me because I’ve taken so long.”
Instead, Clapton asked her to listen to the song that he wrote.
“Oh my God, I’m off the hook,” Boyd recalled thinking. “He’s written a song.”
Clapton wrote “Layla” while Boyd was still married to Harrison. She explained the song is based on a book by a 17th-century Persian poet.
“It was obviously a beautiful, beautiful love story,” she said. “Eric just fell in love with it and was sort of in love with me, but it was slightly unrequited.”
“My Life in Pictures,” though, isn’t just about her love life. She highlights her passion for photography and how she taught herself how to be behind a camera during a career spent in front of one.
She said once she earned enough money from modeling, she purchased her first camera — a Pentax. Boyd would bring it to photography studios and ask for help and advice.
Boyd first spoke with CBS News on CBS “Sunday Morning” when her personal memoir, “Wonderful Tonight,” was released in 2007. She showed off a selection of personal prints, many of which are included in her upcoming book.
“My Life in Pictures” includes a photograph of Harrison taken after their split. It would be the last one she took of him.
“But then he came to see me much later,” Boyd said. “Just before he died, six months or so before he died. As he drove off, I knew that would be the last time I’d see him.” Harrison died of cancer in 2001.
Reflecting on her life and the years she shared with Harrison and Clapton, she said, “I feel that I had the most wonderful and fabulous experience being married to the two unreservedly talented geniuses, really.”
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