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Wonderful Today - Pattie Boyd with Penny Junor
on 22 September 2007
In this long-awaited autobiography of Pattie Boyd's life, including her two legendary ten-years-or-so marriages to two of rock's biggest names, Eric Clapton and George Harrison, co-author Penny Junor has managed to coax a great many interesting revelations and stories from a very private, somewhat reluctant and reticent Pattie. And so she is to be commended.
The book starts with a fairly unremarkable middle-class upbringing - even though she spends some of her early youth in Kenya, her father is disfigured in the war and her parents ultimately split up and she has to come to terms with a new 'wicked' stepfather, it all nevertheless seems very British and reserved.
Certainly, Pattie doesn't excel academically. But Pattie's rare beauty leads her into the modelling world which is the springboard to her encounters with the rich and famous, including George Harrison, where her looks and attractive personality immediately win him over. Even at the first meeting she is betrayed by her decent upbringing - she turns down a date with 'THE FAMOUS BEATLE' George Harrison because she already has a boyfriend. Not many young girls at the time would have given it a second thought. We also discover that Pattie had not even heard a Beatles album until then, so she shares something in common with Yoko Ono who also claimed to be totally unfamiliar with their work when she first 'bumped into' John.
We learn a great deal about her early cosy relationship with George and her dealings within the Beatles 'inner circle' and how the couple just drifted apart, Pattie feeling neglected. The surreal existence that was being a Beatles wife is made manifest, and it was enough to test the strongest of relationships. It's ironic that Pattie introduced George and The Beatles to the Maharishi and to meditation and chanting and it was this road, as well as 'experimentation' with drugs, that led to George and she becoming isolated and distant from each other. Pattie says that some relationships just have a natural time-span and this was one of them - they remained good friends.
The relationship with Clapton is much darker and tougher to fathom. He clearly loved her, but It's actually hard to read about some of the drink and drug-induced abuse and Pattie is to be congratulated on exorcising these particular demons. Clapton's unfaithfulness is probably par for the course for rock stars, but he would have retrieved some credibility and dignity if he had been seen to have done the decent thing financially when they eventually split up. There was no doubt that he could afford it and there's no doubting who has the moral high ground now.
It's odd that such an apparently ordinary and straight-laced girl, albeit of incredible beauty, should have appealed to these two very musical men and created such a fervour and passion, and to have inspired some of the greatest popular songs ever written.
Pattie claims that her 'failed' marriages and experience have made her a better person, and perhaps that's true. I like to think that people can take something from adversity and that it can have a positive 'purpose'. She now lives alone, although definitely not a lonely figure, and makes a living from photography (and now from writing.) Having seen and heard her recently at a publicity event, she certainly comes across as a grounded, decent, positive and happy person with no bitterness and a zest for life.
Not bad for a rock chick.