Patricia Ann Boyd was born March 17, 1945 in Hampstead, England to Colin Ian Taylor and Diana (Drysdale) Boyd. She was the first child of the Boyd family, who would soon welcome Colin (1946), Helen Mary (better known as Jenny, 1947) and Paula (1949). Pattie had a good relationship with her sisters and Colin, particularly Helen, who got her nickname from one of Pattie's favourite dolls.
The family later moved to Nairobi, Kenya, where Pattie spent most of her childhood, from 1949-1952. Her father was assigned there as a Royal Air Force pilot.
In 1952, Diane and Colin were divorced. Diane took the children back to England. She remarried around 1953 to Robert Gaymer-Jones and had two sons named David J.B. (1954) and Robert, Jr. (1955). Colin also remarried and it's unknown if he had any other children.
After she finished religious school, Pattie went to London in 1962.
After she finished religious school, Pattie went to London in 1962. Pattie got into modelling after working as a hairstylist. One of her clients asked her if she was interested in modelling. She happened to be a modelling agent and Pattie's first test shots were taken the next day.
While Pattie was trying to start a modelling career, she was rejected many times by photographers. One told her "models don't look like rabbits". Understandably, a discouraged little Pattie ran out of the room crying.
Jenny later became a model in 1965. Pattie travelled to the world's fashion capitals, usually to New York City. Pattie modelled in Paris for Mary Quant and was an ambassador to "cool Britannia" in New York City. She hung with people who always had the latest trends, such as model Jean Shrimpton and photographer David Bailey. Pattie's exposure in the press led to her getting a commercial contract from American director Richard Lester.
Lester wanted Pattie to be the Smith’s Crisps girl, to advertise for the potato chip brand. She was to be in television advertisements and do promotional appearances at stores throughout London. Around the same time, Lester was hired to direct a film for The Beatles. He was inspired by her work ethic and liked working with Pattie for the advertisements, and she became pretty well known in the London area. By this time, Lester got hired to work on the Beatles first film, A Hard Day's Night and he offered her a small role in the Beatles' first movie. Pattie was cast as a schoolgirl named Jean in the opening scene. However, her part was shortened to the line "Prisoners?" (She can also be seen during the Beatles’ performance of "I Should’ve Known Better"). Pattie later commented that it would be her last acting role, stating "I'm quite happy modelling."
After a few days of filming A Hard Days Night - March 1964 - Pattie and some of the other schoolgirls asked the Beatles for their autographs, except for John Lennon (Pattie was said to be afraid of his sarcasm). George Harrison, lead guitarist for the band, signed autographs for Pattie and her sisters. As was his custom, he put two kisses on her sister's autographs, but put seven under Pattie's.
"George hardly said hello. When we started filming, I could feel him looking at me and I was a bit embarrassed," Pattie recalls. He offered her a visit to his trailer, but, Pattie remembers, "I was loyal, not stupid. I figured he must like me a little," which is a bit of an understatement; George was smitten. Her likeness to Brigitte Bardot, the Beatles' dream girl, was enough to give George an initial attraction. He soon asked her out, but Pattie already had a boyfriend of 2 years, Eric Swayne, a 30-year-old photographer. But George was persistent, and finally Pattie agreed to one date. When she told Eric she'd made a date with George, he gave her an ultimatum: give up the date or give up him. But Pattie couldn't resist the "quiet" Beatle, and she soon began developing strong feelings for George.
Once Pattie broke up with her boyfriend, the couple was able to plan their first holiday together to Ireland with John and Cynthia. This was Pattie’s first exposure to "Beatlemania", for soon the press found out that they were there. Their holiday ruined, all they wanted now was to leave and go back to London. To avoid on their way back to London, Pattie and Cynthia disguised themselves as maids and hid in a dirty linen basket. The basket was then pushed out by a bellboy, who took them to the airport. He put the basked in the back of the truck but forgot to unlatch the top, leaving the poor girls tossing and turning in the smelly linen basked all the way to the airport. When they finally got out, John and George were laughing hysterically.
Despite the problems in Ireland, they tried for another holiday undisturbed by the press. They travelled to Waikiki, Hawaii (from May 3 to May 26, 1964). After that, they even stopped by Los Angeles, only being noticed once by the press that quickly learned the identity of George’s new girl. Oddly, George, who would learn to hate the press in later years, finally introduced Pattie as "my 29-year-old sister, my chaperone," as a joke.
Pattie's first experience with LSD took place in 1964. In the 1980's, Cynthia Lennon recounted the events of the night: "I’ll always remember that when we walked into this man’s [a one-time friend of George Harrison’s] drawing room. There were four lumps of sugar arranged along the mantelpiece. We (Cynthia & John Lennon; George and Pattie Harrison) all had a delicious dinner and lots of wine. When the coffee came, one of the four sugar lumps was put into each of our cups. It was as if we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a horror film. The room seemed to get bigger and bigger. Our host seemed to change into a demon. We were all terrified. We knew it was something evil-we had to get out of the house. But this man told us we couldn’t leave. We got away somehow, in George’s Mini, but he came after us in a taxi. It was like having the devil following us in a taxi. We tried to drive to some club-the Speakeasy, I think it was. Four of us, packed into a Mini. Everybody seemed to be going mad. Patti wanted to get out and smash all the windows along Regent Street. Then we turned around and started heading for George’s place in Esher. God knows how we got there. John was crying and banging his head against the wall. I tried to make myself sick, and couldn’t. I tried to got to sleep, and couldn’t. It was like a nightmare that wouldn’t stop, whatever you did. None of us got over it for about three days."
With their relationship now public, Pattie started writing a column for 16 Magazine called "Pattie’s Letter From London" which, among other things, included beauty tips. By early 1965, Pattie moved into George’s Esher bungalow, Kinfauns. The fans hated Pattie for taking "their George" away after they realized how serious their relationship was. At the time, the only Beatle wife that had the fans' blessing was Cynthia Lennon. Pattie received most of the torture from the fans. George's fans would stalk Pattie whenever she was out, spit at her, kick her, beat her, and some even had threats of murder if she didn't break up with George. When Pattie told George how the fans acted toward her, George went out to tell the girls to stop it, but they were too busy staring at him, not listening to him.
Things were about to get worse for the fans. George proposed to Pattie on Christmas day, 1965. Pattie would recall in 1968: "We were just motoring along [to Brian Epstein’s party] listening to the radio when suddenly he very calmly told me he loved me and wanted us to get married. I think I just said yes or some such nonsense, but believe me, inside I was doing cartwheels. We really were very much in love."
They were married on January 21, 1966 at Leatherhead and Esher Register Office in Epsom, Surrey. Brian Epstein was the best man, and Paul McCartney was the only Beatle in attendance. John and Ringo sent their best wishes, flowers, and very expensive gifts for the newlyweds. The couple were in outfits designed by Mary Quant, it was the picture perfect marriage. They posed for the obligatory wedding photos with their families, and were headed off to Barbados, where they let the press take photos of them on the beach together.
When they returned to Esher after their honeymoon, the Harrisons entertained guests. Pattie’s sisters came over a lot, because often George was out. George said he didn’t want any more press, so Pattie was to give up her budding modelling career. Her last photo shoot was with her sister, Jenny, for Vogue UK. Pattie tried to help out the poor, but the press made a big story out of it. Pattie was forced to become "a northern wife" and give up her career for the sake of her husband's.
Pattie and George did manage to conceive a child, but, sadly, she miscarried. She was told that she could never have children. Pattie was willing to adopt, but George said no.
The Harrisons had taken a trip to India in September 1966, and were fascinated by the country. When a friend suggested that Pattie hear Marharsi Mahesh Yogi speak, she thought it was a good idea. She told George, and eventually most of The Beatles and their entourage went to hear him speak. Pattie thought it would be a good idea to get spiritual fulfilment by going to this lecture. After his lecture they all decided to accompany him to his Rishikesh retreat in India. They were all having a great time and were all drug free – that is until it was learned that the Maharishi, who taught that illicit love was wrong, made a pass at Mia Farrow. The Beatles and the rest of the group were greatly disappointed, and they all went back to England, picking up their drug use once again. Their India experience had a great impact on George, who became absorbed in the culture, religion and music of the country. Pattie did not share the same feelings, and the slow end of their marriage began.
On March 12, 1969 – Paul and Linda's wedding day – the Harrisons were busted for possession of marijuana. On this day Pattie was out shopping, and when she arrived back at her car she found a pack of cigarettes on the windshield. Inside was a note and a package containing some hash. She put it in her purse and went home. Later that day, Norman Pilcher – notorious for busting rock stars on drug charges – arrived at Kinfauns when Pattie was home alone. He was strapped with a warrant to search the place for drugs. Pattie was terrified because of the hashish she'd taken home, and called George to ask what to do. George told her not to give them an argument and to just tell them where it was and give it to them, which she did. The Harrisons were taken to jail but released on bail. They plead guilty of possession of illegal substances. However, this wasn’t the first time that Pattie and George were involved in drug busts. A bit earlier in 1967, Pattie, George, Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, along with some other friends, were partying at Keith Richards' home. As usual, drugs were present, mostly LSD, but also heroin. The police knew what was going on, but with the Beatles’ lawyer David Jacobs and manager Brian Epstein, who the police respected, they were alright. Only a few hours after the Harrisons left, did the police raid the house. By the time of the Harrisons' drug bust, both David Jacobs and Brian Epstein were dead.
While their marriage was unravelling, Eric Clapton became friends with George. Eric did unaccredited work on Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and they became instant friends. Clapton would spend a lot of time with George and Pattie, and he could tell things weren't good between the couple. Drugs and George's newfound Eastern religion weedged an ever-growing gap between them. George was also having constant affairs with the "Apple Scruffs," fans that lingered outside the Abbey Road studios. Pattie was aware of her husband's infidelities, but she remained faithful for a long time. Finally, she grew so angry, she decided to make a pass at George's best friend, Eric Clapton to get her husband's attention, but the plan backfired, Eric had fallen madly in love with her. His infamous song "Layla" was written for her, but she could not leave George. Eric became severely depressed and went into seclusion, almost killing himself with a heroin addiction.
Eric's attempt to win Boyd's heart started with an affair with one of her sisters [Paula]. He also started to reject religion, which he thought caused Pattie's unhappiness. Pattie finally listened to him, and they started a brief affair, but as she would comment later, she was not one to carry on extramarital affairs. Eric's obsessive love for her fascinated and frightened her, and when he said it was either drugs or her, Pattie backed out of the relationship. Her rejection, along with the death of Clapton's good friend Jimi Hendrix, led Eric into a four-year bout of depression and drugs.
Pattie later recalled the experience: "Eric showed me this packet of heroin and said: 'Either you come away with me or I will take this'. I was appalled. I grabbed at it and tried to throw it away, but he snatched it back...At first, I felt guilt. Then I felt anger because it was totally irrational of him to blame me for something he was probably going to do anyway; it was very selfish and destructive."
While Eric went into seclusion from the public, Pattie had problems of her own. One night the couple went to the Starr's home, and George drunkenly confessed that he had a crush on Ringo's wife Maureen, and proposed to Ringo that they swap wives for the evening. Pattie locked herself in the bathroom, crying inconsolably. Later George and Maureen did have a fling. Their marriage on a downward spiral, Pattie began doing what she wanted to do, regardless of her husband's wishes. She picked up her modelling career again, and even had a brief affair with Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones. As many things began to change in her life, Pattie had a near-fatal accident in 1972.
George always loved racing cars, and when he drove along roads, he drove just as fast. Pattie was in the car when they crashed, and she was knocked out unconscious and had serious injuries, including broken ribs, cuts and bruises. She was admitted into a hospital, where she stayed for several weeks, and then had rehabilitation for a while after that. When Pattie got her strength back, she was back out again with George. Eric Clapton, even though still in depression, would often come out to some parties. On one particular night, he attended a party that the Harrisons also had gone to. Clapton got George's attention when Pattie was away, and simply told him, "I'm in love with your wife." he just replied, "Fine, you get her, I get your girlfriend." By this time, Pattie came back on the scene and was completely shocked that Eric had the nerve to tell George that he loved her and that Harrison was insensitive to her. She left angry at the both of them. But it was only a matter of time before she left George.
One night in 1974, George decided on the spur of the moment to try one more time to straighten out his marriage to Pattie, but it was too late. Pattie had flown to Los Angeles in desperation and was staying with her sister Jenny, and her husband, Mick Fleetwood. Soon after, she ran away to see Eric Clapton in Miami after having a huge argument with George. George wanted to patch it up, but it was too late.
George and Pattie's divorce was finalized June 9, 1977. Pattie and Eric were married in Tucson, AZ, Mar 27, 1979, at the Apostolic Assembly of Faith in Christ Church by the Rev. Daniel Sanchez, but only his band mates and some roadies, Roger Forrester (tour manager), and Rob and Myel Fraboni were in attendance. Pattie was staying at Rob and Myel Fraboni's in California when Eric proposed to her (over the phone, no less). Rob was best man and Myel was Matron of Honor. Another California friend, Chris O'Dell was also in the party as a Maid of Honor. Alphi O'Leary (Eric's bodyguard) and Nigel Carroll (Pattie's sister Paula's boyfriend) were ushers. There was a party at the hotel that night with the traditional cake mashing. He brought her on stage the next night in Tucson and played "Wonderful Tonight" for her. Eric had a "no girlfriend/wife on tour" rule, but he broke his own rule and allowed Pattie to accompany him on tour from Tucson, AZ (Mar 28th) until Monroe, LA (Apr 14th). Then he sent her home to Hurtwood. The real reception with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Denny Laine and Mick Jagger took place some weeks later back in England at Hurtwood Edge during a break in the tour (May 19th). But, on May 25th, Eric was back on tour in Augusta, Georgia and Pattie was left alone at Hurtwood (a situation that would often be her fate).
Pattie was again being left at Hurtwood Edge by herself. Eric's alcoholism got very bad, to the point that he went to a clinic. Pattie's efforts to help him beat his addict were trying on their relationship: "It was becoming very difficult. You'd look for the part of the person you know and love, but it was hard to find."
Pattie's fairytale marriage to Eric would soon go sour as well. The same old housewife routine was repeating itself with Eric, and Pattie became depressed. She began drinking often, and her alcoholism worsened when Eric's extramarital affairs became more and more apparent. By 1985, she had had enough. Eric had very public affairs and two children by other women, and by this time she was publicly humiliated. She knew she couldn't have children, and this was in part to blame for the failure of her marriages. They were separated, and by 1989, the divorce was finalized. "It probably took me six years to get over it, with four years of psychotherapy. My self-esteem was unbelievably low, and I found it really hard to build up relationships because I had been used to difficult people. Anybody who was sweet and nice to me was no challenge.
During this difficult time for Pattie, she refocused on her career as a professional photographer and also she became actively involved in charity work. In 1991, she co-founded SHARP with Barbara Bach, which aids drug addicts and alcoholics. That same year, Pattie met property developer Rod Weston.
Pattie has long been friends with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who "treat her like royalty", and enjoys the company of some of London's most exclusive social circles. The same members of these social circles (Barbara Bach, Christabel Durham) have also become involved in Pattie's latest project, a fundraising concert with Jools Holland and his orchestra. "I've become involved in this because of people - friends - who have been in trouble as a result of alcohol and drug abuse. It's harrowing, totally harrowing, to watch."
During a majority of Pattie's life, drugs have had their effect. Her former husband, Eric Clapton, was an alcoholic throughout their relationship. George Harrison was also involved with drugs in the 1960's and 1970's, during his marriage to her. Pattie said on the subject: "It's amazing we're all still alive."
She is very respected in the music world for never selling her extraordinary story.
An exhibition of photographs taken by Pattie Boyd during her days with Harrison and Clapton opened at the San Francisco Art Exchange on Valentine's Day 2005, titled, Through the Eye of a Muse. The exhibition also ran again in San Francisco in February 2006, and for six weeks in June and July 2006, in London. It was also on display for a few weeks at the Morrison Hotel gallery in La Jolla, California, in 2008.
The 23rd August 2007, Pattie Boyd published her memoirs "Wonderful Today", cowritten with Penny Junor. In 2008, Pattie was living in a 17th-century cottage in West Sussex, and was said to be enjoying the prospect of her autobiography competing head-to-head with Clapton's own autobiography. In the United States, Pattie's book debuted at the top of the New York Times Best Seller list.
Pattie Boyd has exhibited photographs taken during her days with George Harrison and Eric Clapton, from Through the Eyes of a Muse, at Gallery Number One, in Dublin, in August and September 2008, and in Toronto, Canada in November and December 2008, at the Great Hall. "Through the Eyes of a Muse" was also exhibited in December 2009 at the Blender Gallery in Sydney, Australia, in May 2009, in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and from 28 December 2009 to 10 January 2010 at Lancaster Great House in Barbados. In July 2011, she exhibited her photographs at Santa Catalina Island in southern California. The exhibit was titled "Yesterday and Today: The Beatles and Eric Clapton as Photographed by Pattie Boyd." In July and August, 2011, she exhibited her photographs in Moscow. It was announced that on October 12, 2011 the collection would be displayed at the National Geographic Headquarters in Washington, DC under the series "Music on ... Photography".