“They were boy-men – immature emotionally”: Pattie Boyd recalls famous guitar battle between love rivals George Harrison and Eric Clapton

“Any annoyance, anger and irritation from George only really came out when he was playing guitar with Eric.”

[L-R] Pattie Boyd with George Harrison, and Pattie Boyd with Eric Clapton

Credit: Getty Images

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Last month, we wrote about the love triangle between model Pattie Boyd, Eric Clapton and George Harrison, when Boyd revealed a series of letters she’d received from both men. “What I wish to ask you is if you still love your husband?” Clapton wrote in 1970, for example, while Boyd was still married to Harrison.

But perhaps the best part of the story is that, according to Boyd, her two love rivals settled their differences in the most ridiculous and perfect way possible: with a guitar duel.

In a new interview with The Times, Boyd says Harrison, her first husband was oddly passive in the face of Clapton’s attempts to pursue her, but that the rivalry between the two men reached a boiling point in 1973, when they faced off in the only real appropriate way.

“John Hurt, being an actor and seeing everything as theatre, wrote about it in his memoir,” Boyd says. “John was at the house one day when Eric turned up and said to George: ‘Try this one out.’ They were playing guitars and, as John said, it was a guitar duel.

“Musicians communicate through their instrument of choice and they understand each other through music – so any annoyance, anger and irritation from George only really came out when he was playing guitar with Eric.”

Boyd says the battle didn’t result in a winner, but recalls Harrison giving Clapton brandy while he drank tea, and played the superior guitar model, suggesting he did intend to decisively defeat Clapton.

Boyd also says she saw both men – who were in their 20s at the time – as “boy-men: immature emotionally”.

“George was shy, but Eric was a bit of a chameleon,” she says. “He was always changing his look, his clothes, his bands… He wanted to remain a mystery so he kept changing. And Derek and the Dominos is Eric, so he used to have fun hiding.

Pattie Boyd and George Harrison divorced in 1977, and she married Eric Clapton two years later in 1979, with whom she stayed the next decade, before their marriage ended in 1989.

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