Diann Blakely's Reviews > Wonderful Tonight

Wonderful Tonight by Pattie Boyd
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Oct 09, 11

Read in January, 2007

While Pattie Boyd [Harrison Clapton]’s memoir appeared only a few months before Clapton's own, don’t assume that her book is dismissible as an aging groupie’s remembrances. Boyd, while married to George Harrison, became Eric Clapton’s obsession; then after divorce, she became his wife, then his ex-wife. Boyd inspired the classic “Layla” when she initially sent away the besotted Clapton with the reminder that George was his best friend. Clapton’s petulant and self-destructive rejoinder was that she’d left him no choice but to become a heroin adddict. Boyd stuck it out at home until her husband’s own intoxicant use and compulsive womanizing made her seek out Clapton again—“I tried to give you consolation / When your old man let you down.” Boyd was let down for most of her life: an awful childhood jolted her from her beloved early home in Kenya to cold dreary England, where she had too many uncaring paternal figures and too little motherly attention, in addition to doing time as a quasi-orphan. If Clapton was deliberately led to believe that his mother was his sister, he at least had the advantage of a stable upbringing by his doting grandparents.

The Boyd-Clapton union broke up, perhaps inevitably, perhaps because of Clapton’s infidelity—which included fathering Conor, the child who later died tragically in a fall—and his lingering sense of guilt over betraying his best friend, and perhaps because he stopped using heroin only to take up drinking voluminous amounts of brandy, vodka and beer. Yet while Clapton’s music served as the outlet for some of his demons, Boyd could only create a role as his muse, always wanting to look—and be—“wonderful tonight.” The role usually snuffs out a woman’s individuality, not to mention any creative urge she might have. Boyd, defying the odds and the tradition, has produced a distinguished body of work as a photographer, and two exhibitions gave her the courage to write this candid, ultimately sweet-hearted memoir.




((originally published in the NASHVILLE SCENE)
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