Eric Clapton and George Harrison were as close friends as you could get, they shared the stage countless times together and remarkably, their friendship even survived when Harrison’s ex-wife Pattie Boyd remarried to Clapton. Slowhand had fallen in love with Boyd whilst she was still with the Beatle, which made chances of the two of them ever being together extremely slim. Clapton even allegedly resorted to voodoo as he hoped and prayed to be with his dream love.
Harrison and Boyd had married in 1966 but as the years went on they grew apart from each other rather than growing together. Their split would finally come in 1974 and their divorce would be finalised by 1977. The result of the divorce was largely down to George’s frequent infidelities, Boyd once stating that his affair with Ringo Starr’s then-wife Maureen was the final straw which ended their marriage. The guitarist would then go on to remarry to Olivia Arias in 1978 who he would spend the rest of his life with. Ringo would subsequently be granted a divorce in 1975 which, he later admitted, was mainly because of extramarital activities on his part rather than Maureen’s affair with Harrison.
In the late 1960s, Clapton and Harrison became close friends then gradually began writing and recording music together. This is when Clapton fell in love with Boyd. In an effort to satisfy his infatuation, Clapton briefly went as far as dating Boyd’s sister Paula. In 1970, his mind couldn’t escape from thinking about her and his album with Derek and the Dominos, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs is a story of his unrequited love for Boyd. Clapton later said that he drew inspiration from The Story of Layla and Majnun by Persian writer Nizami. The story tells the tale pf seventh-century Nejdi Bedouin poet Qays ibn Al-Mulawwah and his lover Layla bint Mahdi, it was an example of unattainable love that Clapton found easy to connect with.
According to The Daily Mail, the extremity of his obsession meant that he sought help from the supernatural in the form of a white blues singer and pianist called Dr John, who was said to have magical voodoo powers. Eric went to Dr John in June 1970, he told the witch doctor all about his woes, his struggle to get the attention of Boyd and his terrible situation. Dr John had a remedy and Clapton was then given ‘love potion number 9’, which he was told would make her leave George for him.
Clapton left with a small box of woven straw he was instructed to carry in his pocket and written instructions for a ritual that would cast the necessary spell that would, in turn, make his dream come true. The next time that they would cross paths would only be a couple of weeks later when Clapton and Boyd both attended the first night of the musical Oh! Calcutta! in the West End.
Harrison chose to stay at home rather than attend the musical but felt compelled at the last minute to attend the afterparty and little did he know what he was about to be confronted with upon arrival. “He asked what was going on,” Boyd recalled to the Daily Mail about Harrison’s reaction to seeing them two together when he arrived, “and to my horror, Eric said, ‘I have to tell you, man, that I’m I love with your wife.'”
Later in 1970, he chanced his arm one more time at Friar Park and gave Boyd a hideous ultimatum that if she didn’t leave Harrison for him he was going to lose himself to heroin. When she said no, that’s exactly what he did and spent the next three years battling his heroin addiction. It was a dark period for one of rock’s brightest figures.
Once he had beaten his addiction in 1974, Clapton again pursued Boyd, and after she had grown tired of Harrison’s infidelity she decided to hedge her bets with Clapton. The two of them married in 1979, they remained friendly with Harrison, who took to calling Clapton his ‘husband-in-law’ and even performed at their wedding.
Clapton and Boyd would divorce less than a decade later, however, Harrison spent the rest of his days happily married to Olivia, so if this ‘voodoo’ from Slowhand did work it was The Beatles guitarist who was the greatest benefactor.