The last years of George Harrison’s marriage to Pattie Boyd was a slow road leading to an inevitable end. The finalisation of their divorce in 1977 was a long time coming, and Harrison wrote a song years earlier about the gradual drifting of their relationship.
Boyd was only 21 when she lived out every girl’s fantasy when George Harrison proposed. In the beginning, it seemed as though it was destiny that they’d met, however, they’d grow in different directions as time grew on. Eventually, the couple became unrecognisable to the ones who fell madly in love with one another as meditation took over Harrison’s life.
“It was really fabulous in the beginning. We were both so young, we were able to go out, hang out, play, I introduced him to my friends,” Boyd once explained. “We had a wonderful time. He’d go off on tour and I’d hang out with my friends, while we all waited for George to come back. He was really the sweetest guy, and my family loved him, my mother particularly adored him.”
While there’s much speculation surrounding how much of Harrison’s material was written directly about Boyd, the Beatle was often coy about her influence. It’s assumed that ‘Something’ was written with her in mind, but Harrison insisted: “The words are nothing, really. There are lots of songs like that in my head. I must get them down.”
Those comments were made in 1969 and already indicated that the relationship was starting to fall apart. A few years later, Harrison would begin an affair with Ringo Starr’s wife, Maureen, which would bring both marriages to an end. However, Ringo would later admit that his own infidelities also played a part in his divorce.
It was 1972 when it first dawned on Harrison – while he was in New York – that perhaps he and Patti weren’t meant to be. His affair with Maureen was yet to begin, but the writing was already on the wall for their relationship. Sitting alone in his hotel room with nothing but his thoughts to occupy him, Harrison wrote the heartbreaking song ‘So Sad’ about the collapse of his marriage.
On the track, he wallows, “And he feels so alone, With no love of his own, So sad, so bad, so sad, so bad, Take the dawn of the day, And give it away, To someone who can fill the part, Of the dream we once held, Now it’s got to be shelved. It’s too late to make a new start.”
While Harrison knew that their time together was over, he couldn’t bring himself to end the relationship with Boyd and instead endeavoured to make it work. Alas, two years later, he wrote ‘So Sad’, and his affair emerged. Boyd would later leave him for Eric Clapton, who had pursued Boyd for years. Curiously, despite everything they put one another through over their marriage, they remained amicable, and Harrison even performed at her wedding to Clapton.