On this day, 41 years ago and almost ten years following their split, The Beatles would reunite in 1979 at their great friend Eric Clapton’s wedding to Pattie Boyd—the model who was also George Harrison’s ex-wife and the muse for The Beatles song ‘Something’.
Harrison had split from Boyd in 1974 and their divorce had been finalised by 1977 which 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 to 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 also because of frequent infidelities on his part rather than Maureen’s affair with Harrison.
Having your wife’s ex-husband as a musical guest may seem a bit strange and, of course, it undeniably is—but it is not every day that the musician in question happens to be a founding member of The Beatles. Eric Clapton and George Harrison remained great friends even after Clapton released an ode to George’s then-wife in 1973 with the song ‘Layla’.
Boyd wrote in her autobiography how the two musicians remaining friends completely shocked her: “The first Christmas after I’d left him, in 1974, just as Eric and I were sitting down to lunch, George burst in, uninvited,” she said. “He had some wine and Christmas pudding with us. I couldn’t believe how friendly he and Eric were towards each other.”
Harrison and Clapton would go on to record together many times throughout their careers and would even tour together in the ’90s after Clapton and Boyd were granted a divorce, the two musician’s friendship lasting longer than both their marriages to the former model.
Harrison would take to the stage at the star-studded wedding reception—which included the likes of Mick Jagger and Elton John in attendance—where he performed a boozed-up set and got by with a little help from his friends Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
The trio would blunder their way through renditions of ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, ‘Get Back’ and ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy‘. The set would later be described by Denny Laine from Wings as being “absolute rubbish” which should in no way deflect from it being an important moment in the history of The Beatles as they shared the stage once again.
John Lennon was not performing with them that night for unknown reasons which, it has to be said, may well just be down to him being based in America and was unable to come back for the wedding. Unfortunately, it meant it would just be The Threetles who performed at the wedding but it was still a landmark event nonetheless.