Boyd, a 19-year-old burgeoning model, wasn’t even expecting to meet the Beatles in early 1964 after she appeared in a TV commercial for Smith’s crisps that was directed by Richard Lester. A few months later, Boyd attended a casting project and unintentionally got a part in the Fab Four’s debut film, A Hard Day’s Night, which also happened to be directed by Lester.
In a 2022 interview with The Telegraph, Boyd recalled the moment she first met the band on a train along with other members of the film cast. “We were in a carriage, us girls,” she said, “and they sort of slid back the door and introduced themselves, shaking our hands. And they were so polite and charming, but they’re all giggling as well.”
Harrison invited Boyd to dinner, but she declined because she was dating photographer Eric Swayne at the time. “George Harrison asked me out!” reads Boyd’s diary entry from March 2, 1964. The following week, at a press shoot for the movie, Boyd was suddenly single and accepted Harrison’s invitation. That summer Harrison bought a home in the English countryside — his escape from Beatlemania — and Boyd soon moved in. The couple was married less than two years later on Jan. 21, 1966.
“We’re a match for each other,” Harrison told The Evening Standard that year. “People should know everything about each other before they get married; I’d like you to put that in my article. Not almost everything, but really everything. You must spill it out and get it off your chest like going to the psychiatrist. That’s the great thing about a wife, you see. She’s your best friend.”
Watch Pattie Boyd in ‘A Hard Day’s Night’
Boyd and Harrison quickly settled into married life, painting the outside of their home with psychedelic colors and enjoying a shared interest in Eastern mysticism. “I loved cooking for George and being creative,” she said. “We were vegetarians, and so I had to work even harder.”
“The great thing about getting married, you see, is that everything’s different,” Harrison noted. “Before I used to think, There’s Pattie cooking my dinner in my pots and pans. Now, they’re her pots and pans, and this house is a home.”
With Harrison’s encouragement, Boyd began to limit her modeling gigs — partly because the lifestyle was exhausting and Boyd was overwhelmed by the stress of her new public image. She had received numerous modeling opportunities, but the industry, even then, put pressure on women to maintain their figures with unhealthy dieting methods. Plus, the anxieties of being married to one of the world’s most famous people didn’t help. “People wanted to meet George, and they’d want to meet me, and I’d feel very insecure,” Boyd said in 2022. “And so I had to force myself to bring out what was hidden inside me.”
It was a relentless way of life for Boyd. “Nobody thought that role [in A Hard Day’s Night] would be significant for a start,” she said to Harper’s Bazaar in 2018. “I remember a journalist coming to our house one day and saying to George, ‘In all seriousness, when do you think the bubble is going to burst? When are the Beatles going to be finished?'”
The answer to that question arrived a few years later. As relationships among the Beatles began to splinter in the late ’60s, Boyd’s marriage to Harrison began to suffer, too. “The Beatles made him unhappy,” Boyd was quoted as saying in the 2016 book With the constant arguments. They were vicious to each other. That was really upsetting.” Boyd divorced Harrison in 1977; two years later, she married his friend Eric Clapton.
For Boyd, the end of the ’60s was tumultuous, but Peter Jackson‘s 2021 film The Beatles: Get Back brought back many positive memories. (The movie included footage of Harrison working on “Something,” a song Boyd later said he’d written specifically for her, even though Harrison never confirmed this.) “I had forgotten how really hilarious John Lennon was. He was so funny,” she said in 2022. “It was good for me to see because I could see that they were funny and they were having a nice time.”
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