The images show some of the best-known names in pop music history in unguarded casual poses. The photographer, the former wife of George Harrison and Eric Clapton, certainly had a unique vantage point.
For many years, Pattie Boyd was celebrated in song but kept a low public profile. On Thursday, she spoke about her life ahead of a new exhibit of her photos in San Francisco.
Pausing in front of her photo of Harrison and blues guitar maestro Clapton together with cigarettes in their hands in the mid-1970s, she reflected on the end of her marriage to the former Beatle around that time.
She said Clapton was not to blame. "There was a natural ending to my relationship with George as husband and wife."
The blond-haired, English-born Boyd met Harrison during the 1964 filming of "A Hard Day's Night" in which she had a small part. The two struck up a relationship and she later inspired Harrison's best-known love song, "Something."
"What he couldn't understand is why he was famous," she said before an image of Harrison in the British countryside. "He came from humble beginnings and the struggle (to achieve fame) was not that great." Harrison died in 2001.
Clapton also grew smitten with her and wrote the plaintive 1970 song "Layla" for her. "Layla, you've got me on my knees. Layla, I'm begging, darling please," Clapton sang to Boyd.
"It was kind of embarrassing because something that is clearly meant to be quite intimate and between two people was now going to be heard by hundreds of people," she said.
Clapton eventually won her heart, and the two married in 1979 (they divorced in 1988). She never learnt to play the guitar, although she sang background vocals on the Beatles "All You Need is Love" and "Yellow Submarine."
INSPIRED INDIA TRIP
As she walked through the San Francisco Art Exchange, she noted how often Clapton's appearance changed.
"Look at the sideburns," an amused Boyd said of one image. "He could change his appearance incredibly, scruffy one day, smart the next."
In another image of Clapton, she noted it was clearly daytime as he was depicted with a glass of whiskey nearby, something she said was very much part of his life at the time. Boyd was also present at noted episodes involving drugs in Beatle lore, including the first time Harrison and John Lennon took LSD.
"We were spiked. We went to what we thought was a rather grown-up dinner party and we were told to drink the coffee," she said. "We told our host that we were going to go, we wanted to go to a club, and he said, "No, no, no, you've had LSD."
"It was very, very scary."
Boyd's interest in meditation helped lead the band to its famous retreat in India with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Several photos she found mislabelled in her archives a few years ago show the Beatles relaxed during their time there when they wrote many of the songs that appeared on the "White Album."
"It was wonderful and it was inspiring," she said of the retreat. But "it was not a fluffy towel holiday."
The former model first staged a big photography show in San Francisco last year, when she sold $150,000 of images, said gallery owner Theron Kabrich. Several images, which include images of the Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck and newer travel photos, have already sold, even though her latest exhibit formally opens only on Friday.
"I mean they are not great shots, they are not great photographs because they are just snaps recording a certain point in time," said Boyd, who now lives alone. "I just knew all these people. They were all just like friends."
Friday, February 17, 2006