Eric Clapton was not a happy man. On stage in front of 15,000 adoring fans at the lavish open-air venue, he was plagued by the draining summer heat and a particularly persistent mosquito.
“As he’s become older he gets miserable when it’s too hot,” says a member of the rock star’s entourage. “He was bothered by the flies and his glasses kept steaming up.”
Holed up in her 17th-century cottage in the West Sussex countryside, Pattie Boyd, Clapton’s ex-wife and the woman he stole from Beatle George Harrison, had working feverishly on her autobiography.
The book, which breaks her 40-year self-imposed silence over her marriages to two of the biggest music stars of the 20th century, was described to ‘full and frank’.
In other words, in exchange for her rumoured £950,000 advance, ex-model Pattie will be expected to dish the dirt about the sex, drugs and infidelities in her relationships with both the legends.
And to use the vernacular, Boyd certainly knows where the bodies are buried. Worse still for Clapton, her tome went head-to-head in a sales war with his own book (and, it is rumoured, highly sanitised) £3.5 million life story. No wonder the guitar king was feeling the heat.
Pattie’s account of her life with Clapton is sure to tarnish his image as one of rock’s gentlemen. Particularly as, the Mail has learnt, she intends to lay bare the bizarre details of how the singer agreed to swop his own girlfriend for Pattie as a trade-off with George Harrison.
She is also said to be planning to tell the full story about dark rumours that during their nine-year marriage, Clapton, battling an addiction to drink and drugs, was an abusive and violent husband who cheated on her with a string of women because she couldn’t bear him children..
To compound his problems, Pattie’s memoirs come at the same time that another lover, Italian Lori Del Santo, whose four-year-old son with Clapton, Conor, died when he fell from a New York skyscraper, is penning her own version of events, which will allege that Clapton dispatched an aide to persuade her to have an abortion when he discovered she was pregnant.
The public school-educated daughter of an RAF pilot, Pattie was a 20-year-old model when she was chosen to make a fleeting appearance in the 1964 Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night. The well-bred trophy girl caught the eye of Harrison and the couple married in 1966.
But it is her description of her relationship with another Beatle, John Lennon, that will be most fascinating. Rumours abound among those who surrounded the group that Lennon and Pattie enjoyed a brief fling during her marriage to George.
What is certainly true is that Lennon shared with his friend Mick Jagger a sexual obsession with Pattie, which he documented in a series of graphic diary entries.
Indeed, the blatant flirting between John and Pattie at a party at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel in December 1968 led to singer Lulu stepping in to remonstrate on behalf of Lennon’s long-suffering wife Cynthia.
But it was Pattie’s relationship with Clapton that was to wreck her marriage to George. She and Harrison met the guitarist, then with Sixties supergroup Cream, at a party in Chelsea in November 1968.
The two men became immediate best friends, but Clapton, who was living with his teenage girlfriend Alice Ormsby-Gore, the daughter of Lord Harlech, fell passionately for the lovely Pattie.
When she rejected his entreaties for her to leave Harrison for him, he wrote the tortured love song Layla for her. Eventually, as George became more and more obsessed with the teachings of his new spiritual guru, Pattie fell into Eric’s arms.
They continued their affair behind George’s back. It was not Pattie’s first affair either. In the early Seventies, Harrison and guitarist Ronnie Wood, who would go on to join the Rolling Stones, negotiated a wife swop, with Pattie escorting Wood on holiday to the Bahamas while George took Ronnie’s then wife Krissy to his rented villa in Portugal.
By the time of their 1979 wedding in Tucson, Arizona, the guitarist was in the midst of a monumental addiction to cocaine. Just days before he asked her to marry him, he had begun a fling under Pattie’s nose with one of her best friends.
She constantly forgave his affairs and his drinking sessions, which would start at 8am and last all day. But in 1982 she persuaded the star to check into the Hazelden Foundation drying-out clinic in Minnesota..
But it was Pattie’s inability to have children that proved the death knell for their marriage.
Meanwhile, Clapton began an affair with studio sound assistant Yvonne Kelly while recording in Montserrat in 1985, and she gave birth to his daughter Ruth.
Pattie was kept in the dark about the baby.
But when beautiful television presenter Lori Del Santo, with whom he had begun a tempestuous affair, presented Clapton with a son, Conor, a year later, Pattie moved out.
Pattie has consistently refused big money offers to tell her story about her relationships with the two rock stars, and remained on good terms with George until his death from cancer in 2001.
Likewise, she stayed in touch with Clapton after their divorce and even attended the funeral of Conor in 1991.Asked once who was the great love of her life, Boyd nominated Harrison: “I think he always loved me … Eric loves himself. She admits now: “In both my marriages I had neglected myself, and got lost in a big cloud of fame, I got lost in their lives.”