Something in the way she moved attracted not only Beatles legend George Harrison but also guitar god Eric Clapton.

Pattie Boyd is the muse who inspired the music giants to write among the greatest love songs of the 20th century – Something, Layla and Wonderful Tonight.

The Vogue cover model who wed first the Beatles pin-up, breaking fans' hearts around the world, and then Clapton who immortalised his desire for her with chart-topping Layla while she was still with Harrison.

Boyd is bringing her extraordinary life story to audiences here, with a show in May at the Auckland Museum.


She will share memories, film footage and personal photographs from her incredible time with many of the brightest stars of rock'n'roll.

Speaking from her cottage in West Sussex, Boyd says her show traverses "when I first started modelling… the makeup and the clothes from the 60s.

"When I met the Beatles and I was in the film A Hard Day's Night. And then my life with George, which was fun, and then the tragic end to that marriage. And then, sometime later, a relationship with Eric Clapton."

Boyd, 74, says it will be a "brutally honest" account of a life of dazzling highs and terrible lows. "There's no point in hiding from the truth, because it doesn't tell the correct story."

Her story has a remarkable start, with early childhood years growing up in Kenya, where her father had a farm and bred racehorses.

When the family returned to England she went to boarding school and initially struggled to relate to schoolmates.

"I had no idea what the girls were talking about. I had no reference point. Because all I could talk about was Africa, and how a giraffe would get lost from the wilderness and find himself in our garden or cheetahs would come up."

At 17 she moved to London and worked as a shampoo girl at Elizabeth Arden's salon. A client who worked for a fashion magazine suggested she try modelling, and she went on to appear in TV commercials, fashion magazines and on the cover of the UK and Italian editions of Vogue.

At 19 she appeared in the Beatles smash-hit movie A Hard Day's Night. Boyd was cast as a schoolgirl on a train, and had only one line – asking "Prisoners?".

"I hated wearing the school uniform. I thought, this is not a way to meet people who are quite cool and rock and roll," she says laughing.

However, she not only met Harrison, but there was immediate chemistry.

"He said, 'Let's sit together for lunch. And I [felt] like, oh god this is exciting'."

Harrison was "so good looking".

"His eyes were the most glorious brown velvet colour, they were just so beautiful. And he had this extraordinary accent.

"But I could [also] tell that he was rather shy, which was appealing to me, 'cause I'm rather shy. There was a nice sort of empathy between us."

Harrison "asked me if I would go out with him that night. And I said no, I couldn't 'cause I was seeing my boyfriend. And his face dropped."

He did not remain discouraged however, asking her to marry him that same first day. "I thought he was joking."

Relating her experience, "my girlfriend said, 'Are you mad? Why did you turn down George Harrison?".

Several days later, the relationship with her photographer boyfriend was over and Boyd went out with Harrison.

In 1966, at 21, she married him, making her one of the most envied women in the world.

"I got hate mail. Mainly from girls in America. They were saying things like George was theirs and they loved him and how dare I get in the way, and how they hate me."

She says life with Harrison and the Beatles was exciting.

"Days would just be so heady. We never had weekends, it was all wonderful days.

"When I was married to George, days and night went into each other, and every day was fabulous and not distinct from another."

John Lennon was "very interesting and exciting to be with".

"He could be a little nerve-racking because you never would know what he was going to say. He had such a sharp wit."

Paul McCartney "was very amusing". "He was fun. He was enchanting actually."

Ringo Starr was "always fun". "Ringo just lived to make people laugh I think."

"George was much quieter than the others. He was more laid-back. He didn't really like to be the centre of attention."

Boyd brought out the musical best in Harrison. The hauntingly beautiful Something, which he wrote for her, is said to be the second-most covered Beatles song after Yesterday.

Returning from the music studio one morning, Harrison produced a cassette tape and said, "Listen to this. I wrote this for you".

"And I said, oh my gosh, this is unbelievable, this is a really beautiful song."

Two years later, another love song dedicated to her was released to the world. But by Harrison's friend Clapton.

Layla, hailed as one of the greatest rock songs of all time, was inspired by Clapton's unrequited love for Boyd.

She said when Clapton first played the song for her, she thought, "oh my God this is absolutely an amazing song".

"And then I… thought, 'oh God I hope nobody knows it's about me' because at the time I was still married to George.

"And then in fact Eric and I didn't get together for four years after that."

Though the lyrics in Something include "Somewhere in her smile she knows, That I don't need no other lover", Boyd says that "turned out not to be true".

Asked if Harrison had wanted his freedom, she says: "No, I think, bless him, he just wanted everything."

She says they "drifted apart".

"It just wasn't working. And both of us could not really see a way of keeping the marriage alive. It was all too painful. We were hurting each other."

She and Harrison separated in 1974, and divorced in 1977.

Boyd wed Clapton in 1979.

He wrote the ballad Wonderful Tonight for her while waiting for her to get ready to attend a party.

"I said, I'm going to go upstairs and get ready, I won't be long.

"I just couldn't work out what to wear. I was trying on trousers and jeans and tops and dresses, and everything came out of the wardrobe.

"I finally came downstairs thinking he's going to be so mad at me because I've taken so long. And instead he said, 'oh, listen to this song I've just written while you're getting ready'. And then he played it on the guitar."

Boyd says the good times with Clapton were "wonderful". "Huge fun. And I also went on tour with him, which I never did with the Beatles."

But the marriage became strained as Clapton - who is now three decades sober - struggled with alcoholism.

"I found it increasingly difficult to live with an alcoholic… the insecurity it encourages and the tensions and the inability to communicate properly," Boyd says.

"To live with an addict of any kind… it is really difficult. Because it's so one-sided. And then the one who's not the addict becomes co-dependent."

She and Clapton divorced in 1989. She says the split was "beyond painful for years".

"For about four years, all my dreams were always about going back to Eric.

"I was at my lowest ebb in my entire life. And I found life unbearable…

"It was almost a divorce from both George and Eric, because I now realised I wasn't Mrs Famous George or Eric.

"And without being married to someone famous, I thought that I was nothing."

In her mid-40s she had to "build up a life and create myself".

"I never had to put petrol in the car, pay any bills. I didn't know about all these things. It was a massive learning curve, between tears."

Boyd rediscovered her identity through photography, which she had taken up as a hobby after saving modelling money to buy her first camera – a Pentax.

She was invited to have an exhibition, Through the Eye of a Muse, at San Francisco in 2005. Her photography has since been shown around the world.

In 2007 she published her autobiography, which debuted at the top of the New York Times Best Seller List.

Boyd says her "life now is absolutely wonderful".

She married property developer Rod Weston in 2015, after two decades together.

"He's very creative… and he has a brilliant sense of humour. And he's a really nice guy."

The couple have "the most fabulous dog, an Irish terrier, who is our baby". His name - "Freddie, like Freddie Mercury".

An exhibition of Boyd's photographic work will be shown in Sydney to coincide with her show, which she will hold there and in Melbourne before flying to Auckland.

She is looking forward to her first visit to New Zealand. "I understand it's unbelievably beautiful."

Boyd will be here for three or four days and hopes to tour the countryside.

The MC for her show at Auckland Museum will be her friend, now New Zealand-based Richard O'Brien, writer of The Rocky Horror Show.

She met O'Brien when he was living nearby her in West Sussex. She also photographed him for OK! magazine.

Boyd last saw Harrison shortly before his death, from cancer, in 2001.

"About four or five months before he died, he came over here to this house where I am now to see me. And I knew he wasn't well.

"He just was so divine and he brought a little gift for me and he played me some music he'd been working on.

"And I knew he was really coming to say goodbye."

She still misses him.

Asked how she feels about being the muse to such powerful and popular love songs, Boyd says: "People will say, what have you got, why did they write (them for her)?

"I don't know. Nobody knows what they have to inspire someone else.

"But I think the music is obviously in these very creative people anyway - it bounced off me. I happened to be there at the time. So, I'm flattered and I'm delighted and I'm very lucky."

George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Me: An Evening with Pattie Boyd. Auckland Museum. May 19.