Classic Rock History: Layla by Eric Clapton
Classic Rock History: "Layla" by Eric Clapton
In 1966, Beatles guitarist George Harrison married Pattie Boyd, a model he met during the filming of A Hard Day's Night. During the late 1960s, Eric Clapton and George Harrison became close friends. Clapton contributed uncredited guitar work on Harrison's song "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on the Beatles' White Album, and Harrison co-wrote and played guitar pseudonymously (as L'Angelo Misterioso) on Cream's "Badge" from Goodbye. However, between his tenures in Cream and Blind Faith, Clapton fell in love with Pattie Boyd.
The song was inspired by a love story that originated in 7th-century Arabia and later formed the basis of The Story of Layla and Majnun by the 12th-century Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi. The book moved Clapton profoundly, because it was the tale of a young man who fell hopelessly in love with a beautiful young girl, went crazy and so could not marry her. The song was further inspired by Clapton's then-unrequited love for Pattie Boyd.
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Boyd divorced Harrison in 1977 and married Clapton in 1979 during a concert stop in Tucson, Arizona. Harrison was not bitter about the divorce and attended Clapton's wedding party with fellow Beatles Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. During their relationship, Clapton wrote another love ballad for Pattie, "Wonderful Tonight" (1977). Clapton and Boyd divorced in 1988.
"Layla" was written by Eric Clapton and Jim Gordon, originally released by their blues rock band Derek and the Dominos, as the 13th track from their only studio album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (November 1970). Its contrasting movements were reportedly composed separately by Clapton and Gordon.