Eric Clapton, one of the most famous and influential blues and rock guitarists of all time, turns 78 today. Born on March 30, 1945 in Ripley, in the English county of Surrey, over his long career he has collaborated with numerous acclaimed artists and played in numerous groups (above all Cream and Derek and the Dominos) before establishing himself as a soloist. But he also made headlines for his tumultuous private life, from his marriage to Pattie Boyd-ex of his friend George Harrison-to the story with the Italian showgirl Lory Del Santo.
Patricia Anne Boyd (known as Pattie), one of the most famous models of Swinging London, was only 19 years old when she met George Harrison – guitarist of the Beatles – during the filming of the film “A Hard Day’s Night”. The couple, popular and highly envied, got married in 1966. But the Fab Four’s trip to India and mutual infidelities undermined the relationship. Eric Clapton entered the scene in the late 1960s: a great friend of the Beatles – and of George in particular – he began to frequent the couple’s house. He fell head over heels for his friend’s wife and went so far as to fake a flirtation with Pattie’s sister, Paula, to win her over. Finally he tried her love song card: he wrote “Layla” for her.
The wedding with Pattie Boyd
Patti didn’t give in at first. â€˜He wanted to push me in a direction I didnâ€™t want to go. But when I realized that I had inspired such passion and creativity, the song knocked me out. I couldn’t hold out a minute longer,” Boyd wrote in her memoirs published in 2007. In 1974, she decided to leave her husband. She took refuge in the arms of Clapton, whom she married in Tucson, Arizona, in 1979. Following her wedding, the guitarist wrote her a new (beautiful) song: “Wonderful Tonight”. However, the union was not a happy one, marred by the musician’s conduct (altered by the abuse of alcohol and drugs) and by the constant betrayals.
The relationship with Yvonne Kelly
While working on Behind the Sun, an album released in March 1985, Clapton began a relationship with Yvonne Kelly, manager of AIR Studios in Montserrat (the studio where the album was recorded). Both were married (Clapton temporarily broke off his marriage to Pattie Boyd at this time). The fruit of that relationship was Ruth Kelly Clapton, born in January 1985.
Relationship with daughter Ruth
The relationship between father and daughter has long been a complicated relationship. Ruth’s very existence was publicly revealed only years later, after the death of Conor, Clapton’s son by Lory Del Santo: Ruth and her mother Yvonne actually attended her funeral. â€˜Yvonne knew she would be helpful, and she was. I was able to hold a baby again and be held by a baby. Ruth has been very supportive. I had no idea how much power a child could have », wrote the rocker in 2007 in his autobiography.
Lory Del Santo and the disappearance of his son Conor
Â«In Milan, I find myself at dinner sitting next to this homeless musician. I didn’t know who he was, I give him the number. The next day, Corriere della Sera was talking about his highly successful concert». This is what Lory Del Santo told Corriere last year about his first meeting with Eric Clapton in the 1980s. In 1986 the showgirl gave birth to little Conor, who died tragically in New York on March 20, 1991: he fell into the void from a window left open on the 53rd floor of the skyscraper where he lived with her mother. In 1992, the guitarist dedicated the poignant ballad “Tears in Heaven” to little Conor. “Conor was the first thing that happened to me in my life to touch me deeply, to tell me it was time to grow up, I couldn’t ruin this thing. It was unexpected as if the child was looking for parents. He is stupendous, marvelous.’
During their marriage Clapton and Boyd had tried several times to have children, including through in vitro fertilization, without success. This drama, coupled with Clapton’s repeated infidelities and behavior, thrust the couple into a deep crisis. In 1989 the divorce came. Today Pattie Boyd is happily married to property developer Rod Weston, whom she met during a holiday in Sri Lanka in the late 1980s (the wedding was celebrated in 2015 in London).
The second marriage to Melia McEnery
In 1998, 53-year-old Eric Clapton met 22-year-old Melia McEnery (who was collaborating with the fashion house at the time) at an Armani party. ‘My uncle is a big fan of yours, can I have your autograph?’ she asked him. From that moment on, the two began dating. A year later the relationship was made official and in 2002, surprisingly, the couple got married in St Mary Magdelen Church in Ripley (surrey village where the musician was born). Eric and Melia had already had a daughter, Julie Rose (2001). In 2003, another daughter, Ella May, was born, followed in 2005 by Sophie Belle.