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25 March 2022, 13:03
On the first day they met, it was love at first sight.
George Harrison met his first wife Pattie Boyd during the filming of A Hard Day's Night in 1964, when The Beatles were still on their meteoric rise to international stardom.
Having only known each other for a few hours, George supposedly even asked Pattie to marry him that day.
Romance blossomed and not long after in 1966 they tied the knot, and remained married for 11 years.
It wasn't quite the fairytale romance, breaking up four years prior to their divorce due to numerous infidelities on both sides.
One of rock music's most infamous affairs took place during their marriage, as Boyd fell in love with George's good friend Eric Clapton, who would later marry Boyd himself.
The model and photographer even inspired some of George's and Eric's greatest songs, such as The Beatles' 'Something' from Abbey Road, 'Layla' by Derek and the Dominoes, and Clapton's solo classic 'Wonderful Tonight'.
Though their break-up was acrimonious at first, George and Pattie kept in touch (he would even play guitar at her wedding to Eric) and would meet in an emotional last goodbye months before Harrison's death.
In 1997, George was diagnosed with cancer which sparked the beginning of a stressful few years.
He sought treatment around the world for what was initially lung cancer, but eventually spread meaning he needed treatment for a brain tumour also.
Speaking about his initial diagnosis, George said he got it "purely from smoking."
"I gave up cigarettes many years ago but had started again for a while and then stopped in 1997."
"Luckily for me, they found that this nodule was more of a warning than anything else. It reminds you that anything can happen."
Sadly he was fighting a losing battle, after several courses of radiotherapy didn't halt the cancer coming back. At that point, the typically calm, measured, and spiritual individual made his peace with the world and accepted his fate.
George kept his illness to himself, but began reaching out to his friends and family to see them one last time, even though they weren't aware that would be the case.
And so he arranged to meet Pattie in 2001 - his former lover and wife of 11 years - only months before he passed away.
“About three months before he died, he was in my area. He was going to see Ringo, and he popped in" Boyd explained.
"He brought me a few little gifts and some music to listen to - it was really sweet."
But Pattie knew something wasn't right, even though George would remain gently funny and upbeat as per usual.
She went on to say: "I knew he wasn’t well, I realised that he knew he wasn’t well."
Pattie knew George was ill, and felt as though he was saying goodbye. But given the length of time they hadn't seen each other, she didn't mention anything.
"In a way, I think he was coming to say goodbye. I could see he was very drawn, and he was using energy more than he needed to, to appear up and happy. You could sense he wasn’t well."
George lost his battle with cancer only months later, and died on November 29th, 2001.
But at least they both got to say goodbye, though Pattie was devastated after hearing the news that her ex-husband had passed away.
In her 2007 memoir, Wonderful Today, Boyd recalled the time she found out that George had died.
"I burst into tears when I heard he had died; I felt completely bereft. I couldn't bear the thought of a world without George."
George evidently held Pattie close to his heart until his dying hours, as Pattie recalled he would always be there for her.
"When I left him for Eric, he had said that if things didn't work out, I could always come to him. It was such a selfless, loving thing to say. Now that sense of security had gone."
"I think I'll miss George for the rest of my life. I would have incredibly vivid dreams that he was alive. Then I would wake up and the reality would wash over me."
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