This Date in Music History: March 27

The Eric/George/Pattie love triangle and Sarah Vaughan's life in Jazz

click to enlarge "Bros before hos, right Eric?"
"Bros before hos, right Eric?"

On this day in 1979, the saga of one of Rock & Roll's greatest "love triangles" continued as Eric Clapton married ’60s model Pattie Boyd. According to the U.K.'s Daily Mail, Boyd met George Harrison while The Beatles were filming A Hard Day's Night and they married in 1965. The marriage wasn't unusual for a couple of 20somethings; as Harrison got deeper into spirituality, the two drifted apart. The unhappy Boyd eventually hooked up with Clapton, a close friend of Harrison's. Clapton battled heroin and alcohol during this period, but that didn't stop Boyd and the guitarist from tying the knot.

Boyd became the subject of three Rock & Roll classics — The Beatles' "Something" (written by Harrison about Boyd) and Clapton's "Layla" (featuring Slow Hand pining for his forbidden lover with Derek and the Dominos) and "Wonderful Tonight," a more romantic ballad for Boyd. (Some believe other songs, such as Clapton's "She's Waiting" and The Beatles' "For You Blue," are also inspired by Boyd.)

But the love triangle was a bit more salacious than the songs made it appear, and even more salacious than most fans knew back then. In Clapton's autobiography, he wrote, "My relationship with Pattie was not the incredibly romantic affair it has been portrayed as … rather it was built on drunken forays into the unknown." He added that Boyd, "liked to do the cocaine without the alcohol, so this became our meeting place." For his part, Harrison was never really the sad, cast-off lover some fans might think. In the recent Living in the Material World documentary about Harrison, Clapton and others say Harrison was into the free love lifestyle and didn't seem too ate up about his best mate stealing his girl. In fact, Clapton said, he gave them his blessing.

Pattie, on the other hand, found the whole ordeal "hellish." Read more about her thoughts here.

Here are the three tunes Boyd inspired (and, yes, that's Boyd in the "Something" vid with Harrison):

Click on for Born This Day featuring Jessie J, Mariah Carey, Fergie and Sarah Vaughan.
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a March 27 birthday include Jazz clarinetist Pee Wee Russell (1906); Delta Blues pioneer Robert Lockwood, Jr. (1915); Rockabilly/Country star Janis Martin (1940); keyboardist for Prog-turned-Pop stars Genesis,Tony Banks (1950), guitarist/songwriter with Australian superstars INXS, Andrew Farriss (1959); smooth Jazz saxman Dave Koz (1963); Pop diva Mariah Carey (1970); Black Eyed Peas singer Stacy Ann Ferguson, bka Fergie (1975); Pop singer/songwriter Jessie J (1988) and masterful Jazz singer Sarah Vaughan (1924).

Born in Newark, NJ, Vaughan got her start at a couple of Harlem "amateur night" competitions, including at The Apollo Theater, where her victory earned her an opening engagement with Ella Fitzgerald in 1943. Recommended to bandleader Earl Hines, Vaughan joined his touring band, which included future legends like Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. That band's vocalist Billy Eckstine later brought Vaughan along for his new group, but the first recording she cut with him caught the attention of Continental Records and Vaughan's solo career was on its way.

In the late ’40s/early ’50s, Vaughan became a star, scoring several hits during her time on Columbia Records, even though she was unhappy with the Pop material she was given to record. She left for Mercury Records (and did a stint with Roulette) which yielded more hits and recordings more satisfying to Vaughan. Her second stint with Mercury in the early ’60s wasn't as satisfying, as Jazz music's base began to shrink with rise of Rock & Roll.

Vaughan's career rebounded in the ’70s. She recorded the Stephen Sondheim song "Send in the Clowns," which became her signature tune, and toured regularly, playing with symphonies and for presidents. In the ’80s, she collaborated with Sergio Mendes, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Godley & Creme and Quincy Jones. Jones had Vaughan record a duet with Ella Fitzgerald for his album, Back on the Block, in 1989. It became her final recording and the only time the two legendary vocalists recorded together, 46 years after Vaughan opened for Ella at The Apollo and launched her career.

Vaughan died in 1989 from lung cancer. She was 66.

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