Pattie & Jenny Boyd: Music’s Marvelous Muses

pattie boyd

Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger tried and failed to seduce fashion model Pattie Boyd, while Donovan tried and failed to seduce her younger sister, Jenny. The latter got an upbeat, hippy-dippy ditty out of it, “Jennifer Juniper,” which appeared on the 1968 album, The Hurdy Gurdy Man. It’s debatable whether Mick penned any lyrics about Pattie but regardless, she’s earned her muse merit badge through songs like The Beatles’ “Something” and Eric Clapton’s “Layla.”

Swept up in a tsunami of must-have sixties swag—which included micromini dresses, platform sandals, Mary Quant cosmetics, and rockstar husbands—the Boyd sisters saw their fair share of the dark side of rock & roll. When asked about her seemingly perfect, glamorous life, Jenny once quipped, “Watch out—it’s not what you think.”

“Dolly bird” is an out-of-fashion term that’s akin to “bimbo” but back in Swinging London, it was used to describe a certain kind of model—pin-thin, baby-faced, big-eyed, and bright-blonde. Twiggy epitomized the look but she admitted that she’d been inspired by Pattie Boyd, whose photos were all over Vogue, Sixteen, and of course, the tabloids, thanks to her high-profile relationship with Beatles guitarist George Harrison, which began in 1964.

Pattie and George met on the set of A Hard Day’s Night when she was cast as a schoolgirl fan. The so-called “quiet Beatle” was immediately smitten upon meeting her, blurting, “Will you marry me?” When she just laughed, he pivoted, saying, “Well, if you won’t marry me, will you have dinner with me tonight?” Two years later, they were walking down the aisle.

Unlike many of the pretty young things who tripped the light fantastic with music’s most glamorous glitterati, Pattie and Jenny were no groupies. They didn’t stake out the pop star du jour; instead, the pair were more like magnets—sirens to sailors or honeycombs to bees. The lengths their men went to be with them are the stuff of legend… not to mention some pretty killer tunes.

George wrote one of the most lovely, enduring Beatles ballads for Pattie, “Something,” which appeared on 1969’s Abbey Road. “He told me in a matter-of-fact way that he had written it for me,” she recalled in her tell-all memoir, Wonderful Tonight. “I thought it was beautiful, and it turned out to be the most successful song he wrote.” As the years went on, however, the strings man began to distance himself from the narrative, griping in 1996, “Everybody assumed I wrote it about Pattie,” insisting he’d been more inspired by the spiritual than the carnal. And who can blame him? The two-timing babe wound up dumping George for his best friend, Eric Clapton.

Eric wrote two of his most beloved songs, “Layla” (1970) and “Wonderful Tonight” (1977) for his pilfered paramour but their union would be fraught with drama due to drug abuse and infidelity. They married in 1979—and get this: George Harrison performed at their wedding!—but split in the following decade.

After that, Pattie married Rod Weston, an everyman who works as a property developer, and they’ve been together ever since. (No word on whether he’s named any buildings after her.) In 1991, the former model co-founded the Self-Help Addiction Recovery Program with Barbara Bach (who is married to Ringo Starr).

Pattie’s sister Jenny was introduced to modeling and the Beatles’ inner circle as a teen in the sixties and that is how she wound up posing at Bodiam Castle in East Sussex to publicize Donovan’s album, A Gift from a Flower to a Garden. Shortly after, “Jennifer Juniper” was written. Around that time, Mick Jagger told her he’d dedicated a song to her (as well as her sister), though he kept tight-lipped on specifying which ones. “I always wondered about that,” she wrote in her memoir, Jennifer Juniper: A Journey Beyond the Muse.

When the Fab Four made a pilgrimage to Rishikesh in India to study Transcendental Meditation in early 1968, Donovan—and the Boyd birds—tagged along. Jenny and Donovan later took a trip to Greece together, but both insist there was never any hanky-panky between them. “I had a crush on Jenny, so she got a song,” the psychedelic troubadour admitted but denied rumors that they were an item.

After all, Jenny was entangled in a stormy relationship with Fleetwood Mac’s drummer, Mick Fleetwood, at the time—and beyond. The pair actually married and divorced twice. The final straw for Jenny came in 1976 after Mick copped to having an extramarital affair with Stevie Nicks, who’d joined the band with her boyfriend Lindsay Buckingham two years before. Stevie and Lindsay had broken up, but she was seeing the Eagles’ Don Henley while also carrying on with Mick. Hey, it was the seventies!

Jenny married another drummer, Ian Wallace of King Crimson, but that didn’t last. In 1997, she pledged her love to an architect, David Levitt, and, having earned her PhD. in psychology, Dr. Jenny Boyd now runs an addiction treatment clinic.

Pattie and Jennifer are now in their seventies with more life behind them than ahead, but they are forever immortalized as the young, beautiful, free-spirited heartbreakers who inspired the twentieth century’s most brilliant musicians to write the songs we still love to this day.

-Staci Layne Wilson

Photo: Pattie Boyd, 2018  (Eddie Janssens via Wikimedia Commons)

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4 comments on “Pattie & Jenny Boyd: Music’s Marvelous Muses

  1. Wasn’t Fleetwood and Boyd’s second divorce in 1978 rather than 1976?

  2. Paula (the other sister of Jenny and Patti) was also with Bobby Keys around the Derick & The Dominoes era. He has her on the back of his first solo album and wrote a song for her on that album too

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