Of all the crazy stories that exist in any industry this one about George Harrison and Eric Clapton engaging in a guitar duel over George Harrison’s wife is something for the history books. Harrison and Boyd were married when Clapton fell in love with Boyd. He’d made a few passes at her before but he’d always been rebuffed for some reason. However, one night, after Harrison and Boyd had already been married for a bit, Boyd with with Clapton to listen to his music and was smitten by his lyrics. Layla was written by Clapton thanks to her inspiration it’s said and she was absolutely starstruck. After finding them hanging out together Harrison was floored when Clapton admitted that he was in love with Boyd. After asking her just who she was going to go with, Boyd finally went home with Harrison.
At some point Clapton showed up to Harrison’s apartment drunk and ready to throw down, but not in the way that you might imagine. He’d brought a guitar and an amp and challenged Harrison to a guitar duel, something that might seem a bit silly to some but to musicians is far better than a fist fight could ever be. The chance to upstage a friend and possible rival is something that a lot of musicians don’t take lightly. When music is your life the best thing you can do is use it when you really need it for something.
For 2 hours Clapton and Harrison dueled, but in the end Clapton’s music was just more on point than Harrison’s could ever be and it was determined that he won the battle. Even drunk it seems that Clapton was still able to perform on a level that few if any guitarists have ever managed to achieve. Harrison didn’t lose his wife that night but he did lose the duel. Clapton still held the love for Boyd that he’d professed but wouldn’t get the chance to express it until later. It was after a three-year drug addiction that he had his chance. When he was cleaning up Harrison and Boyd were splitting up, and Harrison gave Clapton his blessing to marry his ex-wife. Obviously the two remained friends for a while no matter the tension.
This is the only story I’ve ever heard having to do with this kind of thing in music. I don’t doubt that it’s not the only time such a thing has happened, but every guitar duel I’ve heard about and seen in the last two decades, and there have been some impressive ones, has been about the music and nothing else. This could have been the same but for the fact that Clapton was in love with Boyd, admittedly so. It takes a strong friendship to not just break apart immediately over something like this.
Personally I’m not too sure how I would react if my friend ever told me he was in love with my wife. It might not be the best of reactions since marriage for a lot of people is sacrosanct and saying things like usually doesn’t get taken very well.