Behind The Songs – Blog 8

Layla – Derek and The Dominoes

In the mid-sixties George Harrison struck up a close friendship with English guitar legend Eric Clapton. The two spent a lot of time together outside the studio when Harrison was not recording with The Beatles and Clapton was having time out from supergroup Cream. They wrote a few songs together only one of which was recorded. ‘Badge’ – credited to Harrison and Clapton appeared on Cream’s final album ‘Goodbye’ released in 1969. Released as a single the song went to number 18 on the UK charts. During this time Harrison and his wife Patti spent a few weeks living  at Clapton’s country mansion while their new home was being renovated. It was in Clapton’s backyard one morning that Harrison wrote his classic song ‘Here Comes The Sun’. Harrison was also keen for Clapton to play lead guitar during the recording of his epic song ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ on the Beatles so called ‘White Album’. Clapton was initially reluctant citing the fact that only the members of The Beatles played on their albums. Harrison’s reply was “fuck them, it’s my song”. Clapton eventually played on the track but was uncredited on the album sleeve. The more time the Harrisons spent with Clapton the more he became obsessed with Patti. In late 1969 Clapton confessed to Patti that he was in love her. Patti was flattered but turned Clapton’s request for her to leave Harrison down. A year later Clapton was still infatuated with Patti when he wrote the epic song ‘Layla’ which appeared on the album ‘Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs’ released in November 1970 and credited to Clapton’s new band ‘Derek and The Dominoes’. The band was made up of a series of top session musicians and included Duane Allman playing slide guitar on the title track. The bulk of the song’s lyrics referenced unrequited love from ‘Layla’ to the singer. There was little doubt that the ‘Layla’ character in the song was Patti Harrison. Although the album as a whole was not received well initially , ‘Layla’ was a top ten hit in both the US and UK charts. The song was re-released as a single in 1993 taken from Clapton’s ‘Unplugged’ album and was awarded a Grammy in the same year. In 2004 Rolling Stone magazine ranked the original version of Layla as the 27th greatest rock song from their list of 500 greatest rock songs of all time.

Footnote: George and Pattie Harrison separated in 1975, divorced in 1977 and in 1979 Patti and Eric Clapton married in 1979. Their marriage lasted 10 years.


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