George Harrison’s Frustration Over Pete Townshend’s Shallowness

In the name of love, numerous ballads and neverending melodies have been composed. After all, it might be inspiring for a rocker to get their guitars and write down a few lyrics about how enhancing it might be to love someone. However, sometimes, that one romantic ballad millions now enjoy and possibly play at their wedding receptions might not be as innocent.

At least, the controversial history behind Eric Clapton‘s ‘Layla’ is not an exact secret for any average rock fan. The guitar virtuoso reportedly composed the ballad after falling in love with fellow rocker George Harrison‘s wife, Pattie Boyd, and the confessional single was a way for him to open up about his feelings.

So, falling in love with your mate’s wife might sound a bit ‘Love, Actually-ish,’ but the guitarist was so mesmerized by Boyd that he decided to go behind George’s back and persuade her to run away with him. This mission, however, wasn’t as easy as it sounded, as the Beatles icon was pretty aware of Clapton’s feelings.

With nothing much to do as an alert, Harrison was determined to keep Pattie by his side; Eric looked for another rocker’s help. That was how Pete Townshend came into play. It was no secret that there was a bit of a friendly rivalry between the Beatles and The Who, Townshend even accusing the former band of copying them, so when it came to Clapton asking for a favor, Pete decided to help out.

He later recalled how Eric asked for his help to keep Harrison busy while he and Pattie sneaked away in his memoir, ‘Who Am I?’ As the Who rocker tried to busy George, it wasn’t much of a challenge since the Beatles icon was eager to talk about his beliefs regarding Indian mysticism and worldview.

Townshend on keeping Harrison busy while Clapton and Boyd had some time alone:

“Eric came back into the studio to complete the recording. After we had finished, he told me he was building the courage to speak with Pattie, George Harrison’s wife and the subject of ‘Layla,’ and beg her to leave her husband. Would I go with him and maybe spend some time with George so Eric could be alone with Pattie? This turned out not to be difficult.

George was happy to talk to me about Indian mysticism and music, even his use of cocaine. I found it hard to follow his reasoning that in a world of illusion, nothing mattered, not wealth or fame, drug abuse or heavy drinking, nothing but love for God.”

The guitarist then discussed how the pair had a lengthy chat for two hours in Harrison’s wonderful home studio, with Pete even stating that he fell in love with the Beatle’s charming humor and absolute commitment to his spiritualism. However, it seemed that George wasn’t as fond of Townshend.

We don’t know for sure why George didn’t particularly like spending hours with Pete talking about his beliefs, but it was, perhaps, because the Beatles guitarist was aware of Clapton’s plans to keep him busy and knew that Townshend’s interest in chatting with him wasn’t much genuine.

Whatever it was, Harrison didn’t hold back while criticizing the Who icon in 1976 during a chat with India Today. The rocker discussed how he found Townshend’s beliefs shallow and why he was convinced that Townshend wasn’t a committed believer.

George on his frustration with Pete’s beliefs:

“Townsend! Yeah! Every time I’ve seen that guy, he’s been so stoned and talking such a lot of nonsense that I don’t think he means any of the religious stuff he spouts.”

In the end, after Townshend kept Harrison busy for two hours, Clapton and Boyd did get some time alone, and to Eric’s joy, Pattie did leave George. However, their story didn’t end as romantic as it should’ve been after all these troubles… but at least it was fun for Pete to have Harrison talk about ancient Indian traditions for a few hours.

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