This is perhaps one of the most popular songs in the history of modern music. Layla as performed by Eric Clapton has been in commercials, spoofed, and copied many times over.
According to Wikipedia, Layla...
is the title track on the Derek and the Dominos album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, released in December 1970. It is considered one of rock music's definitive love songs, featuring an unmistakable guitar figure, played by Eric Clapton and Duane Allman, as lead-in. Its famously contrasting movements were composed separately by Clapton and Jim Gordon.
Inspired by Clapton's unrequited love for Pattie Boyd, the wife of his friend George Harrison, "Layla" was unsuccessful on its initial release. The song has since experienced great critical and popular acclaim. Two versions have achieved chart success, first in 1972 and again twenty years later.
In 1966, George Harrison married Pattie Boyd, a model he met during the filming of A Hard Day's Night. During the late 1960s, Clapton and Harrison, as two of the top English guitarists of the day, became firm friends. Clapton contributed guitar work on Harrison's song "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on The Beatles' White Album, and Harrison played guitar pseudonymously on Cream's "Badge" from Goodbye. However, trouble was brewing for Clapton. His supergroups Cream and Blind Faith had broken apart, his growing drug use would lead to a life-threatening heroin addiction, and, when Boyd came to Clapton for aid during marital troubles, Clapton fell desperately in love with her.
The title, "Layla", was inspired by a love story, The Story of Layla / Layla and Majnun (ليلى ومجنون), by the Persian classical poet Nezami. When he wrote "Layla", Clapton had recently been given a copy of the story by a friend (reportedly Ian Dallas) who was in the process of converting to Islam. Nezami's tale, about a moon-princess who was married off by her father to someone other than the man who was desperately in love with her, resulting in his madness (in Persian, Majnun, مجنون, means "madman"), struck a deep chord with Clapton.
Boyd divorced Harrison in 1977 and married Clapton in 1979. Harrison was not bitter about the divorce and attended Clapton's wedding with Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. During their marriage, Clapton wrote another love ballad for her, "Wonderful Tonight". Their marriage later developed difficulties over Clapton's alcoholism and his extramarital affair with Yvonne Khan Kelly, and in 1985 he left Boyd altogether for Italian model Lori del Santo, with whom he had a child. Clapton and Boyd divorced in 1989 after several years of separation. Boyd currently lives with the property developer Rod Weston.
In an interview with Songfacts, Bobby Whitlock, who was a member of Derek and the Dominos and good friends with both Harrison and Clapton, explains the situation between Clapton and Pattie around the time he wrote Layla:
“ I was there when they were supposedly sneaking around. You don't sneak very well when you're a world figure. He was all hot on Pattie and I was dating her sister. They had this thing going on that supposedly was behind George's back. Well, George didn't really care. He said, 'You can have her.' That kind of defuses it when Eric says, 'I'm taking your wife' and he says, 'Take her.' They got married and evidently, she wasn't what he wanted after all. The hunt was better than the kill. That happens, but apparently Pattie is real happy now with some guy who's not a guitar player. Good for her and good for Eric for moving on with his life. George got on with his life, that's for sure.
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