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Wonderful Tonight by Pattie Boyd – The Enhanced iBook

It was the most famous love triangle in rock and roll history, creating one of the most iconic songs of all time and arguably, the most famous guitar riff of all time.

Mention the name Pattie Boyd and most people over 40 will know who you mean. Mention the word “Layla” and younger, confused eyes light up. Every kid learning guitar wants to play those opening notes.

Pattie Boyd’s story is amazing. It captures the wild excesses and free love of the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll years, an era that ignited in the early 60s and had burned out by the early 1980s with most of the stars either dead or hopelessly addicted to alcohol. drugs or both. The bands that remained broke up due to infighting among the surviving members. Hard rockers who tossed televisions out of hotel room trash were replaced by fluffy New Romantics who would never crash into a hotel lobby on a motorcycle for fear of messing up their hair or smudging their makeup.

Memorabilia from the 60s and 70s is changing hands at auction for increasingly ridiculous sums of money, and Pattie Boyd clearly has the trunk load. This “enhanced” edition of her autobiography, Wonderful Tonight (the original print version was strangely titled Wonderful Today in the UK) is filled with letters, photographs, drawings and images that have apparently not seen the light of day for decades.

The opening chapters talk about her childhood – usually a boring necessity in an autobiography – but before we get to the juicy bits, it’s worth taking a look at her childhood photos. Presented as a movie slideshow, Pattie talks through a series of snapshots, like a friend showing you his photo album. It’s an original approach that is repeated later in this iBook with a collection of photographs of the Beatles in India, with the Maharishi.

A photo of George & Pattie with Frank Sinatra accompanied by an audio description of how they joined Sinatra in the studio to record “one take” My way.

Further on in the iBook, he talks about George’s solo album coverLiving in the Material Worldexplaining that the chauffeur and nanny were just part of the set.

Beatles anoraks, or anyone interested in that era, will be fascinated by memorabilia such as postcards George wrote to Patti while on tour with the Fab Four, George and Patti’s marriage certificate, a children’s Christmas card created for Patti by George and even George’s idea for his own record label.

A letter George wrote to Pattie while in New York about Concert for Bangladesh audio commentary processing has also been given. In his letter George writes that the trip on the SS France to New York was not as much fun as the previous one on the QE2. Pattie explains that Tommy Cooper had entertained them on the QE2 trip. Why does George write that he has seen a sink but doesn’t know if they can afford it? He was definitely one of the richest rock stars on the planet! Pattie explains that they never carried money and had no idea if they were rich or poor. Cleverly, the presentation allows the reader to listen to the commentary and then read the letter.

Most magical of all is perhaps a letter written by John Lennon that was buried in a drawer for nearly forty years. In the letter he talks about the grass outside their window (Central Park), which luckily he doesn’t need to mow. He describes an amazing new invention he discovered – the Polaroid camera – and how the image comes out of the camera and develops before your eyes. He suggests that Apple (the Beatles record company which was causing them enormous grief at the time) be given to the highest bidder or sent to an animal slaughterhouse and talk about old age at the Wilfred Pickles Memorial Home. It really is Lennon at his wacky best.

The story everyone wants the inside scoop on is exactly what happened between George Harrison, Pattie Boyd and Eric Clapton, and this iBook edition lays it all out on the table. He tells of how a letter addressed to “Dearest L…” arrived, which he assumed was from a crackpot fan. about how Eric sat her down and played her a tape and it was the loudest song she’d ever heard and she knew it was about her. The song, of course, was Leila. At this point you can touch your iPad screen, connect to the iTunes store, listen Leila and buy it if it’s amazing you don’t already have it.

The madness of the period between 1970 and 1974, when George and she finally divorced, is amazing and difficult to watch. It was widely believed that Harrison and Clapton fell out and there was a lot of animosity between the two, but in this iBook Pattie produces a note from George to both of them which seems to give his blessing to their relationship.

In addition to the letters, the iBook contains another Christmas card, this time drawn by Eric. Were these ’70s rockers so desperate to cling to their childhood that they created greeting cards like exuberant elementary school kids?

Ronnie Wood, who allegedly had an affair with Pattie during the George / Eric conflict, gives his take on this special enhanced edition of the book with a video introduction and appears later in the book to talk about a plan that did with Pattie at Friar Park (Harrison mansion).

Wonderful Tonight, the enhanced iBook, is a great example of what can be done with Apple’s iPad platform. The subject matter and accompanying content really lend themselves perfectly to 3D eBook editing, and using clever techniques (like annotating photo slideshows) works really well.

If you’re at all interested in The Beatles, Eric Clapton, or just a glimpse into the future of publishing, this iBook is worth a look

Wonderful Tonight, the enhanced version, is available from Apple’s iBook store for iPad and iPhone

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