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In the early 1970s, George Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd, and Ringo Starr were horrified to hear Harrison admit to being in love with Starr’s wife, Maureen Starkey. Boyd had long suspected an affair, but the verbal confirmation from her husband stung. Starr could hardly believe that someone he saw as a brother could betray him like this. Chris O’Dell, who was also present, said that Harrison admitted it after seeing a pack of his cigarettes at Starr’s home. 

A black and white picture of George Harrison with his hand around Ringo Starr's shoulders, giving a thumbs up.
Ringo Starr and George Harrison | Cummings Archives/Redferns

George Harrison had an affair with Ringo Starr’s wife

Boyd began to notice a widening distance between herself and Harrison in the 1970s, but she reached the final straw in her marriage when she discovered the affair. 

“The final straw was his affair with Maureen Starr, Ringo’s wife,” Boyd wrote in her book Wonderful Tonight. “She was the last person I would have expected to stab me in the back, but she did.”

Boyd noticed that Maureen was spending a suspicious amount of time at her house. Maureen said she was just there to listen to Harrison in the studio, but Boyd had a hard time believing this. Once, she came home to find the two of them locked in a room together.

“I stood outside banging on the door and saying to George, ‘What are you doing? Maureen’s in there, isn’t she? I know she is,’ but he laughed,” she explained. “He was supposed to be in the studio and everyone was waiting for him. Eventually he opened the door and said, ‘Oh, she’s just a bit tired so she’s lying down.'”

George Harrison admitted to the affair after Ringo Starr found a pack of his brand of cigarettes

Harrison wouldn’t admit to the affair until a night at Starr’s house. Per the book Ringo: With a Little Help by Michael Seth Starr, O’Dell said they were all sitting at the kitchen table while Maureen moved around the kitchen.

“[She] spent the entire evening flitting around like a little bird, jumping up to cook an omelet for Ringo, refilling our drinks, bringing plates of food to the table.”

At one point, Maureen opened a drawer and pulled out a pack of Marlboro cigarettes. 

“George’s brand,” O’Dell explained. “Maureen and Ringo both smoked Larks.”

After a beat of silence, Harrison admitted that he loved Starkey.

“We sat there in silence, and then George turned to Ringo and said, ‘You know, Ringo, I’m in love with your wife,'” O’Dell recalled. “I think all five hearts in that kitchen stopped beating for a few seconds. The room was completely still, no sudden gasps, no deep breaths, no fingers tapping or throats clearing. Absolute silence … Maureen retreated to the far side of the room and stood by the sink, frozen, staring at the kitchen counter. Ringo looked down at the table.”

The Beatles drummer and his wife divorced in 1975

As a way to clear his head, Starr flew to Los Angeles to spend time with John Lennon and several other musicians. Here, he began an affair with O’Dell. 

At this point, his marriage to Maureen was effectively over. The couple divorced in 1975.