By People Staff
Updated May 23, 1988 12:00 PM

Call it the long goodbye. During their bumpy nine-year marriage, rocker Eric Clapton, 43, and former model Patti Boyd, 43, seemed to be in the process of kissing each other off almost constantly. Their most celebrated breakup came in 1986 after Italian TV personality Lory Del Santo, 29, gave birth to Clapton’s son, Conor, in August. Clapton asked Boyd to stick with him, and for a while she did. But by year’s end Clapton announced they were finished. Though the two of them were later seen nuzzling together around town, it seems they were only putting off the inevitable. On April 29, Boyd, former wife of George Harrison, filed for divorce on grounds of Clapton’s adultery with Del Santo.

Their marriage was complicated from the beginning. He began courting Boyd while she was still married to his old pal Harrison. The story goes that Clapton told his friend, “I’m in love with your wife, what are you going to do about it?” Harrison reportedly replied, “Do whatever you like. It doesn’t worry me.” In 1974, three years before she and Harrison divorced, Boyd helped Clapton kick a heroin habit and then moved into his Surrey mansion.

According to one report, Patti has moved into a house near Clapton’s. Her soon-to-be ex has been spending much of his time in Milan with Del Santo. “He was here just yesterday,” said Del Santo two weeks ago. “When he had to leave, the baby cried.” She hints that she and Clapton may wed “to do something solid” for the child.

If so, she will discover that the life of a Mrs. Clapton is not uneventful. In March, Alina Morini, 27, a New York-based nightclub singer, told London’s Daily Express that she was pregnant by Clapton. Morini claimed that he had admitted paternity in a phone call she taped, although she refused to turn the tapes over to the paper for confirmation. (On the other hand, Morini also claims she’s a witch, so you decide.) Manager Roger Forrester told the Express at that time, “Quite honestly, the best thing [Eric] can do in this instance is to keep his mouth shut. He can’t win on this one.”

Ironically, it was Clapton who once said that his marriage had suffered because he and Boyd couldn’t have children. Practicing with others was clearly not a solution.