Alice Ormsby-Gore

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The Honourable
Alice Ormsby-Gore
Personal details
Born22 April 1952
Diedc. 17 April 1995
Bournemouth, Dorset, United Kingdom
Cause of deathHeroin overdose
Domestic partnerEric Clapton (fiance)
ParentsDavid Ormsby Gore, 5th Baron Harlech
Sylvia Thomas

Alice Magdalen Sarah Ormsby Gore (22 April 1952 – c. 17 April 1995) was a British socialite.

She was the youngest daughter of William David Ormsby-Gore, 5th Baron Harlech and his first wife Sylvia Thomas. She became engaged to guitarist Eric Clapton but they never married. She died of a heroin overdose in 1995.

Teenage years[edit]

Time magazine reported on Friday, 12 April 1968 that Lord Harlech would be sending his "15-year-old daughter, Alice Ormsby Gore, to Manhattan's Dalton School for the coming spring term. Alice will stay at the East Side apartment of a family friend, John Hay Whitney, former U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James's."[1]

Eric Clapton[edit]

Later in 1968, Ormsby Gore was to encounter guitarist Eric Clapton. There is some speculation as to how they met. One account gives credit for the introduction to Ian Dallas in 1969 when Alice was 17.[2] However, Clapton in his autobiography gives the credit to interior designer David Mlinaric in 1968. Mlinaric was completing some work on Clapton's house, Hurtwood Edge, and had taken Ormsby Gore along with him.[3] David Mlinaric was part of a group of aristocratic hippies who hung out around London in the 1960s and was friends with Alice's siblings, Jane, Julian and Victoria Ormsby Gore, the older children of Lord Harlech, who had been British ambassador to Washington during the Kennedy era.

The couple announced their engagement on 7 September 1969. In 1970, Ormsby Gore moved into Hurtwood Edge with Clapton. Clapton had started using heroin quite heavily in an attempt to get over his continuing obsession with George Harrison's wife Pattie Boyd;[4] Alice also became hooked on the drug. In his autobiography Clapton says, "Alice came back to live with me, and she started using too".[3]

Time magazine reported their intention to marry on Monday, 16 March 1970:[1]

“Rock Guitarist Eric Clapton, 25, son of a bricklayer, may soon marry Alice Ormsby Gore, 17, daughter of former British Ambassador to the U.S. Lord Harlech—with her father's blessing. "She has gone to see him in New York," said Harlech, "and if they want to get married it is entirely their own affair.”

The couple did not marry but stayed together for five years. Clapton maintains he was not in love with Ormsby Gore but she was deeply in love with him. In Ray Coleman's book CLAPTON she says, "Maybe because I was only seventeen I wrongly thought of it as mutual. My extreme youth made any rational analysis of the situation impossible."[5]

Clapton broke the engagement and ended their relationship for good after recovering from his heroin addiction with the help of Ormsby Gore's family.

Death of her brother[edit]

In 1974, aged 22, Ormsby Gore found her elder brother, Julian Ormsby Gore (33), dead in his apartment from gunshot wounds, an apparent suicide.[6]

Final years[edit]

Ormsby Gore's father (William) David Ormsby Gore died as the result of a car accident in 1985. He was succeeded by Francis Ormsby Gore, 6th Baron Harlech.

Alice Ormsby Gore died in poverty in a bedsit in Bournemouth, Dorset, having taken six times the fatal dose of heroin.[7] The syringe was still in her arm.[8]

The Independent (London) reported on 21 April 1995, the day before her 43rd birthday:[9]

Lord Harlech's sister, Alice Ormsby Gore, 42, who was once engaged to the rock guitarist Eric Clapton, died after taking a drug overdose at her flat, an inquest in Bournemouth, Dorset, heard.


  1. ^ a b "People: Apr. 12, 1968". Time. 1968-04-12. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2015-08-08.
  2. ^ Band, Hittin' The Web with The Allman Brothers. "Hittin' The Web with The Allman Brothers Band :: Where Music Plus Friends Equals Family". Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b Times Online, "Loving Layla" by Eric Clapton, 30 September 2007 Archived 13 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ PATTI BOYD (4 August 2007). "Pattie Boyd: 'My hellish love triangle with George and Eric' - Part Two". Daily Mail.
  5. ^ "Wayback Machine". 12 October 2006. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  6. ^ "Milestones, Nov. 18, 1974". Time. 1974-11-18. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2015-08-08.
  7. ^ "Peer's sister overdosed on heroin". The Independent. 6 May 1995.
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ "Drug Overdose". The Independent. 21 April 1995.