On 7 September 1976, Clapton wrote "Wonderful Tonight" for Boyd while waiting for her to get ready to attend Paul and Linda McCartney's annual Buddy Holly party. Of "Wonderful Tonight", Boyd would say: "For years it tore at me. To have inspired Eric, and George before him, to write such music was so flattering. 'Wonderful Tonight' was the most poignant reminder of all that was good in our relationship, and when things went wrong it was torture to hear it." The song is mentioned in her autobiographical book Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me.
In 1988, Clapton appeared in the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert as a guest guitarist for Dire Straits. The group became his backing musicians for a surprise performance of "Wonderful Tonight" during their set. The song was featured in the film Captain Phillips and in the Friends season 6 episode "The One With the Proposal Part 2" (18 May 2000) where Monica and Chandler dance to it at the end of the episode after getting engaged. The song was also featured on Ricky Gervais's radio show, where producer Karl Pilkington argued that the lyrics suggested that it came from the point of view of a disabled man in a wheelchair. Both Gervais and co-host Stephen Merchant dismissed Pilkington's claims as conjecture. Clapton and Steve Winwood performed an acoustic version of the song during their 2011 tour in Japan.
"Wonderful Tonight" was covered by British R&B/pop group Damage in 1997, and was released as the fifth single from the band's debut studio album, Forever. The single peaked at #3 on the UK Singles Chart, becoming the band's most successful single to date, also peaking high in several other territories, which was a first for the band. The song is prominently performed by Richards, with little vocal input from any other members of the band. The music video features the band performing the song in a recording studio with cut scenes of a girl preparing to go on a night out. The b-side, "I'm Ready", launched the career of Craig David, being the first song he had ever written to be released by himself or another artist.
"Wonderful Tonight" - 4:01
"I'm Ready" (Bromfield/Richards/Simpson/Jones/Harriott/Craig David, produced by Mark Lewis)
"Wonderful Tonight" (Ethnic Boyz Mix)
"Wonderful Tonight" (Acoustic Mix)
"Just My Imagination" (Whitfield/Strong, produced by Howard Francis)
Also in 1989, a Spanish cover was recorded by Argentinian singer JAF.
Filipino musician and entrepreneur Ramon "RJ" Jacinto covered the song for his 2000 album, The Ultimate RJ Bistro Collection. It also later appeared on his 2005 compilation album, Rock 'n Roll Classics.
Country artist Don Williams covered the song and it appeared on his 2004 album, My Heart to You.
^Chris Smith (2006). Greenwood Press, ed. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History: From arenas to the underground, 1974–1980. p. 102. ISBN978-0-313-33611-9. "the hard-rock pioneer and guitar god also become a soft-rock star in the mid-1970s. He celebrated his sobriety with (... ) the Top 5 hit "Lay Down Sally" and hit No. 16 with the ballad "Wonderful Tonight," both off his 1977 Slowhand album"