A fixture at proms and weddings, Eric Clapton wrote "Wonderful Tonight" in 1976 while waiting for his girlfriend (and future wife) Pattie to get ready for a night out. They were going to a Buddy Holly tribute that Paul McCartney put together, and Clapton was in the familiar position of waiting while she tried on clothes.
Pattie was married to George Harrison when Clapton expressed his love for her on the song "Layla
." Clapton and Harrison remained good friends, and Harrison even played at their wedding in 1979. Eric and Pattie divorced in 1988.
Pattie inspired a lot of great songs. George Harrison wrote "Something" and "For You Blue" for her, while she inspired Clapton to write this, "Layla," "Why Does Love Have To Be So Sad," and "Forever Man."
On March 28, 1979, the day after they were married, Clapton brought Pattie on stage and sang this to her at his show in Tucson, Arizona.
Clapton released a live version in 1991 recorded in London with the National Philharmonic Orchestra. This is the version that charted in the UK. It is included on his album 24 Nights.
In Friends Episode 625 ("The One With the Proposal"), this plays in the background while Chandler and Monica are dancing. (thanks, Michael - Jerusalem, Israel)
This was used in the movie The Story Of Us with Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer. The song plays in the background as they eat dinner together at home, even though they had separated.
In 1997 the boy band Damage recorded a cover reaching #3 in the UK. A then unknown Craig David sent in a self-written song called "I'm Ready" for a competition Damage was running, which they used as the B-side.
Pattie Boyd recalled to The GuardianDecember 13, 2008 that Clapton "was sitting round playing his guitar while I was trying on dresses upstairs. I was taking so long and I was panicking about my hair, my clothes, everything, and I came downstairs expecting him to really berate me but he said, 'Listen to this!'" In the time she had taken to get ready Clapton had written this song.