George Harrison and his wife, Olivia, survived a home invasion in 1999. George confronted the attacker and received multiple stab wounds. Then, Olivia jumped on the assailant’s back and hit him with a fire poker. She saved her husband’s life.
Later, when they were recovering from what happened, George joked that his wife was like Western epic director Sam Peckinpah. He wished they’d filmed the attack.
George Harrison and his wife, Olivia, survived a 1999 home invasion
On Dec. 30, 1999, Michael Abram, a 33-year-old Liverpudlian, broke into the Harrisons’ home, Friar Park, near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.
In Martin Scorsese’s George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Olivia said, “This guy was saying, ‘Get down here, get down here.'” So, George confronted the attacker.
“It was just like this voice from the bowels of hell, and then he just tore up the stairs,” Olivia said. “He was in a florid psychotic state, and he was tall and young… and this man was on top of George, trying to kill him.”
Olivia grabbed a poker and hit Abram over the head. Then, George pinned the attacker down until the police arrived.
Later, in the hospital, George and Olivia looked at each other and couldn’t believe what had happened. George almost died. The attacker almost took something precious away from him; how he wanted to leave his body.
“The next day, George said, ‘You know, I was lying there, and I was thinking, I can’t believe it, after everything that’s happened to me, I’m gonna be murdered. I’m being murdered in my own home.
“‘Since I’m being murdered and I’m going to die, I better start letting go of this life, and I better start doing what I’ve been practicing to do my whole life so that I can leave my body the way I want to.’ He was so defiant and so determined. Nothing was gonna stop him from leaving his body and leaping as high as he could go.”
George called his wife Peckinpah and wished they’d filmed the attack
It didn’t take long for George to look at his family’s home invasion humorously. He had a dry sense of humor, after all.
“It was hard to distill it into however many words are there, because it’s a big story. I could write an essay on that and every movement that happened,” Olivia told Yahoo!. “The statistics for those sort of attacks, at 4:30 in the morning, when your body and your adrenaline and everything is at its lowest point… the statistics on your side are not good. Usually you don’t survive unless you shoot somebody. But I’m not going to do that.”
Olivia explained that George kept his sense of humor in the attack’s aftermath. “Right after [the Friar Park attack] happened, he looked at me — I think we were in the ambulance — and he said, ‘Peckinpah,'” Olivia laughed, referring to Sam Peckinpah.
“That’s how we communicated, even in those times, you know? … And he said, ‘Where was my video camera when I needed it? Gosh, we should have filmed it!'”
Olivia learned a lot about herself that night
“I thought, OK,” she said, “I know I’m not the flight person. Yeah, you know, something happens, I always have to go see what it is.”
In Scorsese’s documentary, Olivia explained that as she swung at Abram, she thought of what her father used to say, “Follow through.”
If Olivia had a flight mentality rather than a fight one, George would have died in the home invasion. All his preparation for death would have gone out the window. Olivia calls the sequence of events that night a victory.