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George Harrison‘s wife Olivia received hate mail and death threats from obsessive fans in 1989. She handled the situation with grace. However, that wasn’t the last time Olivia had to deal with an obsessive fan. She battled one during a home invasion 10 years later.

George Harrison, his wife Olivia, and their son Dhani in Paris, France, in 1988.
George Harrison, his wife Olivia, and their son Dhani | GARCIA/Getty Images

What George Harrison’s wife Olivia did after receiving hate mail and death threats

In a recent interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Olivia discussed getting a plethora of hate mail and death threats in 1989. Instead of being worried that one of the obsessive fans would carry out their threats, Olivia was empathetic. She called some of them.

“Some people used to write crazy things, and some people were really disturbed,” Olivia said. “On a couple of occasions, I called people who were really obsessed with George and just talked to them.

“I’d just say, ‘You know, life is really intense, and it’s very easy to be confused. Maybe you should go talk to somebody, because these imaginations you’re having, they’re not real. You’re not in touch with him. But it’s OK.’

“And they were like, ‘Oh, thank you.’ You just think, ‘Oh, man, somebody help this person! Don’t they have any friends or somebody to help them?'”

Olivia wasn’t as nice about a home invasion in 1999 as she was with the hate mail

In 1999, a man named Michael Abram jumped the fence of the Harrisons’ home, Friar Park, smashed a window with a piece of a statue of Saint Michael and attacked George. Olivia wasn’t as nice about the attack as she was with the hate mail. To get Abram off her husband, Olivia hit him over the head with a poker.

“It was hard to distill it into however many words are there, because it’s a big story,” she said. “I could write an essay on that and every movement that happened. 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 said attacking the assailant was “a test you don’t want to have. I don’t think you ever know what kind of person you are until you’re in that situation. But I am sort of an action person. And it was a moment when just something took over me. I couldn’t let George just be on his own out there. And believe me, he fought for me too.

“There was a moment when I was under attack and poor George had been hurt quite badly… and he jumped on his back and the guy was on top of me and we all fell in a big pile. And then I got out from underneath because I’m quick and wily; I got out and then it started all over again! It was quite dramatic!

“However many minutes it was, it was longer than a couple of rounds in a boxing match. … It’s just one of those unfortunate things from a very troubled person.”

George sustained multiple stab wounds and a collapsed lung. However, he managed to keep his sense of humor about the incident.


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George originally thought no one would want to kill him

Before Olivia had to deal with the hate mail in 1989 and ward off an attacker in a home invasion in 1999, George didn’t think anyone would want to kill him. After Mark David Chapman murdered John Lennon, George couldn’t imagine the same happening to him.

George explained in a 1987 interview, “Everybody likes to say, ‘OK, one of your best friends got assassinated, so surely you must be nervous about being assassinated too. You know, I like to take care, but I don’t walk around fearing for my life.”

George didn’t think anyone would want to murder him too. “I don’t think anybody could be bothered killing me,” he said. “What’s the point of killing me? There’s nothing. I don’t feel that important.”

Olivia explained to Yahoo that George had “sort of changed lanes” when she met him. George wanted a quiet life where no one bothered him.

“He always said, ‘I gave my nervous system for the Beatles.’ I suppose anybody would be a bit tired of all that screeching in their ears and stuff. He had a good time, no doubt about it, but then, you know, with [the murder of] John [Lennon]… enough is enough.”

Unfortunately, George was wrong, thinking no one wanted to murder him.