George Harrison’s Wife Said She Felt ‘Safer’ Knowing Tom Petty Was There for Her

TL;DR:

  • Tom Petty and George Harrison’s families were very close 
  • After George Harrison’s death, Tom Petty comforted his wife, Olivia Harrison.
  • Tom Petty explained that George Harrison’s wife had a difficult job.
Tom Petty and George Harrison wear black jackets and walk together outside.
Tom Petty and George Harrison | Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Tom Petty wasn’t able to visit George Harrison before his death, but he worked to make sure Harrison’s wife Olivia knew he was there for her. Petty played at a concert that aimed to celebrate Harrison’s life and legacy. He also explained to Olivia that he’d be there for her whenever she needed him. She shared how this made her feel.

George Harrison’s wife said Tom Petty was like family to them

Petty and Harrison formed a close friendship soon after they met. They quickly became like family to one another.

“George came along, and we just got so close; it was like we had known each other in some other life or something,” he said in the book Petty: The Biography by Warren Zanes. “We were pals within minutes of knowing each other.”

Olivia Harrison said that they spent a good portion of their time with the Petty family.

“Almost as soon as we met them, we spent more time with Tom and Jane Petty than with anyone but the Keltners,” she said. “They were family. We had Christmases together. They came to Friar Park. We’d just hang out, for hours and hours, with [the children] Dhani and Adria and Annakim playing together, staying up way too late, probably. Tom and George playing guitars and ukuleles. Between George, Tom, and Jane — a lot of cigarette smoke.”

He comforted her following her husband’s death

In 2001, Harrison died of cancer. While Petty didn’t think he would have been able to handle seeing Harrison before his death, he made sure to support Olivia afterward. 

“I saw Tom and Dana [York] shortly after George died,” she said. “He came to the Concert for George and he was amazing. Eric Clapton reached out to him, and Tom flew his whole band over. He was all over it, the rehearsals, the show.”

He also let her know that he would be there for her for the rest of their lives.

“I saw him again, back here in LA,” she said. “Both Tom and Dana. They were so kind. They sat in a room with me, put their arms around me. We all cried. And Tom said, ‘Don’t worry, we’re not leaving you.’ And he meant that not just for the moment but for life. I have a special fondness for him. It makes you feel a little bit safer to know that someone like Tom is there for you. It’s a good umbrella to be standing under.”

Tom Petty said George Harrison’s wife had the hardest job in the world

Petty held Olivia Harrison in high regard. He understood that it couldn’t be easy to marry one of music’s biggest names.

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“Olivia really kicked a**,” Petty told Rolling Stone in 2002. “She is a beautiful person. His song, Dhani, is a beautiful kid, man. I’ve seen his recently. He is doing very well. Very strong and inspired. Olivia had the hardest job in the world, because she loved George more than all of us, and she really took care of him and cleared the path in front of him, behind him, and inherited that crazy life, you know.”