Tom Petty Felt Blessed Having Known George Harrison: ‘I Loved Him so Much’

George Harrison had a profound effect on everyone he came in contact with. Most of his friends felt blessed to have known him, and Tom Petty was definitely one of those people. George was one of Petty’s closest friends. Petty saw the ex-Beatle at his best and worst and still loved him no matter what.

When George died in 2001, Petty lost a brother. The leader of the Heartbreakers only had his fond memories of George to console him.

Tom Petty and George Harrison at the Billboard Music Awards.
Tom Petty and George Harrison | Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Tom Petty felt truly blessed having known George Harrison

During an interview with Rolling Stone in 2002, Petty was still grieving his best friend. He spoke at length about his special friendship with the ex-Beatle and said he felt genuinely blessed having known him.

“Oh, I feel blessed. And it’s the only time in my life, really, that I had been that close to somebody — outside of like my mom dying or something. I loved him so much, and if he had never played a note, I would have been so blessed to have him in my life,” Petty explained.

Then, Petty realized he wasn’t the only person mourning George. “And then over the weekend, it really comes home to you that, oh, wow, the whole world feels this way. They all knew him in their way, and they are mourning him as well. It was very hard, because there’s a duality to it,” Petty continued.

“I mourn for my friend, and then I also am a huge fan just like everyone else. I’m just blessed by God to have known him. He had so much love in him. I realized it more with him gone that he was just pure love.”

Petty missed George’s enthusiasm for everything

The one thing Petty missed most about George was how enthusiastic he could be, especially during unexpected late-night jam sessions.

“His enthusiasm was very contagious in a recording session, in a writing session,” Petty continued to Rolling Stone. “He just had unbridled enthusiasm. One of the things I’ll miss most is when he used to drop by and he would always have a guitar or a ukulele in his hands most of the evening.

“He taught me so much guitar. I miss him showing me the guitar and some Beatles lick that I could never figure out. He would slow these licks to me, and they would be the simplest things in the world, but they’d eluded me because I didn’t think they could be that simple. But what a beautiful player he was.”

Petty loved that George obsessed over the ukulele. The ex-Beatle played it so much that he cleared rooms with his playing.

“He really got into the ukulele,” Petty continued. “It sounds kind of corny, but it gave him so much joy, you know. I was there when he first discovered it. The rest of his life was ukulele. He played the hell out of the thing. When my kids were little, we could clear rooms with those things, because they knew George was going to carry on till daylight with the ukulele.”


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Eric Idle also felt blessed having known George

George was also very close with Monty Python’s Eric Idle. The comedian also said he felt blessed having known George because he taught Idle so much.

George taught Idle not to take fame so seriously and to live in the here and now. “He said, ‘Well you know we’re still going to die,” Idle explained during an interview with The Off Camera Show, “‘fame you know doesn’t give you anything, you’re going to die.'”

Idle continued to say that George’s whole influence was remarkable. “I was fortunate that he was kind of a guru to me. I mean, he was a pal, we got drunk, we did all sorts of wicked, naughty things, and had a ball. But he was always saying, ‘Well, don’t forget you’re gonna die.’ I think these sort of good people encourage people to remember your here now. You might get hit by a bus on the way out, so just make sure that you’re living exactly to the fullest as you can, every single moment.

“I think that’s very useful help, especially when you’re in the confusion of showbusiness where people think you’re something that you’re not and admire you for things you probably aren’t responsible for,” Idle concluded. “I think comedy helps that too. It breaks down that sense of self-importance and taking yourself seriously. He was a remarkable influence on me.”

George lived by the motto that if you truly loved your friends, you were closer to God. But every one of his friends loved him back just as much.