George Harrison struck gold when his record company, Dark Horse Records, hired his future wife, Olivia Arias. From the moment they met, Olivia made sure the path in front of George was clear. Without her, he’d have no voice or body. She helped him in the songwriting process as his amanuensis. When a deranged fan broke into their home, she saved him.
Olivia was the only person George could have been with who could keep him in line. As their friend Tom Petty said, she had a pretty tough job being Mrs. Harrison.
Tom Petty said George Harrison’s wife Olivia was ‘bad a**’ for saving him during a home invasion
In a special edition of Rolling Stone, “Remembering George,” Tom Petty looked back at his relationship with George. Speaking about writing “Cheer Down” together, Petty revealed that the song’s origin came from something George’s wife, Olivia, used to say to him when he got overexcited.
“Olivia would say that to George when he got a little too happy,” Petty explained. “He would get a burst of enthusiasm, and she’d say, ‘OK, cheer down, big fellow.'”
Petty continued to say that Olivia is a very brave woman. She helped stop a home invasion in 1999, which almost claimed George’s life. Olivia saved her husband by whacking the assailant while he was wrestling George on the floor.
Petty said, “When I heard about it, I sent George a fax, and it just said, ‘Aren’t you glad you married a Mexican girl?’ [laughs] Olivia really kicked a**. She is a beautiful person.”
Petty said George’s wife Olivia had the hardest job in the world
George’s friend continued to say that Olivia had the hardest job. It’s not easy being a Beatle wife, but Olivia took it in stride.
“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,” Petty said.
When George and Olivia realized that they both had a passion for spirituality, there was no way they could walk away from each other. Then, they embarked on a journey together, through the good and the bad.
“George didn’t see black and white, up and down as different things,” Olivia told Rolling Stone. “He didn’t compartmentalize his moods or his life. People think, oh, he was really this or that, or really extreme. But those extremes are all within one circle.
“And he could be very, very quiet or he could be very, very loud. I mean, once he got going, that was it. He wasn’t, you know, a wimp. I’ll tell you that. He could outlast anyone.”
Yoko Ono knew what her fellow Beatle wife went through
If it’s anyone who understands how hard Olivia’s job was, being George’s wife, it’s Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s widow.
In 2013, Yoko explained on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour (per Ultimate Classic Rock) that being married to a Beatle is “the most difficult thing to be.”
“That’s why I have so much respect and love for the other Beatles’ wives. I think it’s more difficult than being a politician’s wife, because it’s endless. We have a position that is endless.”
In her tribute to George in “Remembering George,” Yoko talked about the qualities all Beatle women share. She said she knew what Olivia was going through after George died in 2001. She and Olivia are the only widowed Beatle wives.
“I received a call at three o’clock in the morning from Olivia,” Yoko wrote. “I immediately knew what it was about. It reminded me of the calls I made when John passed away. It also reminded me of the sense of propriety and responsibility all of us Beatle women quietly share.
“Olivia is an intelligent and strong woman. But that doesn’t mean that she can take an enormous parting such as this. There are things you can never take, no matter how strong you are.”
When George and Olivia parted ways for good, the former Beatle lit up the room. Since then, Olivia has done everything to keep her husband’s legacy alive. It’s helped her grieve. However, she always has the songs George wrote for her.
George and Olivia believed that forming meaningful, loving relationships with people meant you were one step closer to God. They loved each other so much that they were always close.