Skip to main content

In 1999, a man attacked George Harrison and his wife Olivia in their home, Friar Park. The man attacked George with a kitchen knife and stabbed him 40 times until Olivia could knock him out with a lamp and a fireplace poker. George was recovering from throat cancer, but he had to get part of his lung removed due to the attack. When the news of the home invasion broke, Tom Petty was fearful that his friend was gravely injured.

George Harrison, Bob Dylan, and Tom Petty performing together in 1990.
George Harrison, Bob Dylan, and Tom Petty | KMazur/WireImage

Tom Petty told George Harrison he wouldn’t have handled George dying in the attack very well

Unfortunately, many believe that the attack took years off George’s life. He was just getting over his first bout of cancer, but it returned later on. Fortunately, when the time came, George left his body the way he wanted and with dignity in 2001.

Petty was glad for this because he wouldn’t have been able to handle George dying the night of the attack. He told Rolling Stone in 2002 that George’s spirituality helped him through the last few years of his life.

“I would think it helped him immensely,” Petty said. “He is just a really brave guy, and he died with a great deal of dignity. It’s so much easier for me than if he had died that night in the attack. I don’t think I could have dealt with that. I told him so.

“When I put on my TV the morning he was stabbed, it looked like he had died, there were so many biographical things coming up on the TV. After that, I told him, ‘I already kind of went through your death.’ And I said, ‘Just do me a favor and don’t die that way, because I just can’t handle it.’ He said he promised me he wasn’t going out that way.”

Petty commended Olivia’s efforts to save George during the attack

When Petty first heard about the attack, he sent George a fax that said, “Aren’t you glad you married a Mexican girl?”

“Olivia really kicked ass,” Petty said. “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.”

Who knows what would have happened if Olivia hadn’t mustered up the strength to battle it out with the assailant. She truly saved her husband that night. George could have been even more seriously injured, and so would she.


Tom Petty Said George Harrison Loved The Beatles Deep Down

Both George and Olivia thought they were going to be murdered that night in 1999

In his court statement, explaining that horrible night in 1999 (per the Guardian), George said, “I felt exhausted and could feel the strength draining from me. I vividly remember a deliberate thrust to my chest. I could hear my lung exhaling and had blood in my mouth.” George believed he’d been fatally stabbed.

Olivia also thought they’d be murdered that night. In her statement, Olivia said, “There was blood on the walls and on the carpet. There was a moment when I realised we were going to be murdered – I realised that this man was succeeding.”

Like Petty, we don’t know what fans would have done if George and Olivia died that night. However, George seemed to have some kind of guardian angel with him that night.