14 Years Ago: George Harrison Attacked at Home
“They used us as an excuse to go mad, the world did,” George Harrison said in the Beatles‘ 1995 ‘Anthology’ documentary. “And then blamed it on us.” But even he could never suspect that, four years later, those words would ring true again when, on Dec. 30, 1999, a mad man attacked Harrison in his own house, nearly killing him.
At approximately 3:30AM, Michael Abram, a 33-year old native of Liverpool, avoided security by scaling the fence of Harrison’s Friar Park estate near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire and entered the mansion by throwing a statue through a window, which woke up the sleeping Harrisons.
George confronted Abram, who was screaming at the spiritual Beatle with a knife in his hand. The 56-year old Harrison ran at Abram to try to tackle and disarm him. The attempt was unsuccessful, and George was stabbed repeatedly in the chest.
Meanwhile, Harrison’s wife, Olivia, whose mother was staying with the Harrisons at the time, struck Abram with a lamp, causing him to drop the knife. Abram then went after Olivia by trying to strangle her with the lamp’s cord, but she was able to escape.
Police arrived after 15 minutes and arrested Abram. Paramedics stopped Harrison’s bleeding and took him to a nearby hospital, where he was treated for a punctured lung. According to the hospital’s medical director, some of the wounds were very close to major arteries, which would have been fatal if they had been hit.
The investigation determined that this was not a simple burglary gone wrong, but a planned attack on Harrison. The prosecutor said that Abram “believed that The Beatles were witches who flew around on broomsticks. Subsequently, George Harrison possessed him and that he had been sent on a mission by God to kill him. He saw George as a sorcerer and a devil.”
The attack drew parallels to Mark David Chapman’s killing of John Lennon on Dec. 8, 1980. Abram was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to a psychiatric hospital, where he stayed until mid-2002. With his customary dry wit, Harrison said that his would-be assassin “wasn’t a burglar, and he certainly wasn’t auditioning for the Traveling Wilburys.”