The Truth Of George Harrison's Stabbing

Former Beatles guitarist George Harrison was at Friar Park, his estate in Henley-on-Thames, England, with his wife Olivia on December 30, 1999, when an intruder broke into the house after 3 a.m. According to The Guardian, Olivia Harrison first heard the sound of breaking glass and woke up her husband. They soon discovered that someone was in their home, and the couple found themselves in a struggle with a man armed with a knife.

This attack was exactly the type of scenario that Harrison had worked to avoid. He had become increasingly concerned about his personal safety after the brutal murder of a fellow Beatle, John Lennon, by a crazed fan in 1980. "After what happened to John, I'm absolutely terrified," Harrison commented (via The New York Times). Over the years, he had to deal with death threats, stalkers, and even a fan found outside his home who had intentions of burning the place down. At Friar Park, located 25 miles west of London, he took numerous precautions to protect himself and his family. Harrison had so much security that some neighbors reportedly nicknamed the place Fort Knox. But none of these measures were enough to stop this intruder from getting to Harrison that fateful night.

A break-in and brutal attack

The intruder turned out to be Michael Abram from Liverpool, and he was obsessed with the Beatles (via The New York Times). Abram broke into Harrison's home with deadly intentions, believing that God had ordered him to kill Harrison (via The Guardian). George Harrison was the first one to encounter Abram once he entered the house, and he shouted "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna" at Abram to confuse and distract him. But when that didn't work, Harrison fought with Abram in an effort to protect his family. Abram plunged his knife into Harrison several times, and he attacked Olivia Harrison when she tried to stop him from hurting her husband. She was eventually able to keep Abram away until the police arrived. Abram was arrested, and both of the Harrisons were taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

While his wife only suffered cuts and bruises, Harrison had more substantial injuries. He had been stabbed several times, with one of these stab wounds causing his lung to collapse. The former Beatle was incredibly lucky that his injuries didn't prove to be life-threatening. "No stab wound to the chest is minor," explained Dr. William Fountain, who treated Harrison. "It is just by chance that it is not particularly serious."

Scary testimony in court

After Abram's arrest, it became apparent that he had been planning his attack on George Harrison for some time. He had come to the area several times from his home in Liverpool before breaking in, and had been asking residents about Harrison (via The Guardian). It was also discovered that Abrams was a former drug addict and had been experiencing mental health problems, such as hearing voices (via The New York Times).

The following November, Abram went on trial for the attack. The case centered around whether his poor mental state at the time of the crime meant that he was not guilty "by reason of insanity." Both George and Olivia Harrison testified about their horrific experience. In a statement read aloud in court, George said that "there were times during the violent struggle that I truly believed that I was dying" (via the Independent). Olivia Harrison appeared in court to give her testimony, saying that "There was blood on the walls and blood on the carpet, and this was the moment I realized that we were going to be murdered." Three psychiatrists assessed Abram and found that he may have paranoid schizophrenia as well as a psychotic condition.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

The attacker was sent to mental health facility

The court declared that Abram was not guilty and sent to a secure hospital for an unspecified period of time beginning in November 2000. While Abram was confined to a mental health facility, Harrison soon faced another health crisis. He was previously diagnosed with throat cancer, and then he learned that he had developed lung cancer. Harrison died on November 29, 2001, nearly two years after the infamous assault on him and his wife (via The New York Times).

While the world mourned the loss of a great musical talent, the Harrison family suffered another hardship. Harrison's attacker, Michael Abram, ended up only spending 19 months in a facility, according to BBC News. He was given a conditional release in July 2002, and he claimed that "with the help of the medication I'm on, I am sure I can lead a normal life." George Harrison's son, Dhani, and his wife, Olivia, spoke out about Abram's release, saying "We can never forget how brutally close Abram came to killing dear George and myself, nor the trauma inflicted on our son and family."