Former Beatle George Harrison is in stable condition after being stabbed in the chest Thursday morning (Dec. 30), by an intruder in his mansion, outside London, police said.
A spokesperson for the Thames Valley Police said she could not confirm a CNN report that Harrison’s alleged attacker was a Beatles fanatic. The cable news channel reported that the man — who is from Liverpool, the Beatles’ hometown — had been arrested earlier this year for defacing a Beatles poster.
“Thank God, George and Olivia are all right,” former Beatles bassist Paul McCartney said in a statement referring Harrison and his wife, who was also hurt in the attack. “I send them all my love.”
“Obviously everyone’s deeply shocked,” Beatles spokesperson Geoff Baker said.
Detectives questioned the 33-year-old alleged attacker, searched his Liverpool flat and were trying to determine how he broke into Harrison’s Henley-on-Thames mansion, Thames Valley Police spokesperson Janet Malcolmson said. Police have not released the man’s name, but a source familiar with the investigation identified him as Michael Abraham.
“Questioning will take at least most of today and probably some of tomorrow before charges are brought,” Malcolmson said on Thursday.
Harrison, 56, and wife Olivia were attacked at about 3:30 a.m. local time, Malcolmson said it was unclear how many times the ex-Beatle was stabbed. The assailant suffered head injuries during a struggle with the couple.
“We’ll be talking to [Harrison] as much as we can, as quickly as we can,” the police spokesperson said. “But he’s still an ill man, and any questioning will take place according to medical supervision.”
Harrison was treated at Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading before Harrison requested a transfer to a private ward at Harefield Hospital, in northwest London, Thursday afternoon, Malcolmson said. Olivia Harrison was not hospitalized.
Harrison arrived at Harefield Hospital shortly before 3 p.m. (10 a.m. EST), hospital spokesperson Pete Fitch said. “I can’t stress enough that this is just for observation,” he added. “It’s nothing more serious than that.”
The attack brought back chilling memories of former Beatle John Lennon’s murder, on Dec. 8, 1980. Lennon was shot to death outside his New York apartment by an obsessed Beatles fan, Mark David Chapman.
Although Harrison was not as prolific a songwriter as Lennon or McCartney, he wrote and sang some of the Beatles’ best-known songs, including “Something,” “Here Comes the Sun” and “Taxman.” He also injected a spiritual element into the band, leading the Fab Four on a tour of India, in 1968, to study with the Marharishi Mahesh Yogi, and playing the sitar on several Beatles songs, including “Norwegian Wood.”
Soon after the Beatles broke up, in 1970, he released a triple album, All Things Must Pass, featuring the first of several solo hits — “My Sweet Lord,” which topped the Billboard singles chart for four weeks.
Though he has maintained a low musical profile in the ’80s and ’90s, Harrison had a hit album in 1988, with the Traveling Wilburys, a supergroup that also included Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and the Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynne. In 1994 and 1995, he reunited with ex-Beatles bandmates McCartney and Ringo Starr to record the songs “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” for the first two Beatles Anthology albums.
Compared to McCartney and Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, Harrison has led a private personal life in recent years. News accounts say the Harrisons’ mansion numbered 100 rooms, and England’s Guardian newspaper said the estate, a former nunnery called Friar Park, covered 34 acres.
There have been other break-in attempts during the Harrisons’ more than two-decade residency at the mansion, Malcolmson said.
Beatles producer George Martin was quoted by Reuters as saying, “George is a very peaceful person who hates violence of any kind.”
Last year, Harrison revealed he had been battling throat cancer. A lump was removed from his neck.
(Staff Writer Brian Hiatt contributed to this report.)