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Week in Rock History: Elvis Makes His Film Debut

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November 15, 2000: Michael Abram, the man who stabbed George Harrison, is found not guilty by reason of insanity
On December 30, 1999, a former heroin addict named Michael Abram broke into the Oxfordshire, England home of George Harrison and his wife, Olivia. Convinced that the former Beatle was a witch, he stabbed Harrison multiple times; Olivia managed to subdue Abram until he was arrested, saving her husband’s life.

During Abram’s trial, his mother testified that his mental health began eroding in 1999 when he expressed his belief that the world was coming to an end. She also revealed that Paul McCartney had been Abram’s original target, and that Abram had become obsessed with the Beatles when he read John Lennon’s famous quote that the group was "more popular than Jesus."

Abrams was found not guilty by reason of insanity by Oxford Crown Court. He was sent to a psychiatric hospital and was released in 2002, after which he issued a public statement apologizing at length for the attempted murder.

November 19, 2002: Michael Jackson dangles his baby from a balcony in Berlin, prompting an international outcry
On the eve of accepting a lifetime achievement award, Michael Jackson displayed some severely immature judgment. The pop star was in Berlin on the eve of an awards ceremony, lounging at the luxurious Hotel Adlon, when fans clustered outside his window and chanted for him. Jackson soon appeared at the third-floor balcony of his suite to wave at his admirers – then, in a bizarre bout of child endangerment, he leaned over the railing and dangled his infant son, Prince Michael II, in the open air.

Onlookers worried that the 44-year-old singer would drop his child; he did not, but he faced an enormous international outcry for the reckless parenting. British tabloids called for his arrest – the Daily Mirror called him a "Mad Bad Dad" and wrote a lengthy editorial against him. Jackson soon apologized, calling the incident "a terrible mistake." Surely, he regretted the timing of the furor; it came on the heels of Jackson’s other legal troubles, a $21 million lawsuit filed against him for allegedly failing to appear at two concerts.

LAST WEEK: The Monkees' Head Movie Bombs

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »
 
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