Denis O’Brien dies aged 80

George Harrison's former manager had been admitted to hospital with abdominal pains

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Denis O’Brien, the former manager of George Harrison, has died aged 80.

O’Brien’s daughter, Kristen O’Brien, told The Associated Press (via Billboard) that her father passed away at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon last Friday (December 3).

He had been admitted for severe abdominal pains although an exact cause of death has not yet been determined.


Kristen said that Denis was essentially retired over the past 20 years and had been “enjoying life with his wife, Phyllida O’Brien”, who died in 2019. He was married four times.

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, O’Brien relocated to Europe after receiving a law degree from Washington University.

He served as Harrison’s manager for much of the late Beatle’s solo career. In 1978 the pair founded the production and distribution company HandMade Films. Their first project was Monty Python’s Life Of Brian (1979) which they financed after EMI Films dropped out.

The company went on to produce titles such as Monty Python Live At The Hollywood Bowl (1982), Mona Lisa (1986), Withnail And I (1987) and Nuns On The Run (1990). HandMade Films went out of business in 1991, with Harrison and O’Brien’s partnership ending in court.

In 1996, O’Brien was ordered by a judge to pay Harrison damages of $11million (£8.3million) for alleged mismanagement of HandMade’s finances. Then in August 2001, three months before Harrison’s death, a judge rejected the musician’s effort to stop O’Brien from declaring bankruptcy.

Last week saw Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr pay tribute to Harrison on the 20th anniversary of his death. Harrison died of lung cancer on November 29, 2001. He was 58 years old.


“Hard to believe that we lost George 20 years ago,” McCartney wrote above a black-and-white image of the pair. “I miss my friend so much. Love Paul.”

Originally published on NME

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