George loses cancer battle Nov 30 2001
George loses cancer battle Nov 30 2001
By Paul Kennedy, Liverpool Echo
FORMER Beatle George Harrison died last night with his
wife and son at his side. Olivia and Dhani, 24, were with
him at a close friend's home in Los Angeles. The lead
guitarist in the world's most famous band had fought a long
battle against cancer. He was 58.
The former smoker suffered lung and throat tumours and
more recently underwent treatment for a growth on his brain.
Recently he underwent pioneering "last chance" surgery at
a hospital in New York but the cancer had already caused
The musician's death leaves two surviving members of The
Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
John Lennon was shot dead by deranged fan, Mark Chapman,
In 1998, when George disclosed that he had been treated
for throat cancer, he said: "It reminds you that anything
The following year, he survived an attack by an intruder
at his mansion in Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire. He was
stabbed several times and suffered a punctured lung.
Speaking outside his home in London today, fellow Beatle
Paul McCartney said: "I remember all the beautiful times we
had together and I'd like to remember him like that because
I know he would like to be remembered like that."
Sir Paul was due to perform in a Top of the Pops concert
tonight in Manchester but he has pulled out of the show.
This morning Yoko Ono, the widow of John Lennon, paid
tribute to George, who she said brought magic to the lives
of those who knew him. She said: "His life was magical and
we all felt we had shared a little bit of it by knowing
him. Thank you George, it was grand knowing you."
Pete Best, original drummer with The Beatles, said: "It
is a tragic loss of life, a tragic loss of a great
In Liverpool, a book of condolences has been opened at
the Beatles Story Museum and at the Town Hall.
In the Cavern Quarter this morning there was a subdued,
sombre atmosphere as fans laid floral tributes to the dead
George Harrison was always the quiet one --but his talent
and fascination with mysticism made an indelible impact on
the band that revolutionised popular culture. Beautiful
songs like Something, Here Comes The Sun and While My
Guitar Gently Weeps will live on.
Born in Liverpool on February 25, 1943, George was a
schoolfriend of Paul McCartney at Liverpool Institute, and
at just 15 joined the Quarry Men, the group which evolved
into The Beatles.
John Lennon and McCartney collaborated on most of their
early songs while George worked alone contributing the
occasional track to each album. But his interest in Far
Eastern spirituality left its mark.
Within a year of The Beatles' demise, George was back in
the charts with My Sweet Lord. He staged charity concerts
for Bangladesh in New York.
His first marriage to model Patti Boyd collapsed when she
left him for his friend Eric Clapton. George went on to
find happiness again with Olivia who he met on a US tour in
1974. They married in 1978. George branched out into film
finance, teaming up with the Monty Python team for the Life
Of Brian. His Handmade Films company had a string of hits
but eventually ran into trouble and was sold to a Canadian
George bounced back to the charts in 1981 with his homage
to murdered Lennon, All Those Years Ago, featuring
McCartney and Ringo Starr.
He teamed up with Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and
producer and former ELO star Jeff Lynne to form supergroup
The Traveling Wilburys.
He revived his partnership with Sir Paul and Starr in the
mid 1990s to oversee the Beatles Anthology series of albums
In December 1999 George was almost killed when Michael
Abram, from Huyton, broke into his Oxfordshire home and
stabbed him in the chest.
True Scouser who never forgot his roots Nov 30 2001
By Chris Brown, Liverpool Echo
LIVERPOOL was a city in shock today. The flag over the town
hall was at half mast and the atmosphere in the Cavern
Quarter - the place it all began - was subdued as people
came to terms with the news. Within hours of the news of
George's death, the council announced plans for a special
memorial event. A book of condolences has been opened at
the town hall.
Council leader Mike Storey said: "Everyone who knew
George Harrison knew he was a true Scouser who never forgot
his roots. He was a great ambassador for the city."
In the Cavern Quarter, Harry Boden, 62, joint-owner of
the Lucy In The Sky cafe, said: "I was gutted when I found
out. He was part of the city's history. "He was so
important to the Beatles and so important to the area. He
was a great member of the group."
As people trudged to work in the rain, many people where
still shocked. Mary Dumbell and Sue Whellan both work as
cleaners at Cavern Walks. Sue said: "I've only just heard
the news. It's such a shame that he's gone, especially
after everything he has done." Mary said: "I was a fan when
it all started and I've followed them ever since. I'm
"The Beatles did so much for the city and I have always
loved them. It's terrible news. It's going to be so busy in
here later on today when people come to pay their tributes."
Julia Hampton, 44, who works in a jewellers, had also
heard the news as she was going to work. She said: "It's
all very sad. But then it does show that with all that
money, it still cannot buy you your health."
Andy McCormick, 46, who owns the Chantilly cafe in Cavern
Walks, said: "We've only just heard the news. "Now there
are only two of them left. He was really important to
everyone in the city."
Sir Paul leads tributes as world mourns George Nov 30 2001
By Liz Hull And Emma Gunby, Liverpool Echo
SIR Paul McCartney today said George Harrison will be
"sorely missed". Speaking outside his home in St John's
Wood, north-west London, McCartney asked the media to
respect the wishes of Harrison's family. He said: "He will
be missed sorely by all his friends and loved ones. I'd
like to ask that everyone, mainly the media, treats Olivia
and Dhani with great kindness at this very difficult time.
"I've known George for ever and he was a really beautiful
guy who I love dearly. "He was a great guy, full of love
for humanity but he didn't suffer fools gladly. He's a
great man. He'll be sorely missed by everyone." McCartney
said he heard the news last night and that last time he saw
him was a few weeks ago. He said: "He had a long battle
with his cancer and I saw him a few weeks ago and he was
full of fun and he always was. He's a brave lad. "To me
he's just my little baby brother - we grew up together and
I knew him in my old home town of Liverpool and we just had
so many beautiful times together and that's what I'm going
to remember him by. "A lovely guy who is full of humour as
I was saying. When I saw him last time he was obviously
very unwell but he was cracking jokes like he always was
and he'll be sorely missed. He's a beautiful man. The world
will miss him." McCartney said that although he knew that
George had been ill for quite some time he said he has
always hoped that some kind of miracle might happen.
Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in Ireland for talks
today - and spoke of his grief at George's death. He said :
"He wasn't just a great musician and artist but he also did
an immense amount for charity. He will be greatly missed."
Irish premier Bertie Ahern said: "George had many Irish
family and used to come back and visit them in the 60s. "
The Beatles are nearly as popular now as they were then and
I am sure Beatles fans across the world will be very sad
Sir Bob Geldof said he was "shocked and stunned" to hear
of George's death. "He wasn't a reluctant Beatle. I mean he
knew that his place in popular culture was absolutely
"I doubt there's a person that can't remember each one of
his guitar lines. Almost uniquely, everything he played was
a hook-line." Actor Michael Palin, who met the Beatle after
he sent a letter to the BBC to say how much he enjoyed
Monty Python's first show in 1969, said he had a "great
wit, a great sense of humour". George then became very
friendly with the Python team, particularly with Eric Idle,
and in 1978 bankrolled their film Life Of Brian. Palin said
the mystical side to George was always balanced by a "sort
of nice, down-to-earth Liverpudlian attitude to life".
"George wasn't head in the clouds all the time, when it
came to business and all that - he was feet very much on
the ground," Palin told Radio 4's Today. "There was a
mixture there and it was a rather pleasant mixture, and I
think it helped him a lot in the last few years, that he
had his spirituality. "Death held no terrors for George
whatsoever, and he still got a lot out of life and found
the humour was there right up to when the last time I saw
him, which was in August. "He could be curmudgeonly about
tax demands and all that but George, always called the
quiet Beatle, never stopped talking when I was with him.
"He had an enormous number of friends who were terribly
loyal to him and will be very sad and unhappy at what's
happened today. "George always had a great number of
friends and he was a great entertainer, he wasn't the
silent one who sat in the corner by any means."
John Chambers, of the Liverpool Beatles Appreciation
Society, described George's death as "the end of an era"
for fans of the band. He said: "This is a terribly sad day.
I'm sure I speak for all Beatles fans when I say I'm
"Until now there has always been the hope of a reunion,
perhaps with Julian Lennon standing in for his dad. "But
now George has gone there is no chance of Paul and Ringo
getting together for a reunion. It really is the end of a
dream, the end of an era. "The only comfort we can take is
the legacy of the music, which is as powerful and
mysterious today as it ever was."
Original Beatle Pete Best heard the news as he was flying
over to America to perform. "I am absolutey stunned It is a
tragic loss of a life, a tragic loss of a great musician."
Monty Python's Eric Idle: "He was a spiritual man who
liked Formula One motor racing. "A rock star who was never
happier than spreading fertilizer on his garden. He even
dedicated his autobiography 'I Be Mine' to all gardeners
everywhere." Former Beatles promoter Sid Bernstein said: "I
am very sad. "I'm a guy who believes in miracles and I was
hoping for one for him. "He was a very, very selfless man,
a very quiet and thought-out man, a caring man and a great
artist. "It wasn't an accident that he had a great
reputation around the world, he was a great human being and
cared about people. "He did not seek prominence, he lived a
very quiet life and was a good soldier in the fight for
peace. "He will be sadly missed." Merseybeat star Gerry
Marsden: "It's very, very sad, he was so young and such a
very nice man I just can't believe he has gone. "It is a
great loss to the industry as George was still writing
songs. "I will remember him as the quiet one, he was no
hassle to anyone and always really polite. He kept himself
to himself. "I was big mates with John Lennon because he
was a bit mad, like me, but I have great respect for
George. "I liked George a lot, he was a great lad, God
Liverpool's Lord Mayor Gerry Scott: "He was one of the
greatest Liverpudlians. He was a warm, peace-loving man who
was much more than a talented musician. A spokesman for the
Beatles' Story Museum, Albert Dock, said: "The Beatles'
Story, Liverpool, wishes to express its heartfelt sympathy
and sadness at the tragic loss of George Harrison. "His
outstanding contribution as a musician and an individual
will be sorely missed world-wide. "Our thoughts are with
George's family and friends at this sad time. "There will
be a book of condolences for the public available at the
Professor Ray Donnelly, of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer
Foundation, said: "We are very sad, as we are when anyone
with lung cancer dies. "The sympathies of the whole
foundation go out to the family. "This demonstrates to
everyone the disastrous consequences of smoking cigarettes.
"George had smoked very heavily for many years and although
he stopped recently the damage was done when he was young."
Bob Wooler, the Cavern DJ who introduced The Beatles live
on stage: "George had to fight all the way to get the
recognition he deserved.
"The others really asserted themselves, and of course,
eventually found the winning formula which was Lennon and
McCartney. "But in those early days it would have been
wrong to talk in terms of the Mersey Sound, because all the
Beatles sang in strict rotation, and mostly cover numbers
made famous by other artists. "This meant that George, who
always stood on the left, looking at the stage, sang quite
a lot." Former Radio One DJ Simon Bates said: "He was an
individual, charming and graceful man. He was under-
appreciated when he was in the Beatles."
Liverpool solicitor Rex Makin: "I remember George as a
tousledhaired lad who used to visit Brian Epstein on a
Sunday morning. He shone out for decency and quietness. "He
was the most quiet and unassuming of all the Beatles,
distinct from the extrovert Lennon, the show off McCartney
and the muzzled Ringo. "It's a very sad day for everyone,
now we only have two Beatles left."
Tony Barrow, Beatles' first press officer from 1962-'68:
"George was certainly the friendliest Beatle from the very
beginning. "He had the reputation for being the quiet one.
He hated all of the Beatlemania thing. When I was arranging
interviews for George I had to be very selective because
sit him down in front of an interviewer who wants to know
about his collection of instruments and he would talk all
day. "He used to tune all the band's instruments before he
went on stage. "This is a very sad day."
George Harrison (Feb 25 1943 - Nov 29 2001)
HE DIDN'T like the title 'the quiet Beatle'. George
Harrison relished his privacy but he was every bit as
individual and charismatic as his three world-famous pals.
He simply loved the quiet life. His famous deadpan nasal
tones, whether in conversation or on song, spoke volumes.
They always will.
His parents Harold and Louise, his two brothers and
sister were proud of the talented lead guitarist and
youngest member of the Fab Four. George Harrison was, in
his own right, a truly great song-writer who reluctantly
stood in the shadows of the Lennon-McCartney partnership.
While John and Paul dominated on all Beatle albums with
their songs, George featured on only a couple of tracks on
each album. His name is on only 23 Beatle songs, yet the
magical history story of the greatest band the world will
ever know could not have been complete without his
considerable input. John, Paul, Ringo and George were four
minds working as one.
When asked why he signed up The Beatles, producer George
Martin told me it was down to one irreverent quip: "I asked
them if there was anything they weren't happy about. "It
was George who looked up and said:'I don't like your tie
for a start'." Ties were one of George's pet hates he
hilariously called them 'dead grotty' in the film A Hard
Day's Night. He also loathed courtroom battles. His
compositions Not Guilty and Sue Me Sue You Blues summed up
his anger and frustration at boardroom meetings with
business men he regarded as 'suits'. Yet he was tough
enough to go to court represent The Beatles in 1998 to stop
an early album from their Hamburg days from being re-
issued. On the Revolver album George wrote Taxman - a
bitter, cynical attack on the draconian Inland Revenue
taxes heaped upon the band.
This working class lad had earned every penny. Born on
February 25, 1943 at 12 Arnold Grove in Wavertree.
Schoolboy George recalled: "I always new something was
going to happen." He worked as an apprentice in Blacklers
department store and remained level-headed all his life.
And yet anyone who met him warned immediately to his down-
to-earth, boyish honesty and razor-sharp wit. Astrid
Kirchherr, one of George's closest friends from Hamburg,
said: " George always wanted to know how YOU were, how YOU
Paul Cooper, who plays Paul McCartney in the tribute band
The Bootleg Beatles, met George at the Albert Hall and
asked him what he thought of the performance. George looked
him in the eyes, smiled and said: "It's all a bit daft
really. Why don't you do your own songs?" He then added
gently: "Remember, Paul, we are just water and molecules
here on a visit."
Philosophy was something he translated so well in his
lyrics. Indian mysticism and meditation along with daily
chanting became an integral part of George's life. He also
mastered the sitar which gave The Beatles even more musical
texture in songs such as Norwegian Wood. George's natural
uncomplicated nature stayed with him till the end of his
life. In the '70s he even called himself Beatle George in
interviews. He charmed the media with his Scouse humour.
When touring in America he was asked if he was going to
get a haircut. The longest haired of the Moptops said
without his cheeky crooked grin: " I had one yesterday." He
was confident and street-wise right up until the Beatles
split and yet he was then only 26. At their countless press
conferences he made his own mark. George stressed that
"Laughter is a great release."
Fellow Liverpool Institute pupil Paul was the agreeable
public relations expert; John the sneering but affable
master of the curt one-liners, and Ringo had a lad-next-
door approach. George, meanwhile, listened to each question
until coming up with a gem of a spontaneous remark. He
didn't say much but when he did it was always worth
In The Anthology - their collective Beatle bible - and in
his own autobiography I, Me, Mine George's recollections
were filled with colourful observations of growing up in
Liverpool, of going to Hamburg, touring with The Beatles,
recording, the high and lows of success and his solo life
culminating in his idyllic world in Henley-on-Thames in
When he met up with Paul and Ringo for the Anthology
book, TV series, video and single releases, George
reflected on what being a Beatle meant to him: "In the big
picture it doesn't really matter if we never made a record
or we never sang a song. "That isn't important. At death
you are going to be needing some spiritual guidance and
some kind of inner knowledge that extends beyond the
boundaries of the physical world. "On that basis I would
say that it doesn't matter if you are the king of a
country, or you're the sultan of Brunei or you're a
fabulous Beatle; it's what's inside that counts. Some of
the best songs I know are the ones I haven't written yet
and it doesn't matter if I don't ever write them because
it's only small potatoes compared with the big picture."
Then in his 50s, the big picture changed dramatically.
George, however, will be remembered for many ground
breaking achievements not just as a Beatle.
He was the first musician to organise a band-aid type
show. His Concerts for war-torn Bangla Desh in 1971 were a
critical success. Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton joined in
raising $13m. A lot of money tragically went in taxes and
George publicly criticised the dollar-pinching authorities.
He never forgot his home town and made unannounced visits
on many occasions, and he was instrumental in the efforts
to restore the Palm House at Sefton Park - one of his
childhood haunts. He sent a substantial cheque on the
strict understanding that there was to be no publicity.
George was also passionate about film. He helped Monty
Python with the cash-strapped controversial Life of Brian.
And his Handmade Company went on to produce box office hits
The Long Good Friday and Time Bandits. He remained close
friends with The Pythons especially star Eric Idle and even
made a guest appearance on Eric's Rutland Weekend TV series
singing It's A Pirate's Life For Me after teasing the
audience with a few introductory bars of My Sweet Lord.
He also made guest appearances in the TV spoof The Rutles
playing a news reporter. George's sense of humour was
always evident on the Beatle albums and his own solo works.
On the White Album there was Savoy Truffle, warning his
friend Eric Clapton about the dangers of having his teeth
pulled due to over-indulgence on chocolates; and Piggies,
about faceless bureaucrats. There was also his distinctive
lead guitar solos.
He wrote the plaintive While My Guitar Gently Weeps, and
the sublime Something on Abbey Road - a song that Frank
Sinatra rated as one of the finest ever ballads and to this
day a Shirley Bassey showstopper.
After the Beatles he released the triple album All Things
Must pass which was re-issued 30 years on in 2001. It
showed the vast array of material George had stored up
while being a Beatle. It produced My Sweet Lord and What Is
Life and a tribute to Beatle groupies on Apple Scruffs.
Living in The Material World, the follow-up, continued his
chart-tipping gift for lyrics and melody with Give Me Love
(Give Me Peace On Earth) an anthem to match any of John or
Paul's. And, on the title track, he acknowledged The
Beatles with the pun-filled title track "though we started
out quite poor we got Richie on the tour."
He formed his own Dark Horse label and enjoyed chart
success by producing the band Splinter.
When John died, George penned the atmospheric All Those
Years Ago with Paul and Ringo as his moving backing band.
A keen motor racing fan, gardener and a George Formby fan
he even attended Formby fan conventions -, George was
content in his own world away from the madness of the
Moptops. His wife Pattie left him for Eric Clapton. The
very forgiving George even attended the wedding.
He found peace and happiness with his beautiful second
wife Olivia Arias who nursed him through ill health in
1974.Their son Dhani now looks remarkably like a young
George was also happy recording as a member of the
Travelling Wilburys group with Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff
Lynne and Tom Petty. Although George's humour was always
evident he would want to be remembered for his own
contribution to music.
When the 1987 album Cloud Nine was released he enjoyed
success with Is This is Love, the nostalgic, When We Was
Fab and I've Got My Mind Set On You.
George could make a song out of the most surreal of
situations, such as Blue Jay Way where he sang about
waiting for his a great friend ,Liverpool-born Beatles
press officer Derek Taylor, to arrive at his house in a
very foggy Los Angeles. And perfectionist George would
readily help out his fellow Beatles on their solo albums.
He did, according to John, do some of his best guitar work
on the Imagine album and collaborated on the number one
song Photograph with Ringo.
He also dabbled in politics by supporting the Natural Law
Party enthusiastically. During his last few years he
appeared in the Press constantly reassuring his fans not to
worry. On his brilliant website www.allthingsmustpass.com,
he presented a little figure who popped up on screen to
say: "I Feel Fine". Sadly, we knew George the survivor
wasn't fine at all.
The near fatal knife attack in 1999 at his home and the
cancer that would never go away finally took its toll. The
Harrison features looked drawn and haggard and yet ... in
the end ... he always had that smile. There was something
about that smile ... George always kept his feet on the
ground. His Liverpool upbringing helped one of the most
famous and photographed people in the world come to terms
In the Beatles Anthology his closing words are the most
prophetic. "The moral of the story is that if you accept
the high points you're going to have to go through the
lows. "For The Beatles our lives were a very heightened
version of that: of how to learn about love and hate, and
up and down; and good and bad, and loss and gain. It was a
hyper version of what everybody else was going through. "So
basically it's all good. Whatever happened is good as long
as we've learnt something. It's only bad if we didn't
learn: 'Who am I? Where am I going to? Where have I come
from?'." George knew who he was. We, his fans, can only
hope that he knew how much we loved him. Because he loved
the fans "I'd like to think that the old Beatle fans have
grown up and got married and they've all got kids and
they're all more responsible. "But they still have a space
in their hearts for us ..."
Like John, George preached about peace and a better world
illustrated so well on the uplifting classic Here Comes the
Sun. Today that sun is hidden behind clouds. The skies are
black but his memory shines on and it will break through to
stay with us forever. His humour , his philosophy and those
beautifully crafted songs will lift our gloom and the grief
that we all feel not only in Liverpool, his hometown, but
across the universe where his incredible life touched
millions. The ice will slowly melt as his fans are left to
remember him and treasure the simple legacy of love that he
has left behind not only through his music but his
spirituality. Beatle George wouldn't have wanted it any