George Harrison Dead At 58 http://www.cbsnews.com
<UL TYPE=SQUARE>'Quiet' Beatle Had Long Struggle With Cancer
Solo Career Produced Masterpieces Including 'All Things Must Pass'
His Legacy: Great Music And A Love For Spirituality, Meaning In Life[/list]
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 30, 2001
(CBS) George Harrison, the Beatles' quiet lead guitarist and spiritual explorer who added both rock 'n' roll flash and a touch of the mystic to the band's timeless magic, has died, according to a longtime family friend. He was 58.
Harrison died Thursday afternoon at the Los Angeles home of a friend following a lengthy battle with cancer, longtime Harrison friend Gavin De Becker said.
"He died with one thought in mind - love one another," De Becker said.
"I am devastated and very, very sad," former Beatle Paul McCartney told The Press Association, a British news agency, early Friday. "He was a lovely guy and a very brave man and had a wonderful sense of humor. He is really just my baby brother."
With Harrison when he died were his wife Olivia Harrison, and son Dhani, 24. The Harrisons met 27 years ago and were married about 23 years.
"He left this world as he lived in it, conscious of God, fearless of death, and at peace, surrounded by family and friends. He often said, 'Everything else can wait but the search for God cannot wait, and love one another,' Harrison's family said in a statement.
The exact nature of the cancer wasn't disclosed.
"This is a very private thing. They are very private," De Becker said of the family.
He would only say Harrison died "at the home of a dear friend."
It wasn't immediately known if there would be a public funeral for Harrison. A private ceremony had already taken place, De Becker said Thursday night.
Harrison fought cancer for years and only a few weeks ago was in New York City for treatment at a hospital known for its oncology program.
His death now leaves just two surviving members of the Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
Back in the days when they were four moptop lads - John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr - Harrison was known as "The Quiet Beatle."
"George Harrison has given so much to us in his lifetime, and he continues to do so, even after his passing, with his music, his wit, and his wisdom. Thank you, George," said Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, in a statement issued early today.
Alan Williams, The Beatles' first manager, describes Harrison as the major cog in The Beatles. "He kept them together probably because of the calming effect he had," said Williams, after hearing the sad news.
Harrison's songs sometimes took a back seat to those written by Lennon and McCartney - an irritant to Harrison, especially later in his career - but he was always a force to be reckoned with, both as a guitarist and a songwriter.
Harrison was born Feb. 25, 1943, making him the youngest Beatle and the only one whose childhood was not marred by divorce or death. He showed his rebellious nature early, defying his school's dress code by wearing jeans and growing his hair long. In 1956, when the hip, folk-inspired "skiffle" craze hit, Harrison and his brother formed a band, but their young age forced them to sneak out of the house to play.
Harrison and Paul McCartney rode the same bus to school, and soon found they had music and guitars in common. In 1956, McCartney introduced the 14-year-old Harrison to The Quarrymen.
Not old enough to join, Harrison hung around, idolizing John Lennon and emulating everything he could. Harrison stood in the back of the room at all their shows with his guitar. A few times he filled in for the regular guitarist. Gradually, Harrison became a member of the band.
During a Beatles' gig in Hamburg, Harrison received a deportation notice because he was only 17. A curfew existed for anyone under 18. The police were informed and George was homeward bound. He has said the Beatles never really set out to become the greatest rock band in history.
Yet the man who introduced the other Beatles to Eastern mysticism and brought the sitar into rock and roll always managed to make a musical statement, either with his own compositions or with his guitar work. He was the distinctive lead guitarist on the band's classic tunes and added his vocals to John's and Paul's.
Critics say many of his own songs ranked among the best pop tunes ever. "Taxman," "Something," "Here Comes The Sun" and ""While My Guitar Gently Weeps" were some of his best-known contributions to the Beatles legacy.
He met teenage model Patty Boyd while filming "A Hard Day's Night" and they married on Jan. 21, 1966.
When the Beatles broke up in 1970, Harrison began a solo career, producing what many consider his masterpiece, "All Things Must Pass."
Harrison organized the 1971 benefit Concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden with such friends as Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton to raise money to help millions of starving people in a part of the world Harrison had come to love.
Clapton was also in love with Boyd and eventually she split from Harrison to be with his friend.
Harrison produced seven gold albums and became a movie producer in the late '70s. His autobiography, "I, Me, Mine," was published in 1980. Olivia Arrias became his second wife in 1978 and their son Dhani is Harrison's only child.
In the late 1980s he formed the Traveling Wilburys with Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. In 1997, Harrison was diagnosed with throat cancer and treated successfully. In Dec. 1999, Harrison and his wife were woken when a man wielding a knife stabbed Harrison in the chest at his home.
Fans sometimes spotted him drinking in his local pub or puttering around on the grounds of his mansion.
George Harrison's legacy will be both his music, with the Beatles and on his own, and the way he lived his life, especially his pursuit of spirituality and meaning in life. That was a quest that took him from Liverpool to London to America and the rest of the world. Friends say he spent his last days preparing himself spiritually for his own death, reflecting on something he learned all those years ago: all things must pass.
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