"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."
——Paul McCartney


George Harrison Dies at 58
The pop world mourned the passing yesterday of George Harrison, the Beatles' soft-spoken lead guitarist and spiritual explorer, who died after a long battle with various forms of cancer at a friend's home in Los Angeles. He was 58 and a lifelong cigarette smoker. 

George had spent the last few weeks shuttling back and forth from various medical facilities in New York and at UCLA in Los Angeles seeking radical care for a rapidly advancing cancer. Reports emerged from the U.K. last month that the former Fab Four member was near death.

"He died with one thought in mind—'love one another,'" his longtime friend Gavin De Becker told AP late Thursday, adding Harrison's wife, Olivia Harrison, and son Dhani, 24, were with him when he died.

Now one of only two Beatles still alive after the 1980 murder of John Lennon, Paul McCartney told reporters outside his London home on Friday that he was devastated by the death of Harrison. "He was a lovely guy and a very brave man and had a wonderful sense of humor. He is really just my baby brother."

"George was a best friend of mine," said Ringo, the other surviving member of the seminal group, from a friend's home in Vancouver. "I loved him very much and I will miss him greatly. Both Barbara and I send our love and light to Olivia and Dhani. We will miss George for his sense of love, his sense of music and his sense of laughter."

Apple's Neil Aspinall added: "This is a sad day for Apple and all Beatles fans worldwide. It was my privilege to have been a friend of such a very special man. He will be greatly missed by us all. Our love and condolences go out to Olivia and Dhani at this time."

At Liverpool's town hall, the flag was lowered to half-staff Friday morning in tribute.

Harrison, the youngest member of the world's most famous pop group, will always be remembered for his devotion to Oriental mysticism. It was he who persuaded the other Beatles to fly to India to commune with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a moment memorialized in Lennon's sardonic "Sexy Sady."

In 1998, when Harrison disclosed that he had been treated for throat cancer, he said: "It reminds you that anything can happen." The following year, he survived an attack by an intruder who stabbed him several times.

Harrison was a distinct presence in the early Beatles, though he often took a back seat to the more flamboyant Lennon and McCartney and even the affable Ringo. He often blended indistinguishably in the back with the band's joyous sound, though he eventually distinguished himself with Indian-flavored gems like "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Within You Without You."  He also penned such Beatles standards as the bitter "Taxman," "Here Comes The Sun" and the haunting "Something."

He always preferred being a musician to being a star, and he soon soured on Beatlemania. He was actually the first member of the band to go solo, with a pair of electronic soundtracks in the late '60s, Electronic Sounds and Wonderwall Music, the latter pinched for their own song by Oasis. His memories of the Beatles were often tempered by what he felt was lost in all the madness, including his own songwriting contributions.

"There was never anything, in any of the Beatle experiences really, that good: even the best thrill soon got tiring," Harrison wrote in his 1979 book, I, Me, Mine. "There was never any doubt. The Beatles were doomed. Your own space, man, it's so important. That's why we were doomed, because we didn't have any. We were like monkeys in a zoo."

Still, in a 1992 interview with The Daily Telegraph, Harrison confided: "We had the time of our lives: We laughed for years."

As the Beatles grew apart, Harrison collaborated with artists like Eric Clapton on the song "Badge," performed with Cream. After the band broke up in 1970, Harrison had sporadic success. His first solo album, '70's three-CD All Things Must Pass, was his most successful, including such hits as "My Sweet Lord," for which he was sued for plagiarizing the Chiffons' "He's So Fine," and "If Not For You," co-written with Bob Dylan. He organized the famed Concert for Bangladesh in New York City in 1971, while his Handmade Films produced movies, including Monty Python's Life of Brian, before he sold the company in 1994 for $8.5 million.

Harrison gently tweaked his band's legacy with the single, "When We Was Fab," from his 1987 solo album, Cloud Nine, then stepped back into the spotlight with old friends, including Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Dylan, in 1988 as The Traveling Wilburys, scoring a hit single in "Handle With Care." 

The so-called Quiet Beatle was born Feb. 25, 1943, in Liverpool, one of four children of Harold and Louise Harrison. His father, a former ship's steward, became a bus conductor soon after his marriage.

Harrison was 13 when he bought his first guitar and befriended McCartney at their school. McCartney introduced him to Lennon, who had founded a band called the Quarry Men—Harrison was allowed to play if one of the regulars didn't show up. According to legend, it was George who helped teach John how to play guitar.

In 1966, he married model Patti Boyd, who had a bit part in the Beatles movie, A Hard Day's Night. They divorced in 1977, and she married Harrison's friend Clapton, who had written "Layla" about his love for her. Just to show he was't a bad sport, Harrison attended the wedding.

More than any of the Beatles, Harrison craved quiet. Late in 1966, after the Beatles had ceased touring, he went to India, where he studied with sitarist Ravi Shankar. George ended up playing the sitar on such classics as "Within You, Without You," and introduced Shankar to American audiences at Monterey Pop and his own Concert for Bangladesh.

He married the exotic beauty Olivia Arias in 1978, a month after his son Dhani was born.

Fans have been gathering at Strawberry Fields in New York's Central Park and around the Beatles star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame bearing flowers, candles and handmade mementos to pay tribute to the musician.

Networks have already announced programming dedicated to Harrison. VH1 presents an exclusive news report, Remembering George Harrison, tonight, at 6 p.m. (ET/PT), followed by a half-hour special featuring Beatles and George Harrison music videos (at 6:30 p.m.), and the one-hour interview/performance, George Harrison: The Last Performance (at 7 p.m.). The entire two-hour programming cycle will be repeated at 8 p.m., midnight and tomorrow (12/1) at noon (ET/PT).

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