By Michael Kazanjian
December 6, 2001

George Harrison, “the quiet Beatle,” lost his struggle with cancer on Thursday Nov. 30, 2001. Harrison, 58, died in Los Angeles with his wife and son by his side. In Liverpool, England, where Harrison was born and lived his adolescent days, flags flew half-mast.

The amount of media attention that has followed Harrison’s death is something that Harrison purposely avoided after The Beatles’ demise in late 1969. Harrison loved the music, but not the mayhem. Harrison stood in the shadows of Paul McCartney and John Lennon, but his contribution to the success of The Beatles is extraordinary. Harrison wrote instant classics like “Here Comes the Sun,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and “Something,” which Frank Sinatra once referred to as “the most beautiful love song ever written.” He also introduced his band mates to the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Soon after, The Beatles became involved in transcendental meditation. The other Beatles eventually dropped the methods, but Harrison continued.

Harrison announced in 1998 that he had throat cancer, but was undergoing treatments. In 1999, an intruder broke into his home and stabbed him multiple times. Harrison remained optimistic about his health and this past summer he asked fans around the world not to worry about reports stating that he was still battling cancer.

Harrison is the second Beatle to pass on. John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark Chapman on Dec. 8, 1980. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are the last remaining Beatles. “I am devastated and very, very sad,” McCartney said early Friday, the day after Harrison’s death. “He was a lovely guy and a very brave man and had a wonderful sense of humor. He is really just my baby brother.” Starr said, “George was a best friend of mine. I loved him very much and I will miss him greatly. We will miss George for his sense of love, his sense of music and his sense of laughter.”

Each of the four Bealtes’ had their own personality. Harrison held his place with his quick wit and openness. When The Beatles finished their first recording session under producer George Martin, Martin asked them if there was anything they didn’t like. Harrison quipped: “Well first of all, I don’t like your tie.” And during their first televised press conference a reporter asked them what they called their unique hairstyle, Harrison said he called his “Arthur.” He even found a way to place humor in his own failing health. He credited his newest song, “Horse to the Water,” to “RIP Ltd. 2001.”

After the breakup of The Beatles, Harrison came into public view only when he wanted to. In 1971, Harrison organized the concert for Bangladesh, the first all-star concert benefit of its kind. His interest moved to film and soon after he produced Monty Python’s “The Life of Brian.” Harrison, along with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison formed The Traveling Wilburys, a super group who released two albums and a top ten single.

Harrison’s landmark album “All Things Must Pass” was re-released earlier this year and has had great success. His music, with and without The Beatles, will remain a constant example of hope, love and self-reflection. On Tuesday, Dec. 4 Harrison’s ashes were spread over the Ganges River in India. Gavin De Becker, a longtime friend of Harrison’s said, “He died with one thought in mind-love one another.”

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Michael Kazanjian

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