Fans around the world are mourning the death of Beatles lead guitarist George Harrison, who died yesterday (Nov. 29) at age 58 in Los Angeles, after a long battle with cancer. Lone surviving Beatles P
Fans around the world are mourning the death of Beatles lead guitarist George Harrison, who died yesterday (Nov. 29) at age 58 in Los Angeles, after a long battle with cancer. Lone surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr spoke of their love for Harrison, who was the youngest member of the group. "We will miss George for his sense of love, his sense of music, and his sense of laughter," Starr said. McCartney described Harrison as "a lovely guy, full of humor. He was a beautiful man and the world will miss him."
"The world has lost a great spirit in George Harrison, a great musician, songwriter, and friend," Michael Jackson said in a statement. "He was an inspiration to me, and I will miss him a great deal."
News of Harrison's death became public early this morning, and within hours, dozens of Beatle enthusiasts headed to the Strawberry Fields section of New York's Central Park for an impromptu memorial. Many left flowers, candles, and notes at a makeshift shrine, while others paused to reflect before continuing to or from work.
Strawberry Fields, which takes its name from the Beatles song "Strawberry Fields Forever," was dedicated to John Lennon after his 1980 shooting death at the hands of a deranged fan. On any given day, a lighted candle or vase of flowers can be seen there on a mosaic with the word "IMAGINE."
Near the mosaic, one fan placed a drawing of Lennon with Harrison with the inscription "Goodbye George. May you and John be together forever." Strawberry Fields plays host to a vigil every Dec. 8 commemorating Lennon's killing across the street.
In Los Angeles, fans stopped at the Beatles star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to leave candles, flowers, and other tributes. At Harrison's mansion near London, fans left bunches of roses and lilies. British Prime Minister Tony Blair told reporters this morning, "we grew up with the Beatles. Their music and their personalities were the background to our lives."
"I am very saddened by George's death and will miss him enormously," Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger said in a statement. "He was the first musician I knew who developed a truly spiritual side and he was generous with his time to both charity and to friends." Stones guitarist Keith Richards added, "We both felt we held similar positions in our respective bands, which formed a special knowing bond between us. Let's hope he's jamming with John."
Despite his failing health, Harrison appeared this year as a guest on recordings by former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman and former Traffic principal Jim Capaldi. For the latter's single "Anna Julia," recently released by the German label SPV and on the album "Living on the Outside," Harrison recorded guitar tracks in his home studio.
"I asked him if he would play on it beause it had a very Beatles-y vibe," Capaldi told Billboard.com today from Stuttgart, Germany, "and he was only too pleased to do it for me. I was honored and grateful." Capaldi also revealed that the pair worked on other material that has yet to be released. "I was messing around with him in the studio when he was putting some stuff together towards a possible solo album. There's some stuff lying around, some really nice things. Whatever will happen to them will happen. If anything does come out, it will just have been fantastic to have worked with him and known him."
Harrison made what turned out to his final recording Oct. 1 when he cut vocals at his Swiss home for "Horse to the Water," released earlier this month in the U.K. on "Small World Big Band," an album by British musician and broadcaster Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra. In a knowing nod to his own mortality, Harrison credited the song to "RIP Ltd. 2001."
The album debuted at No. 18 in the U.K. this week, well ahead of more high-profile releases by Mick Jagger, Cher, and Smashing Pumpkins.
-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.; Paul Sexton, London; & AP
Copyright 2001 Billboard.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.