Beatle's final magical tour -
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old Nov 30th, 2002, 01:36 PM Thread Starter
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Beatle's final magical tour

Beatle's final magical tour

Fiercely reclusive to the end, George Harrison planned his death with the secrecy of an Egyptian pharaoh and died in a place provided by fellow Beatle Paul McCartney.

THE widow of Beatle George Harrison hosted a star-studded rock concert at Royal Albert Hall yesterday in celebration of her husband and to mark the first anniversary of his death.

The best seats -- at almost $500 -- sold out within an hour for a concert that would have undoubtedly appealed to Harrison's bleak Liverpudlian humour.

"Supervisor of musical content" was guitar virtuoso Eric Clapton, who stole the Beatle's first wife Patti Boyd, and topping the bill was fellow Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, who barely spoke to George after the band split up, and refused to share a stage with him.

Stoical Olivia and son Dhani -- at 24 the image of his father, down to the centre-parted Beatle haircut, baleful brown eyes and taciturn smile -- carried off the year's biggest society pop night with aplomb. But there have been times in the past year when Olivia, 54, has almost succumbed to her grief. She has been rarely seen outside Friar Park, the gothic estate she and George loved, on the fringes of Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire.

The Harrisons became almost inseparable after falling in love 25 years ago, when Olivia was appointed his personal secretary.

Harrison went to incredible lengths to ensure his death would cause minimal distress to his wife and son. A friend described how he plotted his end and its aftermath "like an Egyptian pharaoh".

But Harrison's meticulous plans have been undermined and Olivia's pain prolonged and exacerbated by a succession of cruel blows.

When The Beatles were at their zenith, McCartney and Ringo Starr revelled in fame, and John Lennon dangerously flirted with it. Harrison, the so-called Quiet Beatle, unreservedly loathed it and became reclusive after the group's acrimonious break-up.

Then, after Lennon was shot dead in 1980, Harrison's desire for privacy bordered on the obsessive. He and his family retreated behind the high walls of Friar Park, brothers Harry and Peter were enlisted as security chief and head gardener, he stopped dropping into the nearby Row Barge pub for a lunchtime pint, changed his phone number almost weekly and paid a fortune for state-of-the-art security monitoring.

Yet he was front page news again in 1999, when a deranged knifeman, Michael Abram, breached the defences and stabbed him, almost to death.

A year later, when cancer that first surfaced in his neck and a lung in 1997 returned with a vengeance, Harrison promised himself he would retain absolute control. Never again would he allow his precious privacy, or that of Olivia and Dhani, to be violated.

However, his determination to preserve absolute secrecy was to have the opposite effect.

He was, at heart, an optimist. Even as he walked -- barely a few metres -- without support in last year's northern summer, he and Olivia fell for a beautiful Swiss villa near where he underwent pioneering cobalt-ray treatment.

His formal acceptance as a Swiss resident, on August 20, three months before he died, went unreported.

Harrison, at 58, grew frightfully thin and could barely summon the energy to work on a new album, Brainwashed, co-produced by his multi-talented son and old friend Jeff Lynne of the ELO (Brainwashed was released last week).

Dhani Harrison proudly recalls: "He never felt sorry for himself or went into depression. We took the view 'be here now' and made the most of our time. He used to say: 'Oh, you're going to have to finish all these songs'. I'd say: 'Well, not if you do it first -- get off your a--e and finish them!'

"We'd discussed the songs so much I had a very good idea of what he wanted."

While making Dhani aware of his posthumous artistic wishes, Harrison spelled out to Olivia precisely how he wanted his life to end.

Between new cancer treatments in New York, Harrison told her he wanted to make his peace with key people in his life. His differences with McCartney, dating back to the legal battles after the Beatles break-up, were buried amid tearful hugs.

"None of it matters any more," Harrison told McCartney.

Another important reconciliation was with older sister Louise Harrison, 71, who drove 1300km from her Illinois home to see him.

As children in Liverpool, Louise and George had been extremely close, but Harrison distanced himself from her in the mid-1990s because he disapproved of the conversion of her old home into a "Beatles bed-and-breakfast" inn called A Hard Day's Night.

"His sense of humour was the same as ever," she said. "People always teased him about his sticky-out ears; now his oxygen tubes were hanging over them. He laughed and said, 'My ears finally came in useful for something.'"

They parted with what she called a "Harrison Hug".

Harrison then set about arranging the practicalities of dying.

Unwittingly, he set in train the events that were to trouble Olivia.

He was anxious that he died in accordance with the traditions of the Krishna religion, so that his passage to the next life would be assured. He was also determined that his final resting place would not, under any circumstances, become a shrine.

On Thursday night, November 22, he was smuggled on a private jet at JFK Airport, New York, to 9536 Heather Rd, Los Angeles, a handsome, stone-built mansion on the manicured fringes of Beverly Hills that McCartney had bought from singer Courtney Love.

Harrison requested the presence of the two Krishna devotees who had acted as his spiritual mentors since he embraced the movement three decades earlier.

As his life ebbed away, they knelt at his bed, taking turns to chant the "Hare Krishna" mantra over and over. Harrison believed anyone who heard Krishna's name at the precise moment of death would go directly to him.

The end came mercifully quickly. Although subsequent reports recorded the time as 1.20am, the death certificate states that he died 12 hours later. His place of death was named as 1971 Coldwater Canyon -- an address that does not exist.

When the ruse emerged, an LA lawyer filed a formal complaint of falsification to demonstrate that even legendary pop stars were not above the law.

Another legal case involves the attempted sale of keepsakes by a former brother-in-law.

One secret that remains uncovered is the whereabouts of Harrison's remains.

After his simple cremation, there was endless speculation about the destination of his ashes. The most commonly held assumption was that they would be scattered on the Ganges.

But early last December, the Harrison family was granted a licence to export the ashes from LA to Switzerland. Apparently they were to be strewn across George's beloved gardens at Collina d'Oro, the villa he and Olivia fell in love with.

If so, no one at the house will confirm it.

The final resting place of the Harrison remains a mystery.

For that much, at least, the Quiet Beatle would be thankful.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old Nov 30th, 2002, 07:02 PM Thread Starter
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Surviving Beatles Pay Harrison Tribute
Associated Press Writer

LONDON (AP)--Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney reunited Friday night for an emotional musical tribute to the memory of George Harrison on the anniversary of the ex-Beatle's death.

With Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker and Harrison's son Dhani, the surviving Beatles shared a night of musical memories with an audience of 5,000 devoted fans at the ``Concert For George'' at London's Royal Albert Hall.

Money raised by the concert is to benefit the Material World Charitable Foundation, which Harrison founded.

The ex-Beatle, 58, who succumbed to cancer was the second from the group to die. John Lennon was shot to death in 1980.

Harrison left almost $155 million in his will, according to court documents released Friday. Details of the beneficiaries and the division of the money was not made public.

Sitar star Ravi Shankar, Harrison's musical guru in his Beatles days, told the audience, ``I strongly feel that George is here tonight. I mean how can he not be here when all of us who loved him so much have assembled all together to sing for him and play music for him.''

Clapton kicked off the Beatles hits with ``I Want To Tell You,'' before Cocker and Dhani Harrison joined him for ``Here Comes The Sun.'' Clapton had the crowd on its feet for a standing ovation with the words: ``Ladies and gentlemen, Ringo Starr!''

The ex-Beatle ran on stage to tumultuous applause. He saluted the crowd and said: ``What a night! I loved George and George loved me.''

Many in the audience danced to the music. Starr grabbed the mike and introduced McCartney, bringing the audience to its feet again.

All the performers assembled onstage for a specially written finale, ``I'll See You In My Dreams,'' and many fans wiped away tears as the artists bowed and clapped the audience.

In Los Angeles, a small crowd gathered Friday at the Beatles' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to mark Harrison's death. Longtime Southern California peace activist Jerry Rubin said the memorial was marked by sadness as well as ``a celebration of George's life and his ongoing promotion of peace and love.''
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old Nov 30th, 2002, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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Michele Bessem from Holland wears a Beatles patch as she stands in line at the Royal Albert Hall in London for the George Harrison memorial concert, November 29, 2002. Former Beatle Harrison left nearly 100 million pounds ($155,301,000) in his will, it emerged on Friday as Sir Paul McCartney (news) prepared for the tribute concert for his former colleague.

Beatles fan Carlos Branco arrives at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Friday Nov. 29, 2002, for a star-studded concert to commemorate the death of ex-Beatle George Harrison, one year ago.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old Nov 30th, 2002, 07:08 PM Thread Starter
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Ex-Beatle Harrison Leaves $153 Million
Sat Nov 30, 9:03 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - Former Beatle George Harrison left more than $153 million in his will, it has emerged as Sir Paul McCartney (news) prepared for a tribute concert for his former colleague.

The High Court, which administered the will, said on Friday Harrison left $153.46 million after his death from cancer last November.

Court officials would not confirm local media reports that the money would be split between Harrison's wife Olivia, family members and charities.

Details of Harrison's estate were made public before an all-star benefit concert in central London on Friday.

McCartney was due to appear on stage with Fab Four drummer Ringo Starr (news), former Cream frontman Eric Clapton (news) and Jeff Lynne (news), co-founder of British band Electric Light Orchestra.

Olivia Harrison arranged the concert at the Royal Albert Hall with Clapton to mark the first anniversary of her husband's death.

"The tribute for George will resound not only within the Albert Hall but hopefully reach the spirit of the man so loved by his friends who will be performing and attending," Olivia Harrison said in a statement.

Other performers due to appear include British musician Jools Holland, American singer Tom Petty (news) and Ravi Shankar, the Indian sitar player who influenced Harrison.

The sell-out concert will raise money for one of Harrison's favorite charities, the Material World Charitable Foundation, which supports the arts, education and people with special needs.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old Nov 30th, 2002, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
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Sir Paul McCartney told the crowd: "Olivia just said with Dhani on stage it looks like we all got old and George stayed young"

'Spectacular and moving' tribute
21.24PM GMT, 30 Nov 2002

The two remaining Beatles have been reunited on stage for a spectacular and moving musical tribute to George Harrison.

Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were joined by Harrison's son Dhani, who bears a close resemblance to his late father at the height of Beatlemania in the 60s.

They met for a concert at London's Royal Albert Hall marking the first anniversary of the "quiet Beatle's" death.

The trio and other stars, including Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, reprised a string of Harrison's hits in the Concert for George.

The concert brought both cheers and tears to the 5,000-strong audience, including the Beatles' original producer George Martin.

Clapton, the musical director for the night, opened the evening's entertainment telling the audience: "We are here to celebrate the life and music of George Harrison.

"It's a beautiful occasion for me because I can share my love of George with you, his wife Olivia and son Dhani and experience and witness how much we loved him through his music tonight so thank you all for coming."

He then kicked off the show to a huge cheer with a rousing rendition of I Want To Tell You, before being joined on stage by Cocker and Dhani for Here Comes The Sun.

They were followed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers who brought a wave of clapping and cheers as they began the opening bars of Taxman, with Jools Holland on piano and Sam Brown supporting.

Starr received a tumultuous applause when he ran on stage. "What a night. I loved George and George loved me," he told the crowd.

He sang Photograph, which he co-wrote with Harrison, as Clapton, Jeff Lynne and Dhani played guitar. He was then joined by Sir Paul and the two surviving Beatles played the "Fab Four's hit I Love You.

Sir Paul then raised a massive cheer from the crowd when as he strummed a ukelele they heard the first strains of Harrison's classic love song, Something.

He was joined on guitar by Dhani and Clapton while Starr played drums along with an orchestra string section.

The concert was organised by Harrison's widow, Olivia, as a special tribute to her husband, with the money raised going to the charity Harrison founded, The Material World Charitable Foundation.

Sir Paul also played piano and Clapton sang to While my Guitar Gently Weeps, before ending with a two-minute guitar solo.

Dhani on guitar then started off My Sweet Lord sang by Sam Brown. He told the audience: "I just want from the bottom of my heart to thank all the musicians, you are my dad's best friends, he loves you. God bless you all."

Sir Paul told the crowd: "Olivia just said with Dhani on stage it looks like we all got old and George stayed young."

All the artists in the show, including Jeff Lynne and The Travelling Wilburys and Billy Preston, filed on stage for the final song of the night, a specially written and recorded number, I'll See You In My Dreams.

The first part of the show was specially composed by Ravi Shankar, Harrison's musical guru in his Beatles days, who introduced Harrison to the Indian sitar adopted by the Beatles on many tracks.

Harrison's interest in India, Hari Krishna and Eastern mysticism clearly influenced the event with the sound of the sitar played by Shankar's daughter Anoushka resounding throughout the auditorium.

Harrison died aged 58 in Los Angeles after losing his battle against cancer.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old Nov 30th, 2002, 11:29 PM Thread Starter
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