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Friday, 30 November, 2001, 08:38 GMT
Harrison's Beatles experience
George Harrison, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney
George Harrison (L] often shunned his fame
By Beatles biographer Keith Badman

George Harrison was the reluctant Beatle.

While the other members of The Beatles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, were happy to thrust themselves into the spotlight, George was the one to be found shunning his fame.

He was forced to exist in the wonderful musical shadows that were John Lennon and Paul McCartney, a position that urged George to once describe himself as the "Economy class Beatle".

Later, when discussing his former group, he was forced to admit: "I felt like an observer of The Beatles, even though I was with them. I think John and Paul were the stars of The Beatles."

George Harrison
Harrison: "Economy class Beatle"
But, aside from a couple of brief disagreements, George always seemed to remain close to John after the split of the group, but with Paul, it was much more arduous.

When Paul would announce that some kind of Beatles reconciliation was on the cards, George would retaliate, announcing, like he did in 1974, that he "never wants to play in a band with Paul McCartney again".

But with Ringo, George always remained close, often being seen out in public, socialising and even appearing in occasional concerts together, like the Carl Perkins television special and the Princes Trust shows in 1985 and 1987 respectively.

And while John, Paul and George had their expected difficulties in dealing with each other after The Beatles acrimonious split, Ringo became the friendly bridge between the group's dissected members.

George and Paul McCartney
George and Paul "clashed in the studio"
And for fans, the thought that two members of The Beatles are no longer with us, is one that is most hard to swallow.

When we watched their first film A Hard Day's Night, or any others of their big-screen movies, we honestly believed that The Beatles, and its members, were bigger than human and would last for eternity, remaining ageless.

Very slowly, and reluctantly, we became accustomed to the tragic passing of John Lennon in 1980. But 21 years later, the passing of George Harrison, succumbing to cancer makes us realise that even the great Beatles are susceptible to the things that affect mere mortals.

For the first time, it seemed that George had, at last, become the important Beatle and it must have given him immense pleasure to realise that we did, after all, really did love the quiet, spiritual and kind member of The Fab Four.

George Harrison
"An underrated musical genius"
The Beatles legacy is still unchallenged.

We'll still talk, listen and dissect the group's legacy for many years to come. A new generation of Beatles worshippers will spring up next year when Love Me Do celebrates its 40th anniversary.

But it's most sad to report that now, 39 years after their debut release, just Paul and Ringo are still with us, to charm and entertain us. It just doesn't seem right.

We really did believe they'd outlive us all. Thankfully, I'm sure that Paul will still be with us when he's 64, still releasing albums and promoting vegetarianism.

And I'm also sure that Ringo will continue to perform songs and deliver new albums for many years to come.

Massive blow

George once described dying as just the removal of one overcoat, while the sprit lives on. Due to his strong Krishna belief, George took John Lennon's death philosophically.

But his death will still come as a massive blow to his former Beatles colleagues and his many legions of fans around the world.

Paul recently broke off from Wingspan promotions to visit George in Italy and Ringo said that he had been in regular contact with George.

For them, there is nothing that can be written to explain how they must be feeling. More than losing a Beatles colleague, they have lost a dear friend, someone that they endured so much with in the crazy 60s and beyond.

Shrine

In this sad time, they'll take solace when they recall the Beatles song George wrote which contained the line: "Life flows on within in and without you."

And for the fans, there is no doubt that scenes of mass hysteria will be witnessed.

George's mansion in Henley, like John's Dakota apartment block in New York, will become a shrine to thousands of fans from around the world.

For many of these fans, The Beatles are their life and the thought that this world will be one more Beatle less, will be extremely hard to digest.

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