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Friday, 30 November, 2001, 14:46 GMT
Beatles' circle mourns Harrison
George Harrison
Guitar gently weeping: the young George Harrison
The Beatles' inner circle is in mourning for George Harrison, who has died at the age of 58 after a long battle with cancer.

Former bandmate Sir Paul McCartney said: "We'd known he'd been ill for some time, I'm just very sad he's passed on.

"I've spoken to Olivia and she's being very strong, and I'd like to ask people to be very kind to her and Danhi, George's son, at this time.

"I like to remember all the good times we had together in Liverpool and with the Beatles - and ever since.

Sir Paul McCartney
Sir Paul has paid tribute to the youngest Beatle
"He had a great sense of humour - I was lucky enough to see him a couple of weeks ago and he was still laughing and joking, a very brave man.

"I'm privileged to have known him and I love him like a brother, " said McCartney.

And Beatles drummer Ringo Starr said: "George was a best friend of mine.

"I loved him very much and I will miss him greatly. Both Barbara (Ringo's wife) 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."

'Wonderful musician'

Sir George Martin, who took a gamble on signing the unknown Beatles and became their producer, said Harrison had entered "a higher state".

"George was a wonderful musician and a fine human being," said Sir George.

Sir George Martin
Sir George: A key role in the Beatles' success
"He was the baby of the Beatles, and unlike Paul and John, he had a hard time developing his songwriting talent and making his music alone.

"But he worked hard, and with enormous patience, building his music meticulously, and he eventually came to write one of the greatest love songs of all time - Something."

Yoko Ono, the widow of John Lennon, said Harrison had brought magic to the lives of those who knew him.

She also said her deep love and concern went to Olivia and Dhani.

'Wit and wisdom'

"George has given so much to us in his lifetime and continues to do so even after his passing, with his music, his wit and his wisdom.

Flowers
Fans have left tributes at the Abbey Road studios

"His life was magical and we all felt we had shared a little bit of it by knowing him.

"Thank you, George - it was grand knowing you."

Fellow Liverpudlian Cilla Black, whose husband Bobby Willis died from cancer in 1999, knew the Beatles from their early days at the city's Cavern Club.

"I am deeply saddened and shocked to hear the news about George," she said.

"My sympathies are with Olivia and Dhani and the rest of the family at this very sad time."

'Pain'

Gerry Marsden, of Merseybeat band Gerry and the Pacemakers, said: "A great musician has gone to heaven.

"In a way...at least through his death, he will have been released from all the pain he has been going through."

The Beatles' label, EMI, issued a statement from Abbey Road.

Yoko One
"Thank you, George - it was grand knowing you."
"We are all deeply saddened by the death of George Harrison.

"As someone who shaped our musical and cultural history, his influence cannot be over-estimated.

"As a musician and a humanitarian, he helped change our world. We are proud to have known him."

Neil Aspinall, the head of the Beatles' own record company, Apple, said: "This is a very sad day for Apple and for 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.

'Calming effect'

Alan Williams, The Beatles' first manager, paid tribute to the "talented musician" he first met at the tender age of 17.

"He kept them together, probably because of the calming effect he had," Williams said.

George and Olivia
George and Olivia lived in Henley-on-Thames

Mary Hopkin, who recorded with the Beatles' Apple label and until recently lived near Harrison in Henley-on-Thames, described the death as a "great loss".

"It was not a surprise but was nevertheless tragic news."

Tony Barrow, Beatles press officer from 1962-68, remembered Harrison's musicianship.

"He was a fastidious musician - before a performance he'd often be putting not only his own guitar in tune but also the instruments of the other lads.

"He was a fine musician, and if he had not lived under this overbearing shadow of Lennon and McCartney he would have been recognised as a great songwriter rather earlier."

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Sir Paul McCartney, former Beatle
"I love him like a brother"
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