The Beatles shared tears with George Harrison in final meeting before death
Paul McCartney reacts to George Harrison’s death in 2001
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In July 2001 it was announced George Harrison was being treated for a brain tumour. By November, he was told he did not have much time left. The star eventually died on November 29, 2001, but just 17 days before, he was visited by the remaining members of The Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
The trio met at a hotel in Manhattan, New York City for lunch on this day, November 12, 2001.
The three friends were accompanied by Harrison’s wife, Olivia, as well as his doctor, Gil Lederman, and some other associates.
The three friends had not been together in many years, so this was a momentous occasion for Beatles fans – despite the grim circumstances.
Years later, McCartney recalled the meeting, saying: “I sat with him for a few hours when he was in treatment just outside New York.
“He was about 10 days away from his death, as I recall. We joked about things – just amusing, nutty stuff.”
McCartney continued: “It was good. It was like we were dreaming. He was my little baby brother, almost, because I’d known him that long.
“We held hands. It’s funny, even at the height of our friendship – as guys – you would never hold hands. It just wasn’t a Liverpool thing. But it was lovely.”
Doctor Lederman also revealed: “There were some tears – but there was more laughter than anything else.”
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Lederman continued: “It was a spirited affair, not a sombre one. There were lots of laughs and lots of fun. They spent hours reminiscing.”
The reality of Harrison’s inevitable death, of course, weighed heavy on the band as well.
Eventually, it became too much for Starr and McCartney.
The doctor went on: “There were tears, but George remained very much the man of dignity.”
Lederman said: “At the end, after both Paul and Ringo had left, [George] was fine and calm. He was a very happy man. This meeting meant so much to him.”
A friend of Harrison later reportedly added: “George was clearly picked up by the afternoon. He was smiling, happy and seemed so delighted to see his friends.
“Deep down he knew this was their last moments together and realised just what a great life they had together. Of course there were tears, but that was during the goodbyes.”
In Harrison’s final weeks Starr visited him again, but this time alone. He later recalled Harrison’s final words to him were an unexpected joke.
Starr revealed: “The last weeks of George’s life, he was in Switzerland, and I went to see him, and he was very ill, you know, he could only lay down.”
“And while he was being ill and I’d come to see him, I was going to Boston, cos my daughter had a brain tumour.
“And I said: ‘Well, you know, I’ve got to go, I’ve got to go to Boston.'”
Wiping tears from his face, he went on: “And he was – phew, it’s the last words I heard him say, actually – and he said: ‘Do you want me to come with you?'”
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