It was a sad day for everyone when the news broke of George Harrison’s passing aged only 58. Despite a long battle with cancer, the end was an emotional blow barely cushioned by the forewarning of his long-battled illness. The Beatles had become such an integral part of pop culture that losing a member in this way felt like losing a part of the family. But Harrison was also a special case.
He brightened fans lives, many of whom had grown up alongside the artists, through his music and sanguine philosophy that he imparted on the world. Harrison, above all else, was a people person, and he gave new life to the rock star tropes of old.
While Harrison may have felt like a part of the extended music family, his loss was felt most of all by those closest to him. For those who knew him best, the emotional impact no doubt resonated even greater, which is what makes Paul McCartney’s graceful reaction to the press-intrusion below all the nobler.
Admittedly, it was not the sort of tabloid swarming that deserves the utmost condemnation, but the fact that crews were waiting outside of McCartney’s Sussex estate to capture his reaction, which still sits uncomfortably, at a time when people need distance and time the most.
As ever Paul was calm, collected and sincere in his approach, describing the news as “very sad.” He went on to say “[I am devastated] I’ve known he’s been ill for a long time,” before adding, “I’ve spoken to Olivia [Harrison] and she has been very strong, and I’d ask people to be kind to her.”
When asked about his friendship with George he had some very touching words to say describing the ‘quiet Beatle’, who “didn’t suffer fools gladly,” describing him as “a lovely man, I love him dearly, I grew up with him and I like to remember all the good times.”
Later adding, “[He was a] fantastic guy, with a great sense of humour. I was lucky enough to see him a couple of weeks ago, and he was still laughing and joking.” The duo had experienced some difficulties throughout their careers, so it is some consolation that those moments appeared to be behind them before Harrison’s passing.
Having struggled with debilitating lung cancer and the effects of having survived a knife attack by a fan who broke into his home two years prior to his death, McCartney explained that the passing for those closest to him was “A blessed release,” adding, “George had been through a lot of problems recently.”
The final semblance of solace that Paul imparted for grieving fans via his statement was to assure people that “he went peacefully.”
You can view Paul’s touching tribute to his friend, given under difficult circumstances below.