The Beatles' final meeting with George Harrison just weeks before his death was beautiful

3 November 2023, 09:39

George Harrison passed away in 2001
George Harrison passed away in 2001. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Tom Eames

George Harrison died over 20 years ago, and just before he lost his battle with cancer, he had one final meeting with his former Beatles bandmates, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

George Harrison announced in July 2001 that he was being treated for a brain tumour.

By November that year, he was told by doctors that he did not have long to live. The Beatles singer died on November 29, 2001.

Just 17 days before, George was visited by the surviving members of The Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

The trio met at a hotel in Manhattan, New York City, for lunch on November 12, 2001. They were joined by George's wife, Olivia, and his doctor, Gil Lederman, and other associates.

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The three friends had not met up for several years, making this a special moment for Beatles fans.

Years later, Paul McCartney spoke about the meeting, telling Uncut: "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.

"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 said: "There were some tears - but there was more laughter than anything else."

"It was a spirited affair, not a sombre one. There were lots of laughs and lots of fun. They spent hours reminiscing."

The doctor added: "There were tears, but George remained very much the man of dignity.

George Harrison in 1976
George Harrison in 1976. Picture: Getty

"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."

In George's final days, Ringo visited him once again, but this time on his own. He later spoke about Harrison's final words to him, which were a surprising joke.

"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, because my daughter had a brain tumour.

George Harrison's last words with Ringo Starr

"And I said: 'Well, you know, I've got to go, I've got to go to Boston.' It's the last words I heard him say, actually - and he said: 'Do you want me to come with you?'"

George's wife, Olivia, and son, Dhani, were with him when he died at the home of Gavin De Becker, a longtime friend.

"He left this world as he lived in it, conscious of God, fearless of death, and at peace, surrounded by family and friends," the Harrison family said in a statement. "He often said, 'Everything else can wait but the search for God cannot wait,' and `love one another'."