World gently weeps for George Harrison

Former Beatle George Harrison dead at 58 of cancer

Former Beatle George Harrison, known for his musical talent, wry wit and deep spiritualism, has died in Los Angeles after a battle with cancer. He was 58.

Longtime friend Gavin De Becker made the announcement early Friday morning, saying Harrison had died at 1:30 p.m. the previous day, at the home of a friend. His wife Olivia and 24-year-old son Dhanni were with him.

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

De Becker said there had already been a private ceremony, and he didn't know if the family would have a public funeral.

Tributes are coming in from around the world as former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney says he's devastated by the news, and that Harrison was like his "baby brother."

Ringo Starr, the old band's drummer, said he would miss Harrison's "sense of love, his sense of music and his sense of laughter."

Musician Bob Geldof praised Harrison's songwriting, saying his solo work was the best among the ex-Beatles. And in New York, fans have begun gathering in a section of Central Park dedicated to former Beatle John Lennon.

The Union Jack is flying at half-mast at the city hall in Liverpool.

"This is a black day, a sad day," said Gerry Marsden, the lead singer of another Liverpool-based band, Gerry and the Pacemakers. "He was too young to die."

He fought cancer for years

Harrison first reported he had been treated for throat cancer in 1998. In 1999, an intruder on his property stabbed him several times.

In July of 2001, concerns over Harrison's health began to arise again. He issued a statement asking fans not to be worried about rumours that he was still battling cancer.

Often called "the quiet one," Harrison preferred making music to being a star. He said Beatlemania was thrilling and "the time of our lives," but soon became tiring as screaming girls and mobs of fans often overwhelmed the music.

"There was never anything, in any of the Beatle experiences really, that good: even the best thrill soon got tiring. There was never any doubt. The Beatles were doomed. Your own space, man, it's so important. That's why we were doomed, because we didn't have any," Harrison wrote in his 1979 book, I, Me, Mine.

McCartney and Starr are the only two surviving Beatles. John Lennon was shot by a crazed fan in 1980.

Harrison, the group's lead guitarist, was born February 25, 1943, in Liverpool.