How Did George Harrison Die? The Details Behind the Beatle Member’s Sad Death

how did george harrison die images of george harrison in a magazine
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Oh, the Beatles. You can’t mention one of them without naming the others. There is, of course, lead singers John Lennon and Paul McCartney, who also played rhythm guitar, drummer Ringo Starr, and lead guitarist George Harrison. While a reunion was out of the question after the death of John Lennon, the world remained extremely interested in what the surviving members of the “Hey Jude” singers were up to and how they kept going.

With a series of health struggles and even personal tragic events that seemingly related to his final end, the world was soon down one more Beatle as the 21st century was just getting started. Thinking about it, it seems crazy that 21 years have gone by since he passed away.

How did George Harrison die? Find out that and more about the circumstances surrounding George Harrison’s cause of death below.

a stamp showing the four beatles members when they were young
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How Did George Harrison Die?

George Harrison’s cause of death was non-small cell lung cancer that had spread to his brain, which he began treatments for, including chemotherapy, in November 2001. But, through the years, he actually faced several cancer types.

While he was receiving radiotherapy at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City, the news went public because of a breach of privacy by the treating physician. Later, George Harrison’s estate sought damages for the act.

What caused George Harrison’s cancer? As it is with most lung cancer patients, Harrison’s many years of heavy smoking is what most likely led to the “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” musician’s battle with the harmful disease. However, there are some other theories.

On December 30, 1999, Harrison, along with his wife, were the victims of a home invasion. That night, a 34-year-old paranoid schizophrenic named Michael Abram attacked Harrison with a kitchen knife, puncturing his lung and causing several head injuries. It was only after several blows that Olivia Harrison was able to stop the assailant with a lamp and a fireplace poker.

Following the attack, Harrison spent several days in the hospital as he was treated for over 40 stab wounds and even underwent surgery to remove a part of the punctured lung.

Later, Harrison’s family, while downplaying the injuries sustained in the invasion, did say that his health declined after the attack. That led to thoughts that it was part of the reason for the return of his cancer, as he was first diagnosed with cancer of the throat in May 1997.  

In fact, in May 2001, he underwent surgery to remove a malignant growth on his lung, and two months later, he was being treated for a brain tumor in Switzerland.

Related: 15 Interesting Facts About The Beatles Members

When Did George Harrison Know He Was Dying?

With all of the health struggles in the last few years of his life, we’re venturing to guess that the lead guitarist for most of the Beatles songs had been thinking about his own mortality for a while. In fact, his religious beliefs had him thinking about it for decades.

It seems he knew he would be deceased soon as things got more dire. In the early days of November, he was reportedly told by physicians that he would not have much longer to live, effectively lowering his survival rate.

When Did George Harrison Die?

George Harrison’s death sadly came on November 29, 2001, in Los Angeles, California.

He was survived by his wife and son. He was also survived by two of his three Beatles bandmates, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

Related: Paul McCartney Biography

an old image of the beatles
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How Old Was George Harrison When He Died?

George Harrison was only 58 years old when he passed away.

Where is George Harrison Buried?

Prior to George Harrison’s funeral, the “My Sweet Lord” singer was cremated, and instead of being buried, his ashes were scattered in the Yamuna and Ganges rivers in India. This was done in a private ceremony with just his close family. The cremation happened at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where there is a grave marker in his honor.

George Harrison’s funeral, which was held in the days following his death, was held in Pacific Palisades, California, at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine.

Who Inherited George Harrison’s Money?

At the time of George Harrison’s death, he was worth a whopping $400 million. According to George Harrison’s will, one hundred million pounds, approximately $127 million in U.S. dollars, was to be inherited by his wife and son, Dhani Harrison.

Additionally, his wife, Olivia, was appointed as executor of George Harrison’s estate.

When the details of George Harrison’s will were released a year after the “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” singer’s death, his wife made the following statement. “George dedicated a lot of his life to obtain a good ending, and I don’t have any doubt that he was successful.” George Harrison’s estate remains under the care of Olivia to this day.

Related: New Beatles Song in 2023 Will Be Their Last

the beatles on TV
Photo of The Beatles with Ed Sullivan from their first appearance on Sullivan’s US variety television program in February 1964. From left: Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Ed Sullivan, John Lennon, Paul McCartney. Image is in the Public Domain.

What Were George Harrison’s Last Words?

George Harrison’s final words are heartbreaking yet hopeful all rolled into one. As his family and friends surrounded his deathbed, he reportedly told them, “Everything else can wait, but the search for God cannot wait and love one another.”

Then, turning to his wife, he simply said, “Olivia, you’ll be fine, you’ll be fine.”

What Did Paul McCartney Say When George Harrison Died?

Naturally, Harrison’s Beatle bandmates, who had been friends with him since they were teenagers, were heartbroken by the loss.

“[I am devasted]. I’ve known he’s been ill for a long time,” Paul McCartney said after his death. “I’ve spoken to Olivia, and she has been very strong, and I’d ask people to be kind to her.”

He remembered Harrison as “a lovely man, I love him dearly, I grew up with him, and I like to remember all the good times. [George was a] fantastic guy with a great sense of humor. I was lucky enough to see him a couple of weeks ago, and he was still laughing and joking.”

Related: 10 Best Beatles Songs, 1963-1965

Did George and Paul Ever Reconcile?

Before we answer that, let’s first discuss what led to the friction between the two. The reality is that the hardships between the two long-time friends were simple things that can happen. The first hint of struggles between the two came during a radio interview with BBC in 1974, during which Harrison said, “[McCartney] ruined me as a guitar player.” He later added, “I just know that whatever we’ve been through, there’s always been something that’s tied us together.”

It must be said, though, that the relationship between all four Beatles was especially rocky at this time. Except with Ringo, who the other three almost always got along with.

After John Lennon was murdered, while many wanted a Beatles reunion in which the three, including Ringo Starr, reunited following the breakup, it was reportedly Harrison and McCartney’s personal relationship that was at least part of the reason that it was kept from happening. Allegedly, they both made it clear that they often got under each other’s skin.

“Even to the end of George’s days, theirs was a volatile relationship,” a friend later said. Harrison always remained kind about it, though. The “Here Comes the Sun” singer proved that when he replied to an online February 2001 Yahoo! Chat question about whether McCartney “pisses you off.” “Scan not a friend with a microscopic glass — You know his faults – Then let his foibles pass. Old Victorian Proverb. I’m sure there’s enough about me that pisses him off, but I think we have now grown old enough to realize that we’re both pretty damn cute!”

So, what does it all come down to? Did George and Paul ever reconcile? Yes. They were able to put aside their differences and remained on friendly terms until George Harrison’s death.

Related: How Did John Lennon Die?

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Why Did George Harrison Die at Paul McCartney’s House?

Proof that George Harrison and Paul McCartney reconciled is that Harrison actually died in a property belonging to McCartney. It was not, however, McCartney’s personal home, as many speculated.


It’s true. The “Big C” doesn’t discriminate, no matter how famous, how beloved, how talented you are, and we have it to blame for depriving the world of the incredible talent that is George Harrison too soon.

Like every Beatles member, however, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee’s legacy will forever live on. Since the “What is Life?” musician’s death, many Beatles fans have continued to pay tribute to the late member of the Fab Four. Additionally, fellow artists have also paid tribute to Harrison over the years, mainly with tribute performances from the Beatles anthology of songs, but also with works of art and statues all around the world.

Then, there is the posthumous honor during the February 2015 Grammy Awards ceremony, where Harrison was given The Recording Academy’s Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

With the numerous accolades that are still being bestowed upon him, all we can hope is that Harrison is resting in peace and love because no one deserves it more.

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Written by Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth in 2015. She has worked in journalism since 2015, beginning as production assistant and eventual head staff writer of the Fort Leavenworth Lamp newspaper in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Currently, she is a multimedia journalist with the Diocese of Nashville's Office of Media and Evangelization where she writes, does photography, and edits for several types of content, including the Tennessee Register, Catholic Awakenings, and She has also worked as a freelance journalist with the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas's newspaper, The Leaven, since 2016.
In her spare time, Peterson enjoys reading, spending time with her pup, Sadie Lynn, singing and songwriting.


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