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A minute's silence - the perfect tribute to the Quiet Beatle; In the hearts of these people of Liverpool, the flame will always be there for George Harrison.

Byline: David Charters

THE bitter easterly wind cutting across the city was too strong for the candles and they flickered and died in thousands of hands, which had been curled like shields.

But, in the hearts of those people, the flame will always be there for George Harrison.

They had gathered on the sweeping plateau of St George's Hall, to say goodbye to the guitarist, whose music spoke of faith and love and the hope that after every long winter there would be the sun, again.

This was Liverpool, native city of the 58-year-old Beatle who died last Thursday.

And when the Lord Mayor, Gerry Scott, called for a minute's silence it was observed with reverence and affection for the man who had given others so much pleasure.

All that could be heard was a hum from the motors in the TV vans, relaying the scenes across the world.

Then, from the big speakers, sounded the unmistakeable guitar opening to My Sweet Lord. People began clapping, at first just a few but the mood spread and everyone joined in.

There were pensioners in head scarves and children on their fathers' shoulders. There were some tears, too, because it was a sombre moment for the city. Yet, it was not a morbid occasion.

George had expressed his trust in God many times during his illness.

Now he was moving on to another world.

So this Liverpool crowd, of 2,500, raised their arms to George, the quiet one, in thanks for what had been and to wish him well in the future.

Officiating over the ceremony was Billy Butler, the Radio Merseyside presenter, who knew the boys in their Cavern days.

Just before the silence, he introduced, Melissa Burgess, 10, Kieran Hughes, 11, Charlotte Callister, 10, and Jennifer Rannard, 11, who sang My Sweet Lord, accompanied on the keyboard by Kim Davies, their music teacher at Dovedale Primary School, which George attended when the family lived in Wavertree.

The children also planted an English oak tree in the peace garden behind St George's Hall, just a few yards from another one is growing in memory of John Lennon.

It could grow to 80 feet and live for hundreds of years.

Kieron said that his mum Judith "used to love George" and bought all his records. She had asked him to say a special prayer to him from her at the school assembly.

"I said that I hope George is happy in Heaven, "said Kieron.

Although the wind was keen, city council workers carried boxes with 5,000 candles to the scene. And the people kept coming right up to the start of the silence.

Afterwards, most of them filed past the mighty pillars to sign books of condolence in the grand hall.

They were laid on tables before the stage on which there was a single candle and a photograph of the young George, taken by the German photographer, Astrid Kircherr, who became the girlfriend of Stuart Sutcliffe, another Beatle who died too young.

A man in a fawn coat, who knew them all, sat with a pen in his hand.

"Dear George, All You Need Is Love, " he wrote. It was Allan Williams, first manager of the Beatles.

And When My Guitar Gently Weeps was playing in the hall.

George leaves millions to charity

GEORGE Harrison left the bulk of his almost pounds 200m fortune to his wife and son.

The ex-Beatle, who lost his battle with cancer last Thursday, left most of hs estate to Olivia, his wife, and his son Dhani.

But he gave up to 10 pc to the Hare Krishna faith he embraced in the late 1960s and which he donated cash and even a manor house to throughout his life.

Millions of pounds will be left to unnamed international and British-based charities, several of which aid children in poor African countries.

A family friend said: "George never led a flashy life. He believed in family, charity toward his fellow human beings and in achieving an inner piece. Those beliefs are certainly reflected in his will."

Harrison's assets included a series of properties around the world, with a home on Hamilton Island on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, and a huge and secluded ocean front estate on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

He also owned Friar Park, the pounds 20m 100room home in Henleyon-Thames where he was stabbed by a deranged intruder in December 1999.

The estate includes the rights to several songs, including his hit My Sweet Lord and the triple-album it was part of, All Things Must Pass, as well as the income from his part in producing films including Monty Python's Life of Brian.

And it received a boost in the last year, when the success of the Beatles' Greatest Hits compilation increased Harrison's net worth by up to 25 pc.

Sculptor's tribute

AMONG those remembering George last night was the distinguished figure of Tom Murphy the sculptor, whose hands have already given immortality to some of Liverpool's great men, including Bill Shankly, Dixie Dean, Captain Johnny Walker, John Lennon and John and Cecil Moores.

Tom feels a special affinity to George, though his own group, Catchpenny, trailed some way behind the Beatles in the popularity stakes. But they were big in the working men's clubs and British Legions, he recalled.

Now, as the city considers a fitting way to commemorate the former Beatle, Tom is beginning work on a statue.

He said: "I am trying to convey the idea of the man alone with his guitar. If you look at a group, everyone is leaping about except the lead guitarist, who is watching what he is doing because he is controlling the sound.

"People haven't really brought out George's massive contribution to the Beatles' sound.

"George's face is extremely interesting because it is heart-shaped with high cheekbones and sunken cheeks.

"But his cheeks sink because of the structure of his face, not because he was thin. Of all the Beatles, he suited the hair-style best.

"Even later, he only slightly modified the Beatles' hairstyle.

"But he was a lonely figure because his real emphasis was on the music and not showbiz."

The last pilgrimage

GEORGE Harrison, a devotee of Hinduism, was due to make his final return to India tonight.

His family planned to sprinkle his ashes in the holy Ganges River, said officials of the Hare Krishna movement.

His widow Olivia and son Dhani, 23, were to begin the Hindu rites at the Baluaghat Krishna temple in Allahabad and then walk six miles to where three holy rivers converged, said temple head Subigra Das.

Olivia and Dhani were to be accompanied by two Hare Krishna devotees who performed Hindu rites on Harrison's ashes with the family in London, said Maha Mantra Das, a New Delhi spokesman for the International Society of Krishna Consciousness.

The society said that its representatives in London had been in contact with Harrison's family.

The family would not discuss any details or confirm any aspect of the reports, spokesman Gavin de Becker said in Los Angeles.

The 58-year-old Beatle died of cancer in Los Angeles last Thursday and was cremated hours after his death.

In a tradition dating back more than 3,500 years, Hindus are cremated on riversides and their ashes immersed in holy waters.

Hindus believe this ritual releases the soul from the body for its heavenward journey, and frees it from the cycle of reincarnation.

"It is a great loss to us, " said Vrijendra Nandan, a spokesman for the New Delhi chapter of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness. "When he was leaving his body, our devotees were chanting songs of Krishna by his bedside. We give him all the credit for spreading our thoughts in Europe and the USA."

Arijit Das, another spokesman for the Hare Krishnas, said the Harrisons were expected to arrive in the northern city of Varanasi tonight to scatter some of Harrison's ashes in the Ganges.

He said an urn would be kept at the Krishna temple for the public to offer their last respects before the ashes were immersed in the Ganges River at the Dashaswamedh ritual bathing area.

Hare Krishna officials said the ashes would also be sprinkled off Alahabad, where the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers converge - and according to Hindu tradition are joined by a third holy river, the mythical Saraswati.

Subigra Das, the head of the Baluaghat Krishna temple in Allahabad, said: "We will take out a procession and the rituals will be completed in Sangam."Sangam is the confluence of the three rivers.

CAPTION(S):

TEARFUL: A fan lets the tears flow at last night's vigil TIME TO REMEMBER: Fans wait to sign a book of remembrance inside St George's Hall LEADING WAY: Dovedale pupils FAN: Tom Murphy with a sketch of George FIRST MANAGER: Alan Williams remembers
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 4, 2001
Words:1473
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