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Fans In New York and London React to Loss of Harrison

Aired November 30, 2001 - 14:03   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: And now, we begin with news that affected many people this morning, the death of another Beatle. George Harrison was the lead guitarist for the fabulous four, and today, many of his fans in the New York area are heading for Strawberry Fields, in Central Park. CNN's Michael Okwu is also there. Hello, again, Michael.

MICHAEL OKWU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, good afternoon to you. I can tell you that earlier this morning, Strawberry Fields was very much a place where people where mourning the death of George Harrison, more than anything else. And as the afternoon has grown and evolved, more musicians have shown up here, as you can see, and they are all, at this point, really more than anything else, celebrating the life of George Harrison, rather than mourning the death of George Harrison. So many of the people that we have talked to this afternoon have told us that not only were they fans of George Harrison, but they felt really more as if they were friends of George Harrison, and I think, Judy, that that speaks a little bit to the -- to the accessibility of this particular Beatle, whom so many people knew as the Quiet Beatle. I wanted to get some reaction from some of the people that we were talking to today. What's your name?

KAREN BARBARA: Hi, I'm Karen Barbara.

OKWU: Your name, again, is Karen --

BARBARA: Karen, Karen Barbara. I'm the daughter of Chief Barbara the city commander of Tower Two.

OKWU: Oh, so your -- your father was in the World Trade Center.

BARBARA: Yes. My father was city-wide tour (ph) commander for the FDNY, but I'm here today because I know he would be here. George was his favorite Beatle. And on every family vacation we had to listen to the Beatles in the car. In fact, in his car they still -- they still have the CD playing, and it's still George Harrison.

OKWU: Why did he like George Harrison so much?

George was humble like my father. He contributed an awful lot to their -- his different fields, like my dad did, and he liked the guitar. He liked to hear George sing.

OKWU: So, you're here in tribute to your father and to George Harrison as well.

BARBARA: Yes, actually, would you like to see my dad?

OKWU: Sure.

BARBARA: This is my dad. Chief Jerry Barbara and I'm here for him.

OKWU: Thanks so much for talking to us.

BARBARA: Thank you very much.

OKWU: Take care.

BARBARA: Have a good day.

OKWU: Miss, what's your name?

SHELLEY JOY: Shelley joy.

OKWU: Okay, you're talking live on CNN.

JOY: Okay.

OKWU: Tell us why you're here today. I've seen you singing quite a bit.

JOY: To honor George Harrison. He was a gentle person, a God- loving soul. He gave his heart, and he uplifted generations for being a part of the Beatles and at the same time it honors -- John Lennon, and we need restoration. We need to lift up our hearts and souls and send out love. And it's very sad that he passed, but we have this great music here in New York City that you're hearing, and hopefully the whole world will see that there's also joy and celebration, even though we lost a great Beatle and that's why I'm here, and I hope everybody cherishes this moment and keeps the love and kindness and sweetness and peace and open up and looked inside themselves, the creative abilities whether it be business, music, dance, song, anything. And that's why.

OKWU: Okay, thanks so much.

JOY: Okay.

OKWU: Really appreciate your time.

JOY: Okay, bye bye.

OKWU: Sir, hi. Michael Okwu, CNN. How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you, sir?

OKWU: You're talking live on CNN. Why are you here today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, jeez. I've been a big Beatle fan for the longest time. I -- I heard the news in -- in the middle of the night last night while I was at work. And even though I heard about George Harrison having problems with cancer, and everything, I didn't really think it was going to get the best of him so suddenly. It was -- it came as a big surprise to me. You know, and it was really something. And a very big disappointment, you know, but it's nice to know that there's at least some of them left.

OKWU: I really -- you know, so many people say that George Harrison was the "other Beatle." What would you have to say about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don't know about being the other Beatle. I've always know him as -- more as being the quiet Beatle more than anything else, you know. You know, like everybody had their own opinions and their own little things to say, for each other and about each other.

OKWU: Okay, thank you so much. I appreciate your time.


OKWU: We want to give you shots here. Close out with shots of some of the musicians who have come down here to play in front of hundreds of fans this afternoon. And, again, Judy, I have to tell you, this is more like a celebration of George Harrison's life, at this point, rather than the mourning. Judy.

WOODRUFF: And Michael, that's entirely appropriate, isn't it, that we would be celebrating his life, and I can't help but comment on the range of ages there. I know I was a Beatle fan -- am a Beatle fan, and it's wonderful to see people from the baby boomers on down celebrating. In particular that young woman whose father died in the World Trade Center. She said they still have that CD, the Beatles CD, they play.

Thank you, Michael.

Spontaneous tribute to George Harrison, there, in Central Park. Thank you, Michael. Although they had their share of battles professionally, Harrison and fellow Beatle Paul McCartney were always friends, a relationship cemented, we're told, in their early days in Liverpool. Just a short time ago, McCartney talked about his friend, and the last time they were together.


PAUL MCCARTNEY, FORMER BEATLE: I'm devastated, obviously, like everyone else. He had a long battle with his cancer, but I saw him few weeks ago, and he was full of fun like he always was. He's such a brave lad. To me, he's just my little baby brother. We grew up together, and I knew him in my old hometown, Liverpool. And we just had so many beautiful times together. That's what I'm going to remember him by. A lovely guy who is full of humor, as I say, even when I saw him last time and he was obviously very unwell. He was still cracking jokes, like he always was. And he will be sorely missed. He's a beautiful man, and the world will miss him.


WOODRUFF: Paul McCartney remembering his very dear friend and fellow Beatle George Harrison. What he said is so clear. At a place in London, Abbey Road. Now, this is outside the studio where Harrison and his band mates cut the soundtrack of a generation. It's also where we find CNN's Richard Quest. Hello, again, Richard.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Judy from North London, from Abbey Road, a street that's in the middle of the rush hour that become famous, of course, in the 1960's. And this has to be the most famous pedestrian crossing in the world. It is, of course, the crossing where the Beatles made their album "Abbey Road." It was the last album that they actually made, back in 1968. The significance of this area, and the name Abbey Road, the very name itself comes from the studios. The pedestrian crossing is just up here. And here are the Abbey Road studios, and it was here that they recorded all their albums through the eight years that they were together. All day people have been coming to Abbey Road to pay their respects and to pay tribute to George Harrison. And to leave messages and notices along with many flowers and things like that.

The sort of messages that we have been seeing. "Many thanks to George Harrison for the music that you made."

Over here, "George Harrison, all things must pass."

"To George, something in the way you moved us. Thank you."

The music that you are hearing, this one, of course, is "My Sweet Lord," written by Harrison after the Beatles in 1970 has been played by the managers here at Abbey Road, and they've been lighting candles in tribute all throughout the day. Fans have also been gathering along with experts in the music industry. Steve, now, joins me from Mojo Magazine. Steve Pafford. Steve, why did you feel it was important to come along here this evening?

STEVE PAFFORD, MOJO RECORDS: One, I wanted to pay my respects as one quarter of the Beatles, the world's most popular group, and obviously, they were British and incredibly important. Secondly, just as a human being, he was obviously a very important person, very spiritual, very dignified person. That did a lot of good. Not only in the music business, but in film as well.

QUEST: Let me ask you. I mean, the extraordinary thing that we have seen here today is young people coming here. I mean, you and I -- I mean, I'm a Liverpudlian (ph). I was born and brought up in Liverpool. I love the Beatles. But many people here weren't even around -- weren't even born, weren't even thought of when they first started.

PAFFORD: Yeah, that's interesting. A lot of people today are in their 20's that have come to pay their respects, and I think that it's just part of British tradition that you have to love the Beatles. They're as English as, you know, eating fish and chips and watching Wimbledon. And, also, Oasis have repopularized the Beatles music in the last few years. QUEST: Steve, many thanks indeed. Some of the thoughts here outside Abbey Road. It really is, Judy, an extraordinary sort of atmosphere. People may have been -- the rush hour is now coming to an end. So, there are aren't that many people here, although they are on the other side of the street. The press and media seem to take this side. But still, flowers, tributes, from all ages are being received here. Judy.

WOODRUFF: Richard Quest at Abbey Road in London. We saw Richard walk across that crosswalk where the Beatles themselves where. Richard, thank you very much for helping us -- helping bring us to a better understanding of just how appreciated the Beatles are in their home country.

And former Beatles producer George Martin is also remembering George Harrison today. Here's how he reacted to the news of George Harrison's death.

GEORGE MARTIN: It's an awful shock, today. Because -- I mean, we've known it's been coming for a long while. So, it still doesn't prepare you for the day when it actually happens. George is a wonderful man, and a -- fine musician. But most importantly, I think he was a very loving person. Full of humor, and I don't think he really wanted to be a famous person. I think he -- he wanted to do his own stuff by himself. And his -- fortunately, he had Olivia and Dhani. He had a wonderful family. My thoughts are with them right now.

WOODRUFF: Remembering George Harrison, who died last night in Los Angeles of cancer.




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