Ringo Starr reveals George Harrison's final words to him was a bittersweet joke on his deathbed
27 January 2021, 14:02 | Updated: 25 September 2023, 12:28
Ringo Starr recalled the last ever words his great friend and fellow-Beatle George Harrison said to him in his final days at his home in Switzerland, before his death on November 30, 2001.
In footage taken from the Martin Scorsese documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World, Ringo Starr reveals what was said on his last visit to the Beatle star's home in Switzerland.
The Beatle had had surgery for throat cancer in 1998 and was treated for lung cancer and a brain tumor not long before his death in 2001.
Ringo Starr recalls going to see George shortly before travelling to Boston to see his daughter, who was suffering from a brain tumour.
"The last weeks of George's life, he was in Switzerland, and I went to see him, and he was very ill," Ringo explains, "you know, he could only lay down."
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"And while he was being ill and I'd come to see him, I was going to Boston, cos my daughter had a brain tumour."And I said, 'Well, you know, I've got to go, I've got to go to Boston' and he was... phew, it's the last words I heard him say," Ringo says, clearly moved at the memory.
"Actually... and he said, 'Do you want me to come with you?'"
"Oh, God," he adds, emotional at the telling of the story. "So, you know, that's the incredible side of George..."
George Harrison: Living in the Material World was released in 2011 and featured archival footage, home videos and in-depth interviews with people close to the star, including Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Phil Spector and Pattie Boyd.
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George Harrison's wife, Olivia, who collaborated on the film, said at its release she "almost don't want people to see it. It's like showing everybody into your most private place."
George was the Beatles' lead guitarist and wrote several of the band's best loved songs including 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' and 'Something'.
George Harrison's last words with Ringo Starr
The star died aged 58 from lung cancer on November 30, 2001.
He was in Los Angeles, where he had travelled to for his final days, and according to The New York Times, His wife, Olivia, and son, Dhani, 24, 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'. "
The video comes after Paul McCartney recently said in an interview on NPR's All Things Considered that he likes to communicate with George Harrison through a large coniferous tree the Beatle gave him before his death.
"George was very into horticulture, [he was] a really good gardener," Paul said. "He gave me [the] tree as a present. It's a big fir tree and it's by my gate."
"As I was leaving my house [on the morning of Dec. 18], I got out of the car close the gate and looked up at the tree and said, 'Hi, George,'" McCartney detailed. "There he is, growing strongly ... That takes me back to the time when I hitchhiked with him! [George and John Lennon still have] an ever-present presence."
McCartney continued: "It's lovely. He gave it to me, so I just planted it. But then, as the years go by, every time I look at it I go, 'That's the tree George gave me'. George has entered that tree for me. I hope he's happy with that."