Ex-Beatle Harrison Reported Battling Cancer Again

By | July 9, 2001 at 12:00 AM

Former Beatle George Harrison is reported to have received treatment at a Swiss cancer clinic – his third battle in the past few years against the disease.

Just over 18 months ago, the 58-year-old guitarist and singer survived a life-and-death struggle of a different kind, when a knife-wielding intruder stabbed him in the chest at his home near London.

The Swiss newspaper Sonntagszeitung reported on Sunday that Harrison had been treated for a brain tumor in a cancer hospital in Bellinzona in southern Switzerland.

Cancer specialist Franco Cavalli did not deny he was treating Harrison at the San Giovanni hospital but declined to give details, the paper said.

According to Sonntagszeitung, Harrison was in Bellinzona in the Italian-speaking south of Switzerland during May and June for radiotherapy.

Harrison had rented a house in Luino in Italy, a 40-minute drive from Bellinzona, during the cobalt radiation treatment.

Sonntagszeitung said it was not clear whether Harrison was still being treated in Bellinzona or had returned to his house in Hawaii.

British newspapers carried similar reports on Monday. “(Harrison) was here in May and June…But he is not a patient anymore,” the Mirror tabloid quoted a San Giovanni hospital spokesman as saying.

No one at Harrison’s record company in London was immediately available for comment on the report.

Earlier this year Harrison had a cancer-like sore removed from his lungs at the Mayo Clinic in the United States.


Harrison overcame throat cancer in 1998, which he blamed on smoking. He was given the all-clear after radiation therapy.

“I gave up cigarettes many years ago but had started again for a while and stopped in 1997,” he said at the time. “Luckily for me, they found that this nodule was more of a warning than anything else.”

The former Beatle was almost killed in the attack at his home near London in late 1999.

Only the actions of his wife Olivia, who struck the knife-wielding attacker over the head with a poker and table lamp, saved him.

Harrison was known as the “quiet Beatle” when he was the lead guitarist for the band during their heyday in the 1960s.

“I guess if you’ve got to be in a rock group it might as well be the Beatles,” he once quipped.

Harrison was rated as a major musician in his own right only after the break-up of the “Fab Four.”

The main claim to fame of the Beatles’ youngest member during their reign as the kings of pop music was his devotion to oriental mysticism. He persuaded the other Beatles to travel to India to sit at the feet of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

He learned to play the sitar, and incorporated the instrument into a number of their songs.

The reserved Liverpudlian lived for many years in the shadow of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and was liberated by the band’s break-up in 1970 – as one associate said, it was “like recovering from a six-year dose of constipation.”

He soon released a triple album “All Things Must Pass” which proved his worth as both a guitarist and song-writer, and enjoyed a worldwide smash hit with “My Sweet Lord.”

In the 1980s he produced films through his own company, HandMade Films, and joined Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty to found the popular Travelling Wilburys in the 1990s.

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