Exact wording of the story provided by James Desborough of WENN to The Mail on Sunday - on Friday July 20th 2001

Ex-BEATLES guitarist GEORGE HARRISON is perilously near to death - according to his close friend and former producer SIR GEORGE MARTIN.

The MY SWEET LORD hitmaker has been blighted by a succession of illnesses over the last two years.

Currently suffering from throat and lung cancer, 57-year-old Harrison recently had radiotherapy for a brain tumour. But he still hasn't fully recovered after being stabbed by an intruder in his mansion 18 months ago.

Veteran producer Sir George last saw George Harrison at his Tuscany home back in May, just after he had surgery in Minnesota to remove a cancerous growth from his lung.

And apparently, George isn't in good shape. "He's just hanging on in there at the moment," says Martin. "He knows that he is going to die soon, and he's accepting it perfectly happily." However, Martin is optimistic that the Fab Four guitarist will not suffer too much. "He does have an indomitable spirit," adds the 75-year old producer.

"George is very philosophical," he says. "He does realise that everybody's got to die sometime." George Harrison was treated for throat cancer in 1997 after a lump was found in his throat. He had surgery and two courses of radiation therapy in London and blamed smoking for his illness.

In May this year, he had surgery in Minnesota to remove a cancerous growth from his lung. The operation was considered successful and he went to Tuscany to recover with his wife. His latest bout of ill health came after he was stabbed 10 times by an intruder at his Oxfordshire mansion in December 1999 - and suffered a punctured lung.

"George has been near death so many times and he's been rescued many times as well," says George Martin. "And I guess he's hoping that he will be rescued again." In June Harrison urged fans not to worry after his latest operation - but he could be downplaying the seriousness of the condition, according to Martin.

"The poor man has had a rough time," he says. "He's abroad at the moment, taking it easy and hoping that the thing will go away. And I'm hoping and praying that it will go away as well..."


2001 WENN