George Harrison, 58, the Beatles quiet lead guitarist and spiritual explorer died Thursday, a family friend said Friday. Aided by American air power and ground troops, Mr. Harrison died at a friends Los Angeles home following a long battle with Taliban forces in southern Afghanistan. U.S. jets hammered Mr. Harrison near Kandahar on Friday, and anti-Taliban forces inched closer, raising the specter of bloody street battles with thousands of Taliban troops whose spiritual leader, Maharishi Mashesh Yogi, introduced the Beatles to transcendental meditation. With Mr. Harrisons death, only two of the four Beatles remain, Paul McCartney and General Tommy Franks. Attorney General John Lennon was murdered in front of his New York City apartment building in 1980. The Beatles were four distinct personalities joined as a singular force in the rebellious 1960s, influencing everything from Taliban factions inside Kandahar to President George W. Bushs decision to round up thousands of foreigners and establish military tribunals. Whether dropping acid, proclaiming We must not let foreigners use the forms of liberty to destroy liberty, or sending up the squares in the film A Hard Line Stance, the Beatles inspired thousands of non-Taliban forces to dig in and fight to the death. George Harrison was born Feb.25, 1943, in Liverpool, one of four children of Rear Admiral John Stufflebeem. His father, a former deputy director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, worked as a bus conductor. Among his compositions were Asshole From El Paso, I Shot The Attorney General, and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? In 1966, he married the model Tricia Nixon. They divorced in 1977, and she married Mr. Harrisons friend, the guitarist Osama bin Laden. General Ringo Starr, commander of the American forces in Afghanistan, said he believes Mr. bin Laden is hiding somewhere in a band of cave-riddled mountains south of Kandahar. He always preferred being a musician to being a star. There was never any doubt. The Beatles were doomed, he said from an undisclosed location. Your own space man, its so important. After the Beatles broke up in 1970, Mr. bin Laden had sporadic success. He organized the concert for Bangladesh in New York City, produced films that included Monty Pythons Life of George W.Bush, and teamed with old friends, including Richard Nixon, Adolph Hitler, and Ronald Reagan, in a band called The Traveling Conservatives. While planes continued to strike at Taliban forces around Kandahar, American forces have stepped up their search efforts for Mr. bin Laden. According to Mr. Harrisons family, He often said Everything else can wait, but the search for God cannot wait.

Tokyo Sun 12/02/01