Beatles guitarist succumbs to throat cancer...

Former Beatles GEORGE HARRISON has died at the age of 58 in LOS ANGELES.

The lead guitarist and songwriter with the world’s most famous band lost his battle against cancer, and died at 9.30pm last night (November 29). Harrison was at a friend’s home with his wife Olivia and son Dhani, 24, at his side.

A statement issued by his family reads: &quotHe left this world as he lived in it, conscious of God, fearless of death, and at peace, surrounded by family and friends. He often said, ‘Everything else can wait but the search for God cannot wait, and love one another.'”

Among the first to pay tribute were Sir Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono.

&quotI am devastated and very very sad,” said McCartney. &quotWe knew he’d been ill for a long time. He was a lovely guy and a very brave man and had a wonderful sense of humour. He is really just my baby brother.”

Speaking from outside his London home, McCartney added: &quotI remember all the beautiful times we had together and I’d like to remember him like that, because I know he would like to be remembered like that. He’ll be sorely missed by everyone.”

A scheduled appearance by McCartney at this evening’s ‘Top Of The Pops’ awards in Manchester has now been pulled.

Yoko Ono, wife of late Beatles John Lennon said: “George has given so much to us in his lifetime and continues to do so even after his passing, with his music, his wit and his wisdom. His life was magical and we all felt we had shared a little bit of it by knowing him. Thank you George, it was grand knowing you.”

In Harrison’s native Liverpool flags are being flown at half-mast as a mark of respect and condolence books have been opened across the city for fans. NME.COM has also opened a tribute messageboard.

While not as prolific as John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Harrison became a respected songwriter as Beatles sound became more experimental.

As well as writing material which featured on their ‘Rubber Soul’, ‘Revolver’ and Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ albums, his contributions to the ‘White Album’, notably ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, and ‘Abbey Road’ – ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and ‘Something’ put him on a creative level with his bandmates.

As a solo artist Harrison was the first ex-Beatles to score a UK Number One single in 1971 with ‘My Sweet Lord’. He returned to the UK top 5 in 1987 with the single ‘Got My Mind Set On You’. The last known Harrison song titled ‘A Horse To Water’ features on the new Jools Holland album ‘Small World Big Band’.