Hundreds of Beatles fans' are flocking to an area in New York's Central Park called "Strawberry Fields" Friday, remembering George Harrison, the legendary group's lead guitarist, whose death was announced late Thursday.
One of the first visitors to Strawberry Fields was New York City Parks Commissioner Henry Stern. He was instrumental in naming the section of Central Park after the Beatles song in honor of John Lennon, who was murdered in front of his apartment building overlooking the park 21 years ago next week.
"I was saddened because he is a part of history," Mr. Stern said. "We were all kids together. We listened to their music. The death of John Lennon was a tragedy. This was expected, but still sad."
Despite public knowledge that Mr. Harrison was ill with cancer, a visitor from London also found the news upsetting. "I knew it was coming. But at the end of the day, we have the music. We have the records, and the records and the music will last forever. And, that is the really important thing. That is the thing that is really there, will always be there," he said.
George Harrison and the Beatles were the icons of a generation, rediscovered years later by their children. "They were the best, and George was one of my favorites. I play guitar. I feel like he was a brother. I really do. 'As my guitar gently weeps'," said another visitor to the memorial, quoting a George Harrison song.
The Beatles have remained so popular in New York that one local radio station dedicates part of every day to their music. Zack Martin, the show's producer, says George Harrison practically invented the idea of musicians gathering to fundraise for charities and disaster. "When you think of George Harrison and what he has meant to humanity, if you think one great thing any person can do for the rest of humanity is teach us how to live in love and peace, and he was a master at that," he said.
George Harrison's music was influenced by Indian music and meditation, and he was often called the "quiet Beatle." But like the other members of the band, he captured the hearts of New Yorkers when the Beatles made their triumphant first visit to the city in 1964.