Maui residents fondlyNAHIKU, Maui >> Laying flowers near the entrance of George Harrison's estate in East Maui, neighbors Bradley Reid and his 8-year-old daughter, Maricel, said goodbye to the late former Beatle.
Neighbors and acquaintances
remember the former Beatle as
caring, friendly and private
By Gary Kubota and Lisa Asato
"I didn't know the man but I loved his music," Reid said. "The Beatles came, and they were talking a new language. They helped to educate my mind."
Throughout the state, people who knew him and those who just knew his music reacted to the news that "the quiet Beatle" had died of cancer Thursday in Los Angeles.
Longtime friend and restaurateur Bob Longhi said Harrison would often eat vegetarian meals at Longhi's restaurants in Lahaina and Wailea.
"He was a good guy. He was a very nice fellow (who) liked to have a good time," said Longhi, adding that Harrison dedicated the song "Soft Hearted Hana" to him in 1977.
"He was passionate about what he believed in.
"The last time I spent time with him, he spent all this time talking about how we're ruining the atmosphere," Longhi said of Harrison's visit to his Lahaina home three years ago. "He was very ecologically minded. He was sort of a one-horse pony. He could talk about the same thing for two, three hours."
Cynthia Allencastre, a Nahiku neighbor, said that when Harrison visited Maui, he was always friendly with workers on his estate.
"He'd like to meet them and see how they were doing," she said.
Allencastre's husband, Arnold, said Harrison visited his family during New Year's Eve.
"He used to stay till 1 o'clock. He played Hawaiian," he said.
Reid, owner of Nahiku Tropicals, said he moved from Orange County, Calif., to Maui to enjoy the surfing and the laid-back lifestyle in 1974 and thought "it was really cool" when he heard Harrison was purchasing land nearby in the early 1980s.
"I thought he must be in the right place and I must be in the right place," Reid said.
As visitors to Hawaii in 1964, Harrison and band mate John Lennon sought refuge from adoring fans in the home of advertising executive John McDermott.
"They were very quiet, very well mannered and easy to take care of," said McDermott, whose agency handled Sheraton hotels.
The family served them a barbecue steak dinner, he recalled.
McDermott had not hear from either since, but he remembered the five-hour encounter fondly.
"They posed for pictures with the kids, which made them the envy of St. Anthony's in Kailua," he said.
Entertainer promoter Shep Gordon of Maui said he first met Harrison about 30 years ago in London at the office of the manager of the Beatles.
Gordon said he had listened to the Beatles' since he was a student in New York and was excited about the music and lyrics.
"I thought it was great. I wasn't supposed to like it, so I liked it," he said. "They taught you about life."
Gordon said that as a member of the Beatles, Harrison helped introduce sitar player Ravi Shankar, Indian music and transcendental meditation to many people in the world.
Harrison, who touched generations with his music, guarded his privacy toward the end of his life, especially after the murder of Lennon by a deranged stalker.
But privacy did not come easy, even though his estate is not easily accessible by car and is located at the end of a dirt road that turns into rutted pools of mud during winter rains.
In 1999 a woman was convicted of entering Harrison's estate in Nahiku where she did her laundry, ate a pizza and drank a root beer.
Earlier this year, Harrison settled a beach access lawsuit with some neighbors to make sure no one could cross the estate.
Friends say Harrison enjoyed gardening on his 63-acre estate in Nahiku, where about 150 inches of rain falls each year.
"He had a passion for gardening," recalled Gordon.