When the news arrived that ex-Beatle George Harrison was near death based on quotes allegedly uttered by the Fab Four's long-time producer, George Martin, aka "the Fifth Beatle" the story was easy to disbelieve.
These particular music makers have been in the public and media eye forever, to a degree that no one else on the planet will ever be unfortunate enough to experience. They simply do not go to the press and reveal life-and-death secrets about each other.
So it came as no surprise when Martin vehemently denied making statements such as "(George) knows he is going to die soon and he's accepting it perfectly happily." Or when the singer-guitarist himself said he was "disappointed and disgusted" by the rumors of his impending demise.
So, if Martin and Harrison are telling the truth and it's hard to imagine that they aren't, since Harrison has been remarkably candid about his ongoing battles with cancer what we've got here is just another non-story about the Beatles, who have had more non-stories written about them over the past (gasp!) 35 years than anyone else in the rock-and-roll firmament.
The curious thing is that even non-stories about the Beatles can drop you in your tracks if you're of a particular age and background. For example, if you happen to be, oh, a 51-year-old former San Francisco hippie who continues to listen to portions of his complete collection of Beatles albums every single day, the unhappiest entertainment-beat story imaginable would be the death of another Beatle another nail in the coffin of hope that someday, maybe, John will be cloned back to his 1960's perfection and everyone's favorite quartet of moptops will cease to let it be and return to the recording studio one more time.
My very personal reaction to the George-is-almost-dead fiction was not that I didn't want "the quiet Beatle" to expire this week. The fact is, I don't want him or Paul or Ringo to ever die.
In high school, you see, we used to say "Beatles forever." We weren't kidding.