Pine tree dedicated to Beatle is laid low — by beetles

Posted at 10:58 AM, Jul 23, 2014

Los Angeles (CNN) — A tree dedicated to the memory of Beatle George Harrison, whose solo career included the hit “What is Life,” has met a grisly end to its life from the jaws of voracious bark beetles.

A pine stump now lies a few feet from a plaque dedicated to Harrison at the foot of a hiking trail in Los Angeles’s Griffith Park.

City officials say the 12-foot-tall pine had to be cut down June 18, to spare nearby trees from the spread of infestation by bark beetles.

“But we are going to replant a new George Harrison tree in November,” said L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge, a local politician well known for his undying optimism and ceaseless attendance of civic events. “We’re going to wait until after the summer when the weather cools off again.”

The original Japanese black pine tree was planted in 2003 near the Griffith Park Observatory and dedicated in 2004.

“He meant a lot to me, George was my favorite Beatle,” LaBonge reflected.

“I saw him at (nearby) Dodger Stadium in 1966. George just did so much for so many people. I think he was the first rocker ever to stage a fund-raising event, the Concert for Bangladesh.”

Near the tree stump, a plaque reads “In memory of a great humanitarian who touched the world as an artist, a musician and gardener.”

Below that it reads, “For the forest to be green, each tree must be green,” a quote attributed to Harrison.

Harrison, often called the quiet Beatle, died of lung cancer in 2001 in Beverly Hills.

In a photo that LaBonge says he took five or six years ago to mark an anniversary of Harrison’s passing, the mature tree is ringed by family friends.

The picture includes Harrison’s widow Olivia, Eric Idle of Monty Python fame and Jeff Lynne, the Electric Light Orchestra frontman who played with Harrison in The Travelling Wilburys.

Beatles songs written by Harrison include “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Something.”

The virtuoso guitar player’s signature riffs and solos helped propel the Beatles to greatness and his experimentation with Eastern Indian music could be heard with his sitar work on “Norwegian Wood.”

Now, in a city park where there was once a specific wood — a George Harrison tree — there’s a stump.

But LaBonge, borrowing from a Harrison album title, vows “All Things Must Pass” including the lack of a George Harrison tree.

“When you plant a tree to memorialize someone, it’s a special thing.” LaBonge said. “And I promise you in November this will be special again when we dedicate the new tree.”