I wasn't a big Beatle fan at the time either. I had read lots about the group after the Anthology series came out, and I got the videos and a few books. George was far and away my favorite member based on that initial viewing, and everything I read about him subsequently only reinforced that this was the Beatle who resonated most for me personally.
The weird bit was that I was flying to Spain 2 days after his death. We had planned a 2-day stopover in London, and I had two things on my list: see Baker Street and see Abbey Road studios. What I really wanted to do was see George's house, but that seemed too much like stalking to me, so I just decided to see what I could when I was in town. Besides, if I went to his house, I knew I'd be hoping for a glimpse of him. See what a rotten fan I was? I didn't even know he was ill, and not in the country at the time.
Anyway, I believe I found out the news the day before I got on the plane. I felt very sad, but this raised an Abbey Road visit to extremely high priority. My brother-in-law and I went that first night. The people at Abbey Road paint the wall around their property white, so fans can scribble on it. The wall was covered with tributes to George, flowers, candles, pictures, poems, on and on, all the way down the sidewalk. I walked along very slowly reading and viewing the messages. I took some pictures, which I'll have to find again.
It was very solemn, but also uplifting. I could just feel the love. I still can, when I come to forums like this. We are so lucky-- all of us in the world. Of all the people to be raised to this frenzied idolized status, it happened to be four very level-headed down-to-Earth men who were determined not to let success go to their heads. They honestly did try to do the right thing, in their personal lives, in their business affairs, certainly in their music. They could have become such monsters, but instead they held true to their course and tried to maintain their personal integrity. I think that's why they are still loved today. People recognize and respond to that goodness, both in their music and in their persons. I am very grateful for who they were and what they gave us.
One more note about George. I was reading in I, Me, Mine his write-up about how the holiest gurus can pick the time they will give up their bodies, and that this voluntary removal--accepting and embracing death when it comes-- is one of the most advanced spiritual states you can get, to avoid rebirth and having to work through your mistakes all over again. I'm relieved that George got to go mindfully; he knew it was coming, he was prepared, he was very peaceful. I think it was a state of grace for him to die in his preferred way; he had certainly earned it. Bless you, George, wherever you are.