As I was checking my e-mail Friday, my eyes grazed across this headline on MSN: “George Harrison dies at 58.” “Not THE George Harrison” I thought. “It must be another person with the same name as the former Beatle.”

I clicked the link to see if I was mistaken, and to my dismay, I learned it was, in fact,THE George Harrison.

As I tried to absorb the information, I said sadly “Only two more Beatles left.”

The aptly dubbed Fab Four broke up in 1970 (nine years before I was even born). A year after I was born, John Lennon was shot to death by crazed fan, Mark David Chapman. Now, nearly 22 years later, George Harrison is dead, leaving Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr the only living Beatles.

Harrison had been treated for lung and throat cancer in 1998, but apparently a brain tumor is to blame for his death.

Harrison had a brush with death last year when yet another crazed fan broke into his home and repeatedly stabbed him. When that happened, I couldn’t help but wonder why someone would want to kill a Beatle. If it wasn’t for John, Paul, George and Ringo, music as we know it today wouldn’t be the same.

Though tending to stay out of the spotlight, Harrison’s influence shone through in the Beatles like a ray of sunlight. Responsible for songs such as “Something,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Here Comes the Sun,” Harrison added a diverse flare to Lennon and McCartney’s pop songs.

Harrison introduced the band to a more eastern sound in 1968, after he went to India and found Hinduism, Ravi Shankar and the sitar, among other things.

When Harrison was just 27 years old, The Beatles broke up. He was glad.

In a 1990 interview, Harrison told a reporter that Lennon and McCartney were “pushy people.”

“I got tired of my role – well not my role, but Paul’s concept of my role: the quieter and more subordinate Beatle. I was quite happy when The Beatles split up,” Harrison said. (Knight Ridder News Services)

Regardless of their colorful history, Harrison and McCartney eventually resolved their differences years before Harrison’s death. In a statement released after the youngest Beatle’s death, McCartney expressed his condolences.

“He was a lovely guy and a very brave man and a wonderful sense of humor. He is really just my baby brother,” McCartney said.

Having grown up listening to The Beatles, and being best friends with possibly the biggest Beatlemaniac in the world, the band has been a huge part of my life. George Harrison’s death not only quells any rumors about a possible three-Beatle reunion, but it also ends an era of a great musician.

Not only was his impact greatly felt in The Beatles, but he also had an amazing solo career. He was the first Beatle to have a hit album after the breakup (“All Things Must Pass”), and he was also in the supergroup “The Travelling Wilbury’s” with Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynn. He was also a collaborator with Eric Clapton and many other musical geniuses.

As I sit and listen to Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and hear the beautiful guitar in it, I feel like music lovers everywhere have lost another true inspiration. At least we had him for as long as we did to inspire us in the first place.