Rocker Eric Clapton was stunned when his pal George Harrison died of cancer in 2001, because he wasn't aware the former beatle was in such bad health.

The LAYLA singer regrets their friendship suffered after Harrison was stabbed by an intruder at his home in 1999, because the late star's fear of further attacks was so intense, he kept himself hidden away in his high-security Henley-On-Thames, Berkshire, England, abode.

But Clapton remains devastated he didn't discover his famous pal was terminally ill until it was too late.

He says, "I didn't attend to the relationship but it was still there. The saddest part was that I had no inkling how ill he was. I was actually in Japan when he died.

"The last time I saw him was after his place got broken into, and he was attacked. I said to him, 'If you spent more time cultivating the locals and less building security fences it wouldn't have happened.'

"George had become very reclusive, paranoid, and suspicious of everyday life, and I think that attracted trouble."

13/04/2004 20:56