Popular artist George Zirro Harrison who is also one of the founding members of the renowned Them Mushrooms band is dead.
Lovers of Them Mushrooms were left in shock following the sudden demise of the lead guitarist, saxophonist and keyboard player who died on Monday evening (5pm) at the Langata hospital as a result of kidney and liver failure.
His brother John Katana also the group’s bandleader, told The Standard that George was rushed to the hospital and admitted on Sunday morning following complaints of swollen stomach attributed to liver failure.
“He has been previously admitted due to the same condition three years ago. We were unsure of his chances of survival going by his condition which appeared critical but nevertheless prayed and hoped for the best,” said Katana.
According to Billy Saro who was by his bedside alongside Katana, George developed difficulties in breathing barely 20 minutes after the doctor had examined him, assuring them that all would be well.
“As we chatted, he suddenly complained of breathing problems and a few minutes later, died in our arms,” added Billy.
His body was moved to Umash Funeral home awaiting burial arrangements by his family members.
At the time of his death George, alongside Them Mushrooms band members had just been interviewed by a media house and had a chance to showcase their skills. An interview that proved they are still relevant and force to reckon with in the local music industry.
The group was scheduled to perform at various private functions among them The Public Service Commission and at the launch of legendary Kenyan football player Joe Kadenge’s book launch on 10, 11 and 14 of this month.
“We will see how to go about the show even without his presence because at the end of the day it is God who gives and takes. We are all scheduled to die at some point,” said Katana.
Prior to his death, the timeless quartet had just released an authentic Swahili song titled Jumamosi produced by Katana and recorded by Robert Kamanzi of Mingi Love Studio. The single done in a variety of styles and a tinge of zouk with a unique dancing style targets all age groups and has been well received among local music lovers.
According to Them Mushrooms George, who played bass, tenor and alto including music instruments like saxophone, Congas, keyboard and the silver flute was also a lead vocalist who bore ambition as his middle name.
“We will remember him for his ambitious nature during all our recordings and stage performances taking into consideration that he could so wonders with whatever instrument he laid his hands on,” said the founder member cum first band leader of the group Teddy Kalanda.
He added: “His demise is a big blow to the local entertainment industry and Them Mushrooms as a band and as a family considering that it will be difficult to find a replacement of his caliber.”
Another band member Lawrence Sengo said Zirro will be remembered for his extraordinary guitar works on the band’s music and his special and big heart towards the band members and fans.
“We will miss his amiable character, generousity and loving heart,” says Katana, adding that burial arrangements are scheduled for Thursday in Nairobi.
“We are currently meeting to decide the way forward and also give his fans an opportunity to be able to view his body besides sending condolences and a fundraiser.
The fourth born in a family of seven two girls and five boys – George is a single parent with a son.