Ringo Starr's annual "Peace and Love" ceremony for his birthday seems to get bigger each year, and although last year's event marking his 75th birthday was a star-packed blowout, Thursday's festivities in Hollywood appeared to push the needle up at least one more notch.
As usual, a crowd of 200 to 300 fans gathered outside the Capitol Records Tower, closing down part of Vine Street north of Holywood Boulevard.
A few minutes before noon, when the ex-Beatle traditionally asks fans around the world to flash the peace sign and say the words "peace and love" in whatever time zone they're in, a stream of stars, largely but not exclusively from the music world, emerged from the Capitol building and joined Starr on a riser in front of the crowd and a couple of dozen TV camera crews.
Starr got more than a little help from friends including rocker Joe Walsh, filmmaker David Lynch, fellow British Invasion singer Eric Burdon, keyboardist Benmont Tench of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers, former Eurythmics guitarist-songwriter Dave Stewart, blues-rocker Edgar Winter, comedians Howie Mandel and Richard Lewis, Starr's actress-wife Barbara Bach, Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, producer-songwriter Glen Ballard, veteran studio and touring drummer Jim Keltner, Mr. Mister bassist-singer Richard Page and his All-Starr Band drummer Greg Bissonette.
"There's a lot of violence in the world, but I want you to join me today in saying 'peace and love,'" Starr said. He's previously explained that the effort, although modest, reflects his belief in the ancient quote from Chinese philosopher Lao-Tse that "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."
"You can all say 'peace and love' with us, then go home tonight and watch TV and say, 'I made a difference today,'" Walsh, who is also Starr's brother-in-law (he is married to Bach's sister Marjorie), told the crowd shortly before he conducted the 3-2-1 countdown to the group chant.
Event organizers then presented Starr with a large rectangular cake adorned with a peace symbol and the words he has used for decades as a public mantra.
He also tossed dozens of white rubber "peace and love" bracelets into the crowd before retreating into Capitol's famed Studio A, where Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, the Beach Boys, Taylor Swift and countless other pop, rock, country, R&B and other genre musicians have recorded over the last 60 years.
Next week Starr will head to Las Vegas for a 10th-anniversary celebration of the Beatles-Cirque du Soleil collaboration "Love," which has been extended into a second decade. That ceremony on July 14 also is expected to be attended by Paul McCartney; John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono; and George Harrison's widow, Olivia Harrison.
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