Ringo Starr marks 84th birthday on stage with message of ‘peace and love’

Sir Ringo Starr danced and clapped on stage to live music after spreading a message of “peace and love” as he celebrated his 84th birthday.

The former Beatle was joined by friends including rock star Joe Walsh, comedian-turned-actor Fred Armisen and musician Diane Warren – as well as a limited number of fans – to mark the occasion in Beverly Hills, California, on Sunday.

Sir Ringo hosted his annual “peace and love” moment at midday local time, which saw the drummer lead the crowd in chants of his trademark slogan as well as being serenaded by a chorus of happy birthday.

Speaking about why the moment resonates with the world, Sir Ringo told the PA news agency: “I think a lot of it is a throwback from the 60s, I was in that band and then a lot of it’s still from the 60s onwards, but people love it.

“People enjoy the peace and love moments, that’s what it’s about and that’s all I do, peace and love.”

Sir Ringo launched the event in 2008 and it has expanded to involve gatherings around the world.

“I am getting overwhelmed, there are so many of you now, we started with like 50 people in 2008,” he said on stage.

“(I am) truly grateful that you all turned up today otherwise I’d be lonely – all I do is say peace and love.

“That’s all I’m doing and we’re going around the world, now we’re in 35 countries, most of them have gone back to bed.”

After his speech, Walsh sang “it’s Ringo’s birthday, happy birthday Ringo, we’re going to have a good time” as Sir Ringo danced and clapped on stage to the live music.

Sir Ringo joked with the crowd “you can dance if you want too”, later signing off saying “I’ll be in my room eating cake”.

The Liverpool-born rock star, whose real name is Richard Starkey, also took pictures beside the shiny steel sculpture of his hand making the peace sign in the Beverly Hills Garden.

Musicians celebrated Sir Ringo’s music with tribute performances from Ben Harper, Gabe Witcher, Willie Watson, Greg Leisz, Don Was, Ben Dickey and Gregg Bissonette with Steve Dudas.

US guitarist Walsh, who featured in rock band Eagles and Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, took to the stage telling the crowd how the pair first met at the Record Plant in 1973.

“I first had the privilege to meet Mr Ringo Starr for a good old-fashioned late-night jam session. At least that is how the legend goes because neither Ringo or I remember much about that night, but people that were there said we were instantly best friends.

“It must be true because more than 50 years later, here I stand in the blistering Californian sun besides a statue of his fingers – his hand is much smaller than that by the way – surrounded by a veritable who’s who of who to wish my best friend, now Sir Ringo Starr, a very happy 84th birthday.

“The world loves Ringo Starr because how could they not, he was the Beatle you wanted to hang out with, the beating heart of the most beloved musical act in history, the drummer by which all drummers will be measured for all time, and a man who has a very simple message for the world, peace and love.

“Think of the power we can harness when so many of us from so many corners of this great big world can all come together at the same time… turn to their neighbour and straight up declare peace and love.”

Among those paying tribute was Sir Paul McCartney who wished his long-standing friend and former bandmate a “fabulous” birthday.

Alongside a photograph of the pair smiling, Sir Paul said: “Happy birthday to Ringo and to my Dad!

“Hope Sir Richard Starkey has a fabulous day.”

The US actress and wife of Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, also offered birthday wishes, writing: “Happy birthday, Ringo and happy heavenly birthday, Mr McCartney!”