July 7 2024 Words by Morty Coyle. Images by Stevo Rood (@aroodphoto on FB & IG)

Watching Ben Harper soundcheck early to a sparse but growing crowd on a rapidly warming Sunday morning in Beverly Hills while longtime All-Starr Band drummer Gregg Bissonnette takes notes and times all the performances one realizes how impactful and sacred Pop music remains while still being held to the bottom line.

Our precious time is limited.

So of course they, we, and many more luminaries and friends were all there to share our time together for Ringo Starr’s 16th annual Peace & Love Birthday Celebration with at least 29 more concurrently occurring events happening worldwide and beyond. Beyond, because it was also being beamed up and back and across the universe by NASA to the International Space Station (ISS) orbiting our planet.

But we were fortunate to actually have Sir Ringo to make his universal birthday wish of Peace and Love with and for us all.

While waiting I met Felicia, a mom from Colorado and a 20 time Ringo concert-attendee, who after a near-fatal heart attack a few years ago was told by her doctors to make a list of things to live to achieve.

Attending Ringo’s birthday was so high up on her bucket list that she made the 800-mile pilgrimage with her family through the Summer heat to attend.

Judging by the multigenerational congregation here and worldwide, I’d imagine her remarkable story joins countless others.

The excitement of Ringo’s arrival and processional greeting stroll echoed a lifetime of Beatlemania for Felicia (who received two personal Peace and Loves from Ringo upon hearing her story) and the now energized and phone-waving throng along Santa Monica Blvd. near the home of Ringo’s “Peace and Love” sculpture.

After a drum flourish from the stage, the day’s MC, longtime All-Starr Band drummer Gregg Bissonnette welcomed the crowd and introduced the live acts honoring Ringo with songs he wrote and/or performed.

These included Ben Dickey and Ben Harper playing spirited and intimate solo versions of “Weight of the World” and “Walk With You”, respectively. They bookended a supergroup of bassist/producer Don Was, former Punch Brothers violinist Gabe Witcher, multi-instrumentalist John Jorgensen on mandolin, slide guitarist Greg Leisz, and vocalist/guitarist Willie Watson of Old Crow Medicine Show, that masterfully performed a few of Ringo’s Country numbers: “Fastest Growing Heartache in the West”, “Beaucoups of Blues”, and “Act Naturally.”

Right on schedule, legendary rockstar and Ringo’s brother-in-law Joe Walsh came up to briefly and comically explain the enormity of the event before bringing up Ringo and his family and friends (including their wives, sisters Barbara Starkey and Marjorie Walsh) for the noon Pacific Time countdown to transmitting Peace and Love. Of course a quick chorus singalong of “Birthday” from The Beatles’ “White Album” was in order. 

Happy birthday, Ringo and thanks for reminding us that now, as much as ever, Peace and Love is what we all need.

Other guests included: writer/producer/performer Linda Perry, former Wings drummer Denny Seiwell, musical legend Stephen Stills, Guns ‘N’Roses and Velvet Revolver drummer Matt Sorum (and his adorable daughter Lou), songwriter Diane Warren, actor/comedian/musician Fred Armisen, musical legend Edgar Winter, Nick Valensi of The Strokes, musician/producer Roy Orbison Jr. and his wife Asa, and drummer/writer/director Alex “Orbi” Orbison.

Check out the full gallery of photos from this day by A Rood Photo here.

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