|Ringo Starr, performing during the Woodstock 50th anniversary last year, is holding an online birthday party to fete his 80th year. — AFP/VNA Photo|
LOS ANGELES — With a little help from his friends, Beatles drummer Ringo Starr was set to hold an online 80th birthday bash on Tuesday featuring former bandmate Paul McCartney, in aid of charities including Black Lives Matter.
Normally the British musician marks each passing year with performances including fellow musicians and hundreds of fans – but the pandemic forced a rethink this time.
"I love birthdays," Starr told Rolling Stone recently. "This year is going to be a little different. There's no big get-together, there's no brunch for 100.
"But we're putting this show together – an hour of music and chat. It's quite a big birthday."
The show will see a virtual reunion between Starr and McCartney, who play together on occasion and last year united for a surprise performance in Los Angeles as part of McCartney's Freshen Up tour.
"I love playing with Paul," Starr told the magazine in an interview published on Tuesday. "He's still for me, the finest, most melodic bass player in the world, and I love what he does.
"But, you see, this is when you realise I've said that for 40 years. I'm still saying the same line!"
Ben Harper, Dave Grohl, Sheila E. and Sheryl Crow also are set to be among the celebrities joining Starr – who lives in Los Angeles – at 5 pm local time (0000 GMT) for the online party.
The event is encouraging donations to the Black Lives Matter Global Network, The David Lynch Foundation, MusiCares and WaterAid, according to Starr's website.
Ahead of the bash NASA's Curiosity Rover tweeted Starr birthday wishes from space.
‘Peace and Love’
"Happy 80th, Ringo! Here's my view of Earth (and Venus) from the surface of Mars where I'm thinking about your message of Peace and Love, and how in good times and in tough ones, we all get by with a little help from our friends," it said.
Known for his easy-going personality and humour, Starr rocketed to global fame in the early 1960s and helped change the face of pop music forever as part of the Beatles – still perhaps the world's most famous band.
After the group's break-up, Starr emerged as a band leader in the late 1980s with his All Starr Band, a collaboration that is still active today with various artists that played hits from the Beatles and other ensembles.
In his wide-ranging discussion with Rolling Stone, the newly-minted octogenarian talked about his recent turn to health as he heads into his ninth decade.
Starr said he works out anywhere from three to six times a week, goes for long walks and maintains a vegetarian diet – eating "broccoli with everything and blueberries every morning."
He said he hasn't really left his LA home in some 11 weeks during the pandemic, inviting an engineer over just once for a jam session.
"I do a bit of that and I have a paint room, a little art room. And I'm going in there, painting and doing stuff. And I love to sit in the sun. I love LA. I love the brightness and hanging out.
"That's all we're doing." — AFP