Ringo at his Secret 81st Birthday Peace & Love Celebration, 2021

A small private event was kept secret and held in lieu of a big public one to protect everyone from the ongoing risk of variant virus

Ringo’s 800-pound Peace Sign in Beverly Gardens Park

Ringo turned 81 today, making him the oldest Beatle ever. And he looks younger than ever. How is this even possible? Some answers seems obviously a part of this: his great marriage with his beautiful beloved wife, their clean, vegan lifestyle and the genuine joy he brings to everything he touches.

He’s also wisely cautious about protecting himself and others from avoidable risk and harm, which is why he did this private event instead of the big public celebration he’s given almost every year since 2008. Though the lockdown protocols have been eased, various variants pose a potential risk, so he protected himself – and also the public, his fans – from any chance of catching and spreading the virus.

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To avoid this risk, he chose instead to celebrate peace and love in a smaller, private and safe way. Only a few members of the press were invited (including American Songwriter, for which we are forever grateful), and we were asked to keep all plans confidential so the public would not attend this year. Also present were some of his closest friends and bandmates, including Joe Walsh, Steve Lukather, Jim Keltner and others.

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The event was held yesterday July 7, 2021 near his home in Beverly Hills at the lovely Beverly Gardens Park. Like Capitol Records, this location does have a Ringo-connection: he donated an immense 800-pound sculpture of a hand making that eternal peace sign he has kept alive in our minds and hearts for decades. It was the centerpiece of the event, shining in the sun.

Joe Walsh, Ringo & Barbara in front of Ringo’s permanent peace symbol in the park

Ringo at 81. July 7, 2021, Beverly Hills.
Photo by Paul Zollo/American Songwriter

Keeping the event secret not only made it more exciting, but was effective: only about two dozen fans were there, most of whom probably discovered it by seeing the gaggle of press assembled. But everyone was quiet and calm, and uplifted – as always – by their real-time proximity to a Beatle. And a happy, funny, great Beatle – even at 81.

At about 11:45 Ringo arrived with Barbara (who calls him Richie always; they smiled so sweetly at each other many times, as captured below. This is a marriage that works.) With his hair longer than it has been in years, and looking fit, trim and vigorous at this advanced age, he shone with calm joy and sweetness. He spoke to each of the assembled press quickly before joining with pals and bandmates at noon for his global Peace & Love invocation. 

As our video below shows, we went to the core of the mystery: how is it possible that now 81 – making him the oldest Beatle ever in history – he looks younger than ever? 

When this chance came for me to ask a question, I asked mine quickly as he had more press waiting and so didn’t follow up. Noticing me there in the sun wearing my black hat, he wove it into his answer.

He said he would spend the day quietly at home with friends and family (Joe Walsh, married to Barbara’s sister, is both), where he would celebrate what mattered most: love and peace.

Here’s some photos taken under my now Ringo-ized hat, which we bring to you with great gratitude for this man, and for the kindness and generosity of those who represent him. Even remembering what love and peace means and why it matters is rare in these modern times. Ringo does more than remembers peace and love. He promotes both in an authentic and beautiful way.

Of course, we’d love him even if he didn’t do any of this. He was in The Beatles! He’s already given so much to our world we have no right to expect any more. But even though he’s existed for many decades at the very top of that toppermost poppermost, the man has a big heart and a true soul.

He’s also the greatest drummer ever. Okay?

Happy 81st birthday Ringo – thank you and yours for the love and peace and joy.

Ringo smiling at Barbara on his 81st birthday, Beverly Hills, 7.7.2021
Photo by Paul Zollo/American Songwriter

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