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Beatle celebrates birthday with 'peace and love'

  • Story Highlights
  • Ringo Starr's 68th birthday on Monday prompted him to ask for peace and love
  • Starr was in Chicago on his 10th "Ringo Starr and his All Stars" tour
  • King says Starr's new CD "Liverpool 8" is the most personal of his albums
  • "It was incredible," Starr says of his Beatles days
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(CNN) -- The Beatles first appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show" 44 years ago. It's also been 44 years since the Beatles held the five top positions of the Billboard pop chart, a feat never achieved before -- or since.

Ringo Starr wishes peace and love to everyone following Larry King singing "Happy Birthday" to him.

Ringo Starr wishes peace and love to everyone following Larry King singing "Happy Birthday" to him.

But no time has passed since one of the Beatles, Ringo Starr, was playing up on stage.

The drummer's 68th birthday Monday coincided with his 10th "Ringo Starr and his All Stars" tour. In honor of the day, he asked people to take a moment at noon for peace and love. Thousands joined him in Chicago to do just that.

He also celebrated his birthday on "Larry King Live," talking with King about Beatlemania, his new album and the tour. The following is an edited version of the interview:

KING: How did you come up with the idea [of peace and love]?

RINGO STARR: Oh it came in a dream -- flaming pie.

It's just -- I just thought it would be a nice thing when, you know, because it's my birthday and I'm on tour, everybody is saying what do you want for your birthday? So I thought well, why not at noon doesn't everybody go "peace and love"? Video Watch people celebrate Starr's birthday in London »

KING: That was something the Beatles were always concerned with, weren't they, those kind of themes?

STARR: Well, yes. It was part of our generation, of the '60s -- middle '60s, of course and, you know, with flower power and peace and love and that -- I'm just keeping it rolling. That's what I'm doing.

KING: Why do you perform?

STARR: I perform because that's what I do. When I was 13, the dream was to be a drummer. I didn't want to be a guitarist or anything else. I wanted to be a drummer. That happened.

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I started playing with local musicians and I always wanted to play with the best musicians around. I ended up in the biggest band in the world with the best musicians. I'm still doing it now. The dream unfolds all the time. I love to play. I love to perform. It's a lot of fun, and it just happens to be what I do.

KING: But it's never a grind?

STARR: No. Hotels are a grind. The traveling's always a grind. The good things that come out of that is that for ... two hours and 15 minutes a night, you get a chance to just have a great time.

KING: How is the all-star band picked?

STARR: I picked them because the first rule is that you have to have had a hit in the '60s, which I had, '70s, which I had, '80s or '90s. We're the best 1-800-band that goes live.

You know, Colin Hay from Men at Work, Edgar Winter, Billy Squier, Gary Wright [with] "Dream Weaver," Hamish [Stuart] from the Average White Band. Everybody on stage has had hits. The thing is, for the summer collectively, we all get together and support each other. I play on all their songs. They play on mine. Some of them I do from the front. I have this other drummer, Greg Bissonette, who is great. He does those and then I get up and play the drums. I win both ways.

KING: Your latest CD is "Liverpool 8," and it is probably -- not probably, it's definitely the most personal of your albums. Why did you do it?

STARR: You're a writer, I write with friends. People are talking about the actual title track, "Liverpool 8," which was about my life. The first verse, I was a sailor first; I was in the Merchant Navy. I worked in a factory and then I joined Rory Storm and that's when I went professional as a musician, and we played this holiday camp called Butlin's Holiday Camp, and then we went to Hamburg and we ended up in [New York's] Shea [Stadium].

It's like a mini autobiography. I think that's what people are getting to.

KING: How did you get to be a Beatle?

STARR: I got it because I'm an incredible musician, and I knew the boys, and they gave me -- I was playing with Rory. They gave me a call and said, do you want to join the band. I said, sure. That's how it happened.

KING: Did you like that band right off?

STARR: No. I liked that band before I was in it. It was the only band I used to go and see in Liverpool. We became friends before that, before I joined. We were all playing in the same venues. Actually, Rory Storm and the Beatles played in Germany together. It wasn't like I was some stranger they called up.

KING: Did you like the other drummer?

STARR: The other drummer was the other drummer, you know. A lot of water has gone under the bridge. They, for their reasons, decided they wanted a change, and I am the result.

KING: How fortunate for everyone. You and Paul McCartney are the two still alive. You were with us last year in Vegas in an extraordinary show. This may be difficult. What was it like to be a Beatle?

STARR: Well, it's difficult, because what was it like? I mean, it was incredible. It was hard, because when we started we were a club band and then it got bigger and bigger. Because we were four brothers together, we supported each other. But you cannot not say that it wasn't crazy days and reckless nights. That's what it was.

You know, in the end, you know, the one big image that we had, the whole floor of the Plaza [Hotel] in New York and the four of us were hanging out in the bathroom trying to get away from the pressure.

KING: Do you still listen to the Beatles?

STARR: Yes, of course I do, some great tracks. My iPod is on shuffle. I have Beatle tracks in it. So they come up and, you know, the music is still, you know -- I love the music.

KING: Why or how do you explain their long lasting?

STARR: Because they were great songs and, you know, we were incredible musicians who gave those songs incredible life.

KING: Do you think the Beatles would be a success today?

STARR: Sure.

KING: Great music is great music.

STARR: Hey, I mean, the kids of today don't know us really, but they know the music. You know, they're still listening to it and saying wow! You talk to any new band, most of them have actually had a listen to what we did.

KING: Anything you want to do, Ringo, you haven't done?

STARR: No, I'm sort of doing enough. It's good. And I'm privileged and blessed that I can do what I want to do, when I want to do it.


KING: And it's still -- when you're on that stage, hitting those drums and the band is going --

STARR: Love it.

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