Ringo Starr and Phil Lesh at 80!

What do Phil Lesh and Ringo Starr have in common? Both are famous musicians (who arguably played with two of the best-known bands in music history, both are still playing, and both had plans for their 80th birthday celebrations which needed to be changed due to Covid-19.

Phil Lesh, bass player for the Grateful Dead and still touring with Phil Lesh and Friends, was to celebrate 3 shows at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, NY—March 13th-15th, with the final show taking place on his actual birthday.  Phil Lesh was set to play with a band featuring the legendary David Crosby as well as Dawes members Taylor Goldsmith, Griffin Goldsmith and Lee Pardini on Friday, March 13. Crosby was also to play on Saturday, March 14 in the concert which was supposed to feature Phil Lesh Quintet (“The Q”) member’s guitarists Warren Haynes and Jimmy Herring, keyboardist Rob Barraco and drummer John Molo.

Lesh is still going strong and there is no doubt that he will be back out on the road to celebrate once it is safe.

And today, Ringo Starr turns 80.  The legendary Beatle drummer recently reported in a Times of Israel article, “I just love to play,” Starr says. “I’m still playing. I should have been playing right now, and in the first tour this year, then having a break for my birthday, then September and October tour. I really miss that. I’ve been playing actually more now than I ever did. We’re in a great business and we don’t have to retire — we can just go on as long as we can go on. And I plan to go on a lot longer than 80.”

Fans can participate in Ringo’s Big Birthday Show tonight at 8pm ET on his YouTube channel [https://www.youtube.com/user/ringostarr].  The Starr-studded broadcast will feature performances by Ringo, Paul McCartney, Joe Walsh, Ben Harper and Dave Grohl, Gary Clark Jr., Sheila E., Sheryl Crow & more, plus additional guest surprises!  The show also features footage of the remaining Beatles cast performing the hit “With a Little Help from My Friends’” live at a 30th anniversary celebration of Ringo’s All Starr Band tours, filmed this past September.

Ringo & Barbara Starkey founded The Lotus Foundation to fund, support, participate in and promote charitable projects aimed at advancing social welfare in diverse areas. The Lotus Foundation will be splitting donations from the show evenly between 4 organizations doing important, vital work around the world: Black Lives Matter Global Network, The David Lynch Foundation, MusiCares & WaterAid.

Starr is excited about the celebration, which will take a slightly different form from previous birthday celebrations.  “I’ve got a huge birthday; I am going to be 80,” says Starr. “But I am going to celebrate it a little differently this year from the last 12 years, where we had the peace and love moment at noon.” The annual tradition began in 2008 at a 100-guest gathering for his birthday at the Hard Rock in Chicago. It has expanded to 27 countries, with the gathering’s main stage in Hollywood.

Tonight offers an opportunity to reflect on the impressive careers and years of service of both Lesh and Starr.  They have seen and experienced so much over the decades.  Both are grandfathers, and continue to bring joy to their loving, admiring fans. 

Ringo Starr reports, “I’ve got eight grandchildren now and a great-grandson. Life has been very kind to me. And we’re in a great business because we don’t have to retire; we can just go on as long as we can go on. And I plan to go on a lot longer than 80.”

Please DON’T retire anytime soon, Phil and Ringo!  Happy Birthday!

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