Ringo Starr’s phone rang today at 12 p.m. on the dot.

At the time, the legendary Beatles drummer was standing on a cement slab in Beverly Gardens Park in front of the 800-pound “Peace & Love” sculpture he donated to the city of Beverly Hills in 2019. Surrounded by friends, collaborators like Joe Walsh and family including wife Barbara Bach, Starr answered the Facetime call but promptly announced he had to return by explaining, “I’m a little busy.” The crowd erupted in laughter even though the main event had been completed seconds earlier.

Starr, who has been flashing the peace sign since the 1960s, has carried on with a more formal tradition that started in 2008 that finds him celebrating his birthday by promoting peace and love around the world at precisely 12 p.m., no matter the time zone. On Wednesday, the musician did just that in front of a small set of journalists and photographers and two dozen or so fans who gathered behind a barricade on the Santa Monica Boulevard sidewalk.

“Peace and love. Peace and love,” proclaimed Starr, clad in black Adidas track pants and sneakers paired with a denim jacket and a black T-shirt emblazoned with a rainbow-colored hand flashing the peace sign. “Even Joe Walsh got out of bed for it.”

It was a nice day for it, too, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 90210 hovering in the upper 70s. Starr arrived at the event around 11:40 a.m. and hustled through a series of interviews on the press line to make the 12 p.m. deadline. He shared his enthusiasm for being able to attend such an event after an extended period of COVID-19 lockdowns, which forced him to cancel several tours. Starr still managed to release a five-track EP in March, Zoom In, and has another one ready to debut in September.

But as for Wednesday, his schedule included sharing a meal with family and friends and dedicating the rest of his 81st birthday to the theme of the day. “Spreading some peace and love today,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “This is a full peace and love day in our house.” And, perhaps, returning that phone call. “It’s Jason,” he announced to the crowd, referring to his son, one of three children. “Love you, J.”

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