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Do you remember when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show on February 9, 1964?  I do.  I wasn't that hip to the music scene, but I do remember the huge excitement before and after that show, which is credited as the first salvo in what came to be known as 'The  British Invasion'.  Guess what?  Ringo Starr (aka Sir Richard Starkey) turned 80 Tuesday.

80!  It's hard to even think about rock stars turning 80 because we remember them in their youth.  And unlike many rock stars, the two remaining Beatles -- Ringo and Sir Paul McCartney) have aged extremely well.  Ringo celebrated Tuesday with an online 'Happy Birthday Ringo' 'Peace, Love, and Black Lives Matter' online extravaganza with someclassic performances as well as a few new ones, including a stunning performance of 'All You Need Is Love' with Sheryl Crow playing everythiing from ukulele to accordian to piano to cello to drums, and singing lead and backups herself.  (In the video it begins at the 14 minute mark).  Ringo even plays drums in a new online long-distance drum duet with Sheila E., playing  "Come Together"... together.

A lot of celebrities have responded to the coronavirus pandemic and the George Floyd killing with online charity performances to the point where you almost feel jaded, thinking they're doing it because its the thing to do.  This one is different.  You get the very strong sense that is part of Starr's makeup, and the numerous birthday messages from celebrity friends and his family support that feeling.

There was a lot of excitement in my school when that fateful performance was about to take place.  70 million viewers watched them sing on that show.  The critics panned them, but everyone else loved them, and the British Invasion was on.  Two enterprising classmates who were a lot more savvy to the music scene than I was showed up at school the next day with Beatles photographs taken of their television screens and probably stayed up all night developing and printing.  When I was in college a friend told me she had been a Beatlemaniac, following the band around to various concerts.

I liked the band's music more as they matured, and the fact that they continually pushed the envelope of how Rock and Roll is defined made them one of the most interesting pop bands in history.  I once heard a McCartney interview in which he described his song writing routine.  After getting the song mainly written, he said he always looked for a twist to make it special.  And in the birthday video we learn that the Beatles only did things if there was a unanimous 4-0 vote, which speaks to the incredible musical instincts the band collectively had.

While I generally like innovative modern pop performers, I am not impressed with mainstream pop which can be summarized by three notes, lyrics that have no respect for the cadence of words and language, but overwhelm you with lots and lots and lots of words and repeated phrases (this sentense could be a hit pop song).  I suppose there were plenty of bad folk and rock songs in the '60s as well.  That's what is so great about the '60s.  We can look back at it remembering only the 'classics' without the clutter of the long-forgotten mediocre.

At 80 Ringo has still got it.  I'm younger than he is, but I am closer than I'd like to be, and I still haven't figured out what 'it' is, but I know 'it' when I see it. Ringo has 'it'. He looks young.  He acts young. He seems to love life and the people he shares it with.  He is engaged with people and the world around him, and he is all about the music.  Also he seems nice.  I don't know if he is, but he certainly seems it.

As long as I have known about him, Ringo has struck me as a kind and earnest earnest guy, not especially impressed with his own fame (though he clearly enjoys it), who is all about the music and genuinely interested in people.  Paul may have been the most loved Beatle, but Ringo was certainly the most lovable.  My impression is that he was born that way.  I aspire to be like that, but have spent decades clawing my way toward that height, and I suspect I'll never reach it.

It is something to aspire to, though, and Ringo makes it fun along the way.  I hope he lives at least another 80 years.

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