Ringo Starr brings 'peace' to ChicagoBeatles fans flock to Hard Rock Hotel for birthday wish
By Melissa Patterson | Chicago Tribune reporter
8:50 PM CDT, July 7, 2008
All Ringo Starr wanted for his 68th birthday was a little "peace and love," he said.
He got it Monday from about 300 fans who lined an entire city block along East Wacker Place near Chicago's Hard Rock Hotel to sing "Happy Birthday" to the ex-Beatles drummer and flash peace signs in the air.
"What a great birthday gift!" said Starr, surrounded by television cameras. "If you could pan around, you could see Chicago is full of peace and lovers."
The hotel had arranged a celebration for Starr's birthday a few weeks ago after planners heard him say in a TV interview that he would love it if everyone in the world stopped what they were doing at noon July 7 to flash a peace sign, said Hard Rock spokeswoman Kathleen Henson.
When organizers heard the drummer would be in Chicago on that date as part of a tour with his All-Starr Band, they asked him to attend, Henson said. The band will play at Northerly Island on Sunday.
"It's a fantasy, and it's a dream I have," Starr said Monday, "that one minute, one day, one month, one year, everyone will go peace and love."
The aptly named Perfect Peace Cafe and Bakery in Chicago's Gresham neighborhood was chosen to bake about 300 miniature cupcakes that were distributed to members of the crowd, as well as a sheet cake bearing the Hard Rock logo.
"The Beatles hit America when I was 4 years old," said longtime fan Nick LoChirco of Darien, who enjoyed a piece of cake. "My first words were, 'Yeah yeah yeah.' "
Karen Swiat of Tinley Park said she had been waiting in front of the Hard Rock since 9 a.m. with her husband, daughter and best friend. A Beatles fan for almost 50 years, she said her reasons for loving the band have changed over time.
"Then I was a crazy teen