Well, that’s one for the bucket list. I spent a birthday with one of The Beatles!!! Ringo Starr celebrated his 74th birthday at Capitol Records in Hollywood where—with a little help from his friends including rock & roll fashion designer John Varvatos and famed filmmaker David Lynch—his wish for “Peace & Love” came true. The birthday celebration marked the launch of the #PeaceRocks campaign that encourages everyone to share photos of themselves flashing the peace sign via Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. For every photo tagged #PeaceRocks, Varvatos’ company will donate $1 now through the end of 2014 to the Ringo Starr Peace & Love Fund, a part of the David Lynch Foundation, which teaches meditation to inner-city students and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress.
Of course, I could’ve spent all day asking Ringo about being in the most beloved band in the world, not to mention catching up with John on his cool clothing collections and delving into David’s twisted cinematic world. But time with these guys … it don’t come easy. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) It was truly a dream come true to have a few laughs and listen to these incredibly successful, funny and surprisingly approachable guys talk about—what else—peace and love.
Happy birthday, Ringo! Hi, David! John, great to see you again! Ringo, of all the things you’ve done in your career, why is this project so important to you?
Ringo: What we’re doing now is important because the world is in a weird place and we’re just trying to give another side to what it could be and that’s peace and love.
John, your fashion line is rooted in rock & roll and you’ve featured so many musicians in your campaigns. I already know the answer, but I’ll ask anyway: Why Ringo?
John: It’s Ringo. I mean, it’s frickin’ Ringo! Let’s just start with that. But, you know, he hit a chord with me and has for many years. As I say, he’s the voice for peace and love in the world and when we connected we started talking about things and I understood he was working with David and so eventually we started this campaign called #PeaceRocks.
Explain the #PeaceRocks campaign.
John: If you post a picture of yourself with the peace symbol and the hashtag #PeaceRocks we’ll give a dollar to the charity. It’s that simple and it’s a pretty special thing.
Ringo: It’s great, man. I’ve been doing this for six years and it’s only getting better. People are getting excited and all it took was love, what little we can do.
David: And now Ringo gets to be a male model! [They all laugh.]
The Ringo Starr Peace & Love Fund spreads its message through transcendental meditation. We’re all so ‘go go go’ who has time to meditate?
Ringo: Well, we do. [All laugh.] And millions of people around the world. I meditated this morning.
Was that the initial commonality between you and David?
Ringo: Yeah, David started his fund and we both do the same meditation, TM, which is transcendental meditation, so we had something in common. And about four years ago Paul and I played for the [Change Begins Within] benefit David put on and we’ve become friends ever since. David’s the one who started the Ringo Starr Peace & Love Fund, so he’s doing all of the work, really.
And do you really think TM is a way to peace and love throughout the world?
David: Within every human being is an ocean of peace and love, and you can experience that ocean; transcendental meditation is the technique to get you there. When you experience it you grow in that and you get more peace and love within yourself to appreciate. It’s so beautiful. It’s the ticket.
It’s the ticket!
Ringo: It’s the ticket, OK?[At this point David is distracted/intrigued by my photographer’s GoPro camera and starts talking to him about it before getting back to our group conversation.]
Now, I have this silk white rose from the “Peace in 10,000 Hands” project where people around the world are photographed holding it. The Dalai Lama even blessed it, and we’d love for you, each of you, to hold it and tell–
Ringo: Well, the Dalai Lama’s not doing a bad job!
What does peace mean to you?
Ringo: Peace means that we can all be with one another without violence, without greed … and helping each other. That’s what it’s about for me.
David: Peace is deep, deep, deep contentment, harmony, coherence, bliss. So beautiful. Real peace is that. Peace unites and if you’ve got that peace inside you, you’d never hurt another human being. Everybody gets along and it can be a very beautiful world.
Ringo: David always says it better than I do! [All laugh.]
John: Well, how do you follow that up? But honestly, it starts from within and it’s what you share with the rest of the world. When we look at what’s happening in the world today it’s not a great place in a lot of parts of the world, so the more we all kind of push it, the more … you know, you keep pushing it and at some point in time it’s gotta take hold. It’s really gotta take hold. I think we all truly believe that.
Ringo: I’d just like to say that David helps kids in the inner [city] schools meditate, he’s finding spaces for that and it is a known fact that violence is going down. And also you know, in certain parts of the world people are drinking [Ringo lowers his voice and puts his hand over his mouth like he’s about to share a secret or say some incredibly offensive word] crap, so I’m a big supporter of water aid. I think everybody should have clean water and we’re all working for that, too. So there’s lots you can do to spread peace and love.