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Celebrities flock to honour former Beatle Ringo Starr with musical tribute before Grammys

Musician Ringo Starr performs on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in Los Angeles. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Paul A. Hebert/Invision

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Musician Ringo Starr performs on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014, in Los Angeles. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Paul A. Hebert/Invision

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Ringo Starr got an early start to Grammy week, with famous friends honouring him for his life and work.

The former Beatle received the Lifetime of Peace and Love award from the David Lynch Foundation on Monday night during a tribute concert at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles.

In turn, Starr led the crowd in singing happy birthday to Lynch, the director known for "Blue Velvet" and "Mulholland Drive," who was celebrating his 68th birthday.

Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono expressed their love for Starr via videos, while George Harrison's widow, Olivia, was in the crowd. Starr and McCartney will perform separately at Sunday's Grammy Awards.

"It's a weird place to be this evening," Starr said onstage. "All this praise is overwhelming really. It's really great to look out and see all these people I recognize and three of them are meditating."

Lynch's foundation helps provide scholarships to teach transcendental meditation — a practice the Beatles dabbled in — to at-risk youth, veterans and domestic violence victims.

"Everybody loves Ringo," Lynch said. "Not just because he's a Beatle, not just because he's one of the tastiest drummers ever, but because he radiates that peace and love."

Don Was served as musical director for the all-star house band that included Peter Frampton, drummer Kenny Aronoff, former Toto guitarist Steve Lukather and keyboardist Benmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

"It's a great little band," Starr said. "I know them all personally."

Jesse Elliott and Lindsay Giles of Ark Life kicked off the show with a duet of "Can't Do It Wrong." The Head and the Heart paid homage to the Beatles on "Octopus's Garden" before Brendan Benson sang "Don't Go Where the Road Don't Go." Starr watched from the audience, bobbing his head to the beat.

Bettye LaVette offered up a soulful take on "It Don't Come Easy" after noting her 50th anniversary in the music business. "This is the baddest band I've had in the entire 50 years," she said.

Ben Folds tore through "Oh My My," resembling a mad scientist as he pounded the electric keyboard.

"It's very rare I play an ironing board for you, and it's only for Ringo and David," Folds joked.

Ben Harper slowed things down on "Walk With You," before turning the stage over to Joe Walsh, who took a break from the Eagles' run of shows reopening the Forum to jam for his brother-in-law. Walsh's wife, Marjorie, is the sister of Starr's wife, Barbara Bach.

"I'm gonna cheat," Walsh cracked, with the lyrics to "Back Off Boogaloo" propped on a stand in front of him.

By then, Starr had left his seat to head backstage, dancing in the wings as Walsh showed off his guitar licks.

"I've written these songs, but I've never heard them like that," Starr said as he took the stage for the finale.

He launched into his hit "Photograph," then got behind the drums for "Boys."

"I have to play something from the drums so you can see I can still hold the sticks," he joked.

Starr closed the show by taking the lead on "With a Little Help from My Friends," joined onstage by Jim Carrey, Sheila E. and Edgar Winter as the crowd got on its feet for the sing-along.

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