NEW YORK (Reuters) - The surviving Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, performed together on Saturday to raise money to help kids learn a meditation technique the 1960s icons practiced at the height of their fame.
McCartney was joined onstage by Starr for a rousing rendition of “With a Little Help From My Friends” at Radio City Music Hall at the Change Begins Within concert for the David Lynch Foundation, which promotes Transcendental Meditation.
The Beatles helped popularize Transcendental Meditation — described as a simple mental technique to combat stress — in 1967 when they sought spiritual guidance from an Indian guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
“It started for us when we met the Maharishi in India and it’s going to get bigger and bigger and rule the world,” McCartney said after playing his post-Beatles hit “Jet.”
McCartney’s set topped an evening that included performances by Starr, Sheryl Crow, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, Ben Harper and others.
McCartney’s choice of songs included Beatles classics such as “Let it Be,” “Lady Madonna” and “Blackbird” and the concert was rife with nostalgia for the two dead Beatles, John Lennon and George Harrison.
McCartney and Starr last played together in November 2002 at the Concert for George in London’s Royal Albert Hall after Harrison’s death from cancer at the age of 58.
“I love New York and John loved New York. Let’s hear it for John,” McCartney said before playing the plaintive “Here Today,” a song he wrote after Lennon’s murder in 1980 and which appeared on his 1982 “Tug of War” album.
Earlier, after playing his hit “It Don’t Come Easy,” Starr said, “I wrote that song with George Harrison and you know he would have been here tonight.”
Starr also played Beatles favorites “Yellow Submarine” and “Boys.”
Folk singer Donovan, who was also in India with the Beatles said, “George is here in spirit.”
The highlight of the evening was McCartney introducing Starr, invoking the name of the imaginary singer from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Billy Shears,” McCartney said as his former drummer walked onstage to join him at the microphone.
Starr remained on stage for an encore, playing drums on a song written by McCartney while in India, “And Remember to be ... Cosmically Conscious,” and “I Saw Her Standing There.”
Filmmaker David Lynch’s foundation says that since 2005 it has provided scholarships for more than 100,000 at-risk young people, teachers and parents in 30 countries to learn Transcendental Meditation.
The concert was intended to raise money to help 1 million children learn to meditate.
Editing by Bill Trott