There's no shortage of stars, real and imagined, visible along Hollywood's Walk of Fame, but even by Tinseltown standards, Paul McCartney ramped up the quotient Thursday in getting his own belated star.
The former Beatle drew several hundred fans who packed a cordoned-off section of Vine Street outside Capitol Records for the ceremony.
He brought several Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member pals along for the ride, including Neil Young, who gave McCartney a cheery introduction, Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh and pop music power couple Elvis Costello and Diana Krall. Jazz great Herbie Hancock was there as well as musician-producer Don Was and former Electric Light Orchestra leader/Traveling Wilburys member Jeff Lynne. McCartney's wife, Nancy, and son, James, also attended the ceremony.
PANORAMIC PHOTO: Paul McCartney star ceremony
"Let me tell you a little bit about our friend Paul here just as a musician," said Young, wearing a black leather Buffalo Springfield tour jacket. "When I was in high school and the Beatles came out, I loved the Beatles and I tried to learn how to play like them, and no one could figure out what Paul was doing on the bass. Not only was he playing differently because he plays left-handed, he played notes that no one had put together before -- in a way that made us stand in awe of this great musician."
"I'm so proud to be doing this," he added. "As a musician, as a songwriter, Paul's craft and his art are truly at the top of his game, the way Charlie Chaplin was an actor. He has an ability to put melodies and feelings and chords together, but it's the soul that he puts into everything he does that makes me feel so good and so happy to be here."
McCartney then stepped to the microphone and first acknowledged his debt to "three other guys -- so thanks, John, George and Ringo."
PHOTOS: Paul McCartney star ceremony
Although Starr, the only other surviving Beatle, lives in Southern California, McCartney said, "Ringo's a little under the weather, so he's not here." The comment drew sighs of disappointment from onlookers.
"When I was growing up in Liverpool and listening to Buddy Holly and the other rock 'n' roll greats, I never thought I'd ever come to get a star on the Walk of Fame," said McCartney, 69 -- a sentiment probably shared by members of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, who had been after him to accept the award ever since it was approved for him in 1993. "But here we are today," he said.
"Today," not coincidentally, was the 48th anniversary of the Beatles' game-changing U.S. television debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show." The ceremony also came synergistically just two days after the release of McCartney's latest album, "Kisses on the Bottom," a collection of mostly pre-rock pop songs he loved as a child, supplemented by two originals.
INTERACTIVE: Hollywood Star Walk
Always the Beatle most attuned to business matters, he closed his succinct speech by telling fans and others "around the world that I send you all hugs and kisses on the bottom."
It's a particularly busy week for McCartney: After the star ceremony, he was slated to do a live performance in one of Capitol's recording studios to be streamed live at 7 tonight on iTunes and Apple TV. On Friday, he's the guest of honor at the Recording Academy's annual MusiCares Person of the Year all-star tribute gala and fundraiser. And Sunday, he's on tap to perform during the Grammy Awards telecast.
Many fans who showed up in Hollywood brought various bits of memorabilia in hopes of snagging an autograph: One teenage girl had a worn LP copy of his first solo album, 1970's "McCartney." Others leaned across metal police barricades with copies of "A Hard Day's Night," "Beatles for Sale," "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," books, photos and a plethora of other items.
Only one succeeded: On his way back into the Capitol building, McCartney spotted Fullerton 18-year-old Paul Madariaga holding up a Hofner bass guitar like the one McCartney first popularized nearly half a century ago when he was just out of his teens. McCartney gave a nod and the instrument was handed to him. The world’s most famous bassist hoisted it aloft, as he often does at the end of his concerts, scribbled his name across the front with a hastily supplied Sharpie and passed it back to Madariaga.
Score one for the kid.
More stars along the Walk of Fame
Album review: Paul McCartney's 'Kisses on the Bottom'
Paul McCartney's MusiCares tribute gala slated for Feb. 10
-- Randy Lewis
Top photo: Paul McCartney showing off the plaque he received at his Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremony Thursday. Credit: Randy Lewis / Los Angeles Times.
Center photo: Neil and Pegi Young at Paul McCartney's star ceremony in Hollywood. Credit: Randy Lewis / Los Angeles Times.
Bottom photo: Paul McCartney's new star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, on Vine Street immediately outside Capitol Records. Credit: Randy Lewis / Los Angeles Times.