Elton John had a plan to perform at the White House before he called it quits – he says – for good.
The world-renowned rock pianist rocked up from the South Lawn Friday night for a performance he called “A Night When Hope and History Rhyme,” a reference to a poem by Irishman Seamus Heaney that President Biden often quotes.
Eager viewers could tune into the White House live stream to watch the performance.
It was John’s first White House concert since appearing with Stevie Wonder at a 1998 state dinner honoring British Prime Minister Tony Blair. At the age of 75, John is on a farewell tour after performing for more than 50 years.
A giant outdoor stage and stage had been set up on the White House lawn for the show. The 2,000-person guest list included teachers, nurses, frontline workers and LGBTQ advocates, as well as civil rights activist Ruby Bridges and Jeanne White-Ginder, an AIDS activist and mother of Ryan White, who died of complications related to with AIDS in 1990. The president gave remarks before John took the stage.
The show came about after A+E Networks and the History Channel, which pays the bill, asked the White House and John if they would be open to a partnership honoring “everyday history makers” as well as John himself, according to with people familiar with the discussions who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning.
The president and first lady are big fans. Biden wrote in a 2017 memoir that he sang “Crocodile Rock” to his two young boys as he walked them to school and again later to son Bo before he died of cancer at 46.
“I started singing the lyrics to Beau, quietly, so it was just the two of us,” Mr Biden wrote. “Bo didn’t open his eyes, but I could see through my tears that he was smiling.”
Mr. Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, was also a fan of John’s. He tried to get John to perform at his inauguration in 2017, but John refused, saying he didn’t think it was appropriate for a Brit to play at the inauguration of an American president.
The White House insisted that Friday’s show was not an attempt to troll Trump, who has praised John in his books and has often featured John’s music — including “Rocket Man” and “Tiny Dancer” — on charts. playing it before the rally all these years. Trump called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “rocket man” for his record of missile tests.
Sir Elton—he wasby Queen Elizabeth II — has sold over 300 million records worldwide, played over 4,000 concerts in 80 countries and recorded one of the best-selling singles of all time, the 1997 reworking of “Candle In The Wind” for to praise Princess Diana, which sold 33 million copies.