Elton John was on a plan to perform at the White House before the world-famous rock pianist hangs up – he says – for good.
John was passing the South Lawn on Friday night for a show he’s calling “A Night When Hope and History Rhyme,” a reference to a poem by Irishman Seamus Heaney that President Joe Biden often quotes.
It will be John’s first show at the White House since he performed with Stevie Wonder at a 1998 state dinner in honor of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. At 75, John is on a farewell tour after performing for over 50 years.
A giant outdoor tent and stage were set up on the White House lawn for the show. The 2,000-person guest list includes teachers, nurses, frontline workers and LGBTQ advocates, as well as civil rights advocate Ruby Bridges and Jeanne White-Ginder, an AIDS activist and mother of Ryan White, who died of related complications. to AIDS in 1990. The president was expected to comment.
The show came about after A+E Networks and the History Channel, which are footing the bill, asked the White House and John if they would be willing to collaborate to honor “everyday story makers” as well as John himself, according to people familiar with the discussions who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning.
It’s unclear whether the show will air in addition to the live performance, though eager viewers can tune in to the White House live stream to hear the president’s comments at the very least. John has worked with A+E in the past at their global HIV/AIDS charity, the Elton John Foundation, which has raised over $525 million to fight the virus worldwide.
The History Channel is hosting a new episode of its “HistoryTalks” series in Washington on Saturday, and John will be in town playing Nationals Park as part of his final tour. He opened the final leg of his North American farewell series in Philadelphia in July.
The president and first lady are big fans. Biden wrote in a 2017 memoir about singing “Crocodile Rock” to his two sons as he drove them to school, and again later to son Beau before he died of cancer at age 46.
“I started singing Beau’s lyrics, softly, so only the two of us could hear,” Biden wrote. “Beau didn’t open his eyes, but I could see through my own tears that he was smiling.”
Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump was also a fan of John. 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 perform at an American president’s inauguration.
The White House insisted that Friday’s concert was not an effort to troll Trump, who has praised John in his books and has often featured John’s music — including “Rocket Man” and “Tiny Dancer” — on his playlists. pre-rally over the years. Trump has dubbed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a “rocket man” for his missile test record.
Sir Elton – he was knighted in 1998 by Queen Elizabeth II – has sold over 300 million records worldwide, played over 4,000 shows in 80 countries and recorded one of the best-selling singles of all time, his 1997 retelling. from “Candle In The Wind”. ” to praise Princess Diana, who sold 33 million copies.