British pop legend Elton John is set to rock the White House on Friday night, performing for President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden in a South Lawn performance that the White House says will “celebrate the unifying and healing power of the music”.
Biden said his songs held deep meaning for him and John, CNN reported, asked the White House if he could perform.
The event, dubbed “A Night When Hope and History Rhyme”, is part of a collaboration with A&E Networks and The History Channel, according to the White House. The title of the event is a quote from Irish poet Seamus Heaney that Biden uses frequently in his speeches and remarks, including when he accepted the Democratic nomination in 2020.
The event, in front of Cabinet secretaries and 2,000 guests, is to honor John’s life and work, according to the White House, as well as to commemorate “everyday story makers in the audience, including including teachers, nurses, frontline workers, mental health advocates, students, LGBTQ+ advocates and more.”
Biden and his wife will make remarks.
John has a gig scheduled for Saturday night at nearby Nationals Park, as part of his “Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour”. Dates for more than 300 world tours are a farewell to his fans around the world, according to the “Crocodile Rock” singer, who is part of a music career spanning nearly 50 years.
This is not the first time the singer has visited the White House. In 1998 President Bill Clinton invited him to perform at a state dinner for then British Prime Minister Tony Blair with Stevie Wonder.
Biden said John’s music comforted his family in their most painful times.
In his 2017 memoir, “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose,” Biden recounted visiting his son Beau in the hospital one night shortly before Beau died of a brain cancer. John was at the White House earlier in the day, Biden wrote.
When he arrived at Beau’s bedside that night, Biden said, he sang “Crocodile Rock” to Beau – just as he had done to Beau and his other son, Hunter, many years before, after that Biden’s wife and daughter were killed in a car crash.
“The words came back like it was yesterday, but after the first few lines I started to get emotional and wasn’t sure I could go on,” Biden wrote. “Beau didn’t open his eyes, but I could see through my own tears that he was smiling. So I gathered myself together and carried on, as far as I remember the song.”
In addition to his music, John has also been praised for his work as an AIDS activist, having testified several times on Capitol Hill in support of AIDS funding. To date, according to its website, the Elton John AIDS Foundation has raised more than $600 million since its inception in 1992.
John also has another presidential fan – former President Donald Trump who reportedly wanted the Grammy winner to perform at his inauguration, but John refused.
Trump frequently plays John’s music at his rallies and sadly reacted to news of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death as “Tiny Dancer” blared in the background.
Trump even dubbed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “Little Rocket Man” in what appears to be a reference to John’s song, “Rocket Man.” The singer also performed at Trump’s 2005 wedding to his current wife, Melania.