On Friday night, Sir Elton made a mixed statement when he played an ebullient six-piano recital for 2,000 people on the South Lawn of the White House at the invitation of President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden.
Elton John ‘surprised’ and in tears after Biden surprises him with medal
“I don’t know what to say. What a junkyard!” laughed John, wearing a gleaming black blazer and staring through red glasses at the floodlight post on the south porch towering above him, under the glass Play under a panel tent while members of the Marine Corps band spread out down the steps in red dresses to the Truman balcony. “I’ve played in a few places before and it’s always been beautiful, but that’s probably the icing on the cake.”
Tears and joy were more important than politics when the Bidens said they planned to hold a concert for the American people called “A Night of Hope and Rhythm of History.” At the end of the evening, the president surprised John with the National Humanities Medal, and the singer shed tears, but it felt like the pinnacle of the larger message needed to celebrate the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s 30th anniversary and bipartisan unity. Ending this disease by 2030 – as John and the UN say, that’s our goal.
John’s last performance at the White House was at a 1998 Clinton administration state dinner in honor of British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Based on video of the event and interviews with attendees (media access is limited), John was very excited as he played under the glass curtain, and the audience surrounded his stage in all directions. He covered several of his biggest hits: “Your Song,” “Little Dancer,” “Rocketman,” “Don’t Let the Sun Down on Me,” “Crocodile Rock,” and “I’m Still Standing.”
Teachers, first responders and LGBTQ activists made up the largest segment of the crowd and were all allowed to bring more people. They were the first people John thanked, long before he acknowledged the Bidens: “They’re my heroes.”
Other guests included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his husband Chasten, and Attorney General Merrick Garland — not to mention actresses Anna Kendrick and John’s Best friend Billie Jean King. For those who recognize her, civil rights advocate Ruby Bridges, who was one of the first black children to be integrated into New Orleans’ all-white public school system when she was 6 years old, may be the most impressive standout there .
Washington, D.C.-based writer and LGBTQ activist Charlotte Kramer was pleasantly surprised by the invitation and found herself emotional. “I wouldn’t even say bipartisan, it felt more nonpartisan,” she told The Washington Post. “Everyone is there because they care about people living with HIV and AIDS. Of course, they want to see Elton John perform.” The White House has been focused on inviting members of disadvantaged communities, Cramer said, and the crowd feels very diverse — racially. Diversity, political diversity, even gender diversity. At one point, she added, “I’m not the only trans person at these events, and it’s great to see.”
As appealing as the narrative of Dark Brandon tweeting to his ex by paying homage to his favorite musician, it’s not an incident John instigated, as a form of advanced trolling. The conversation began Saturday with invitations to a “History Talk” symposium in Constitution Hall, featuring Serena Williams and former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, among others, sponsored by The History Channel and A&E, The latter also sponsored the concert. But that set date was also the day that John performed the concert in the National Park district,” so it morphed into an opportunity to perform on the South Lawn of the White House the night before. And, you know, this It’s a very beautiful setting,” John’s husband and manager David Furnish said on Sunday.
“Elton likes the idea that even though President Biden is in the White House, the entire evening is seen as a nonpartisan event,” Furnish continued, “but it’s a nonpartisan event that’s really talking about shared humanity, through Solidarity and charity to heal.”
In the past, though, John did have a friendly relationship with Trump. He attended the ex-president’s third wedding, and Trump even went around telling people that he had gotten John’s inauguration. Trump often uses “little dancers” at his rallies, despite John asking him not to. He also nicknamed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man.”
Instead, at the concert, John acknowledged a different Republican, former first lady Laura Bush, who came with daughter Jenna Bush Hager and her children, said the Bush administration The creation of the Presidential Emergency Program for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, “was the most incredible thing,” adding that “we would never have gotten this far without the money that President Bush’s administration gave us.” He even Shout out to Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.) As a supporter of the fight against AIDS, John said, “To his credit, he has made it through.”
When John came up with his playlist, Furnish said he just wanted to make sure to sing one song: “Crocodile Rock.” Years ago, when he and then-Vice President Biden were on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” the same night, Biden told him that, as a single father, he used to drive with his two sons in the car and sing that song. Later, he and John visited President Barack Obama at the White House, Furnish said, not knowing at the time that Biden’s son Boyle was in a coma after a terminal illness from brain cancer.
Biden had asked John to meet with his staff, “I think that said a lot to him,” Furnish said. As Furnish remembers being told, Biden went to the hospital to tell the unconscious Beau that Elton John came to the White House that day and he sang “Gator Rock” to him. “He didn’t regain consciousness. But we were told he laughed, and you know, that must have triggered something,” Furnish said. “So we knew it was a real journey song, a real journey for the president. So it was important for Elton to include it in the series.”
Before he started writing “Don’t Let the Sun Fall On Me,” John also admitted that Ryan White’s mother, Jenny White-Kinder, who died of AIDS-related complications in 1990, had To be a symbol of the cruelty endured by the victims of the epidemic. The Whites were John’s gateway to becoming an AIDS activist. He’d seen them, “I fell in love with them, watching them, they faced such terrible hostility,” he said on stage. “However, when Ryan died in the hospital in Indianapolis, the last week of his life, and I went to help Jenny with something humble, there was no hatred. There was no hatred. There was only forgiveness.”
Recalling those days, White-Kinder told The Washington Post on Sunday: “It was a very heart-warming experience to see someone give so much and not want any attention.” Six months after White’s death , John entered rehab for cocaine and alcohol addiction and sobered up. On stage Friday, he said the family “saved my life.
The moment Biden awarded John the National Humanities Medal was a complete surprise, not only for John, but Furnish, who is usually omniscient as his manager. John has said he was completely “stunned” and burst into tears when he was quoted.
“Elton had absolutely no idea he was going to get a medal. It’s very rare to see Elton being speechless about anything, and when that happened, he was completely dumbfounded,” Furnish said. “And everyone felt the love.”