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December 19, 2018

Some of the most bizarre White House visits by musicians before Kanye West and Kid Rock

October 11, 2018
Elvis Presley posed for this photo with President Nixon in the Oval Office in 1970. (MPI / Getty Images)

Kanye West and Kid Rock are making noise.

The musicians — who are both set to meet with President Trump on Thursday — are the latest raucous artists to make a trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.




Here are some of the most bizarre visits musicians have made to the West Wing.

Elvis Presley meets with President Nixon

The King of Rock and Roll shook hands and posed for a photo with President Nixon during a somewhat impromptu visit to the Oval Office in December 1970.

Presley had been eager to obtain a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge for his badge collection and was approved to meet with Nixon shortly after he arrived in Washington D.C., as recounted in a piece by Smithsonian Magazine.

“I will be here for as long as it takes to get the credentials of a federal agent,” Presley wrote in a letter to Nixon at the time.

After the two had a conversation inside the White House, Nixon asked his aide Egil (Bud) Krogh to get the “Hound Dog” singer the badge he so desired.

Presley and Nixon snapped their photo together inside the Oval Office, and the picture remains an eye-popping piece of pop-culture history nearly five decades letter.

Lady Bird Johnson (left), seen here with Katherine Peden (center) and Eartha Kitt, who made a bold statement about the Vietnam War during a 1968 luncheon.
Lady Bird Johnson (left), seen here with Katherine Peden (center) and Eartha Kitt, who made a bold statement about the Vietnam War during a 1968 luncheon. (Bettmann / Bettmann Archive)

Eartha Kitt makes bold statement to Lady Bird Johnson

Kitt — known for her portrayal of TV’s Catwoman in 1967 and a music career that included singing the original version of “Santa Baby” — sparked controversy in 1968 when she spoke out about the military draft during a luncheon at the White House.

First Lady Johnson had hosted the event to discuss ways to combat crime in America, and when she asked the room to speak up on their opinions on the matter, Kitt didn’t hold back.

“Boys I know across the nation feel it doesn’t pay to be a good guy,” Kitt said at the time. “They figure with a record they don’t have to go off to Vietnam. You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. They rebel in the street. They will take pot and they will get high. They don’t want to go to school because they’re going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam.”

The moment left Johnson stunned, though she denied in a diary excerpt that she cried after Kitt’s address. Kitt’s performing career suffered as a result of her statement.

Michael Jackso received an award from the Reagans in 1984,
Michael Jackso received an award from the Reagans in 1984, (Scott Stewart / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Michael Jackson receives award from President Reagan

The King of Pop was honored at the White House in May 1984 after he allowed his hit song “Beat It” to be featured in a campaign against drunk driving.




Jackson, who was photographed standing alongside President Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan during a seminar on the White House’s south lawn, received the Presidential Public Safety Communication Award that day, but it was Reagan’s speech that stole the show.

Reagan earned a laugh from Jackson and the crowd when he worked a few cheeky references to Jackson’s music into his opening address.

“Well, isn’t this a thriller?” Reagan began.

“I hope you’ll forgive me, but we have quite a few young folks in the White House who all wanted me to give you the same message,” he continued. “They said to tell Michael, ‘Please give some TLC to the PYTs.’”

George Bush, seen here with Bono in 2002, admitted he didn't know which Bono was coming to the White House the first time he came.
George Bush, seen here with Bono in 2002, admitted he didn’t know which Bono was coming to the White House the first time he came. (RON EDMONDS / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

George W. Bush mistakes which Bono is visiting

The 43rd President of the United States admitted he wasn’t the one who suggested they bring in U2 frontman Bono for a visit during his time in office.

“Somebody walked in and said ‘Bono’s coming. You do know who he is?’” Bush recalled on HBO and Vice’s collaboration documentary “Countdown to Zero” about the battle against HIV and AIDS. “And then I looked at them and said, ‘Sure, he’s married to Cher.”

The Bono that Bush was referring to — Sony Bono, the former singing partner and husband of Cher — died in 1998, however. Bush took office in 2001.

Bush and Bono continued to work together over the years in the effort to fight AIDS.




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