Here We Go: Elton John’s Recurring Role in Trump’s Presidency

FILE- In this Thursday, May 26, 2016, file photo, musician Elton John performs during a show in Tel Aviv. Elton John is giving filmmakers a chance to create music videos for his 1970s hits that were released before music videos were popular. The English singer announced Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, in celebration of he and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin’s 50th anniversary, that he’s launching a competition for aspiring video creators to make music videos for “Rocket Man,” “Tiny Dancer” and “Bennie and the Jets.” (AP Photo/Dan Balilty, File)

The email was cordial, warm and deferential.

“Thank you so much for the extremely kind invitation to play at your inauguration,” wrote one of President Trump’s favorite musicians, Sir Elton John. “I have given it at lot of thought, and as a British National I don’t feel that it’s appropriate for me to play at the inauguration of an American President. Please accept my apologies.”

Mr. Trump had been hoping Mr. John would croon him into the presidency. He had gone so far as to tell people it was happening even though Mr. John had not yet agreed to such a performance.

The organizers of Mr. Trump’s inauguration had been struggling to find notable musicians to perform at the coming festivities, often considered a high honor. Barack Obama had been able to draw the likes of Aretha Franklin and Beyoncé.

Mr. John, whom Mr. Trump considered something of a friend, joined other celebrities in declining the opportunity to perform.

But for Mr. Trump, the rejection from Mr. John was probably particularly tough to swallow. In multiple books, Mr. Trump had praised Mr. John’s talent and drive. In 2005, Mr. Trump had arranged for Mr. John to perform at his third wedding, to Melania Knauss. Eleven years later, Mr. John sent his carefully-worded email passing on an encore performance, this time at Mr. Trump’s inauguration.

“Tiny Dancer,” one of Mr. John’s most well-known songs, still rings out at the president’s rallies, part of a playlist that Mr. Trump personally selects. The president nicknamed the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, “Little Rocket Man,” a homage to the song by Mr. John and a reference to the strongman’s missile tests. When the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, went to a meeting with Mr. Kim, he came bearing an Elton John record. And aides say the president has seen the singer’s biopic, “Rocketman.”

Still, Mr. John’s music has become the soundtrack not just of the Trump rallies but of the Trump presidency itself — a persistent aural reminder of the president’s interest in showmanship and celebrity and his belief that he is never being given proper credit by the news media for what he views as his successes.

While previous presidents have generally measured their victories against those of their predecessors, Mr. Trump prefers comparing himself against an international superstar known for his flashy style.

Mr. Trump was giddy when his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, told the crowd at a Manchester, N.H., rally last month that the attendance numbers for the event had bested Mr. John’s ticket sales in the same venue.

“Great news! Tonight, we broke the all-time attendance record previously held by Elton John at #SNHUArena in Manchester, New Hampshire!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

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SOURCE: The New York Times, Maggie Haberman