Roger Daltrey performs on the Hill for ceremony honoring Winston Churchill

October 30, 2013

Wondering why Roger Daltrey was at the U.S. Capitol to sing during a dedication ceremony of Winston Churchill’s bust?

Join the club — we don’t get it, either. Daltrey, frontman of The Who, was tapped to perform a two-song concert Wednesday honoring the former prime minister because…he’s from England, too?

Or maybe John Boehner is really into “Pinball Wizard”? The House Speaker introduced the ’60s musician as “rock royalty,” and “an icon on both sides of the Atlantic.” Daltrey, 69, looked sharp in a suit and dark glasses, but didn’t say a word — just performed between speeches about Churchill’s historic legacy.

About two years ago, Boehner authored a resolution to add an image of the legendary British leader to the Capitol, honoring the 70th anniversary of Churchill’s address to Congress in December 1941 and the enduring relationship between the United States and United Kingdom. Since it took awhile to commission and complete the bust, donated by the Churchill Centre, the dedication ceremony didn’t happen until this year. Secretary of State John Kerry talked about Churchill’s many attributes as a leader, and that he reminded everyone “sometimes laughter is precisely the prescription for the ills of any political system.”

The bust of Churchill. (Nikki Kahn/TWP)
The bust of Churchill. (Nikki Kahn/TWP)

The bust (which appears to be scowling — or as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, has a “commanding gaze,”) will remain on the first floor of the Capitol, in a space near what Boehner called “the British steps” and “from this day on forever forward will be known as ‘Freedom Foyer.’”

Several hundred in the well-behaved audience — including other congressional leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell — listened as Daltrey, backed by a choir, keyboardist and guitar player, crooned a special arrangement of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.” (It was Daltrey’s choice, to represent the special relationship between the two countries.) After a few more speeches, he got up and sang The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”

Like we said, it seemed totally random. But hey, there are worse ways to spend a Wednesday morning on the Hill. Paging Kathleen Sebelius.


John Boehner,  John Kerry, Harry Reid and Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republican Leader of the Senate, listen to the National Anthem during ceremony.(Nikki Kahn/TWP)
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Roxanne Roberts | October 30, 2013