Top Ten musical politicians

Written by ToYouell on 15 May 2013 in Culture
Playing an instrument or singing gives politicians another string to their bows. Total Politics looks back at their top ten musical moments

This article is from the May 2013 issue of Total Politics

As PM, it’s only natural that Cameron is photographed playing the largest instrument possible, even if it’s in Burma. As Boris often says to Cameron about his political career, “Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee”.

Ted Heath tickles the ivories

Prime minister ‘Teddy’ Heath owed his education to an organ scholarship at Balliol College and continued to perform and conduct throughout his political career. He later released a recording of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto – available on Amazon for £3.50. Kermit the frog, at least, is captivated.

Blair rocks out

While studying at Oxford, Tony Blair was the lead singer of a short-lived band called the Ugly Rumours. Another band member told the Guardian it “wasn’t exactly the Rolling Stones”. The erstwhile PM later found another place to hone his performance skills – the Labour Party…

Michael Bloomberg on trumpet

Choosing not to endorse a presidential candidate, Bloomberg opts to play his own tune – but who wouldn’t when they’re the seventh-richest person in the US? Here he plays, I Ain’t Got Nothing but the Blues (and $27bn) at the Department of Cultural Affairs Mayor’s Award.

Gordon Brown… with headphones

Brown doesn’t play an instrument, but that didn’t stop him engaging with London’s yoof in this well-staged photo. His relationship with Blair was illuminated by his appearance on Desert Island Discs when he chose Kirsty MacColl’s cover of Days: “You’re with me every single day, believe me...”

Bill Clinton on sax

Clinton had considered life as a saxophone player, but settled for politics. In Some Like it Hot, Sugar Kane Kowalczyk (Marilyn Monroe) said that you should do anything to avoid unfaithful sax players. Out of shot, Hillary beats off a pack of 22-year-old interns…

Boris Johnson on guitar

BoJo shows he’s right behind the prime minister when grasping a classic mayoral photo op busking here at London Bridge station. You can almost see the noble expression of restraint on his face as he resists playing Bob Marley hit I Shot the Sheriff...

Ed Balls on drums

This photo was taken when Balls was secretary of state for children, school and families, and had to frequently introduce himself as “Ed Balls” to groups of school kids. He insists he’s banging the drum for the other Ed...

Margaret Thatcher, forte on the piano

This photo was taken in 1970, the same year that Thatcher became education secretary. Here, she’s shown teaching her 17-year-old twins, Carol and Mark, to pursue wholesome extra-curricular activities. They followed that example all the way to the Australian rainforest and Equatorial Guinea…

Condoleezza Rice’s transporting piano

Rice is a classically trained pianist. She once said playing “is not relaxing… but it is transporting”. Her favourite opera, Modest Mussorgsky’s Khovanshchina, concerns Peter the Great’s attempts to impose Western institutions on Russia. Lucky she found time to learn fluent Russian amid all that piano-playing, eh.

Tags: Issue 58, Musical politicians, Politicians with instruments, Top Ten

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