Roger Daltrey Keeps Shirt On at Churchill Ceremony

Posted October 30, 2013 at 1:05pm

“Who better to represent rock royalty than Roger Daltrey … an icon on both sides of the Atlantic,” Speaker John A. Boehner said Wednesday as he introduced The Who co-founder, who performed in Statuary Hall at the dedication ceremony for a bust of Winston Churchill.

The Ohio Republican showed a bit of giddiness in introducing Daltrey, who went on to sing Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me,” perhaps a reference to the “special relationship” of the United States and Great Britain.

For anyone wondering whether Daltrey would add some rock ‘n’ roll to what are typically dry affairs, it must have been disappointing. Although some of the speakers at the ceremony, such as Secretary of State John Kerry, made mention of Churchill’s legendary humor and irreverence, most everyone made sure to note how very serious it all was, and that Churchill indeed saved the world, etc. Daltrey’s gospel-like rendition of the American pop standby was as tame as it gets.

Boehner made bringing a bust of the former British prime minister to the Capitol one of his first priorities as speaker. During that debate, he called the British politician “the best friend America ever had.”

The ceremony brought a less somber mood to Statuary Hall than the memorial service for former Speaker Thomas S. Foley on Tuesday, but installing a bust of the British Bulldog has not been without controversy.

In July 2012, the White House stepped in to dispel a rumor that President Barack Obama removed a bust of Churchill from the Oval Office and sent it back to the British Embassy.

“This is 100 percent false,” then-Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer assured the doubters at the time. “The bust is still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room.” He posted a picture (see below) to prove it.

President Barack Obama shows Prime Minister David Cameron a bust of Churchill in the private residence of the White House. (Courtesy Pete Souza)

Rest assured, this is not the same bust.

Churchill joins a small collection of foreign leaders who have had their likeness depicted in the Capitol, including French military officer Marquis de Lafayette and Swedish Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg.

Daltrey followed up “Stand by Me” with The Who classic “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” We’ll leave it to everyone else out there to determine if that was some kind of political statement.