A good time is had 'Jammin' with the Prez'

WE ALWAYS knew this presidency business was all a fake. Bill Clinton really wants to be a rock star. The 13-month slog to the White House was just a vehicle for the global fame that was eluding him. And there was a danger that his brother, Roger, might make it to the Grammy Awards before him.

At 11.15pm on Wednesday, around 12 hours after taking the oath of office, the President, accompanied by a purple-dressed, sequinned Hillary, dropped in at the New York-Washington inaugural ball and there, on stage with the E Street Band, he blew his own cover - on the saxophone.

Even his entrance, by a side- door of the cavernous National Guard Armoury, in Washington's south-east quarter, was that of a pop idol. A contingent of the Marine Corps Band attempted to give it a touch of presidential pomp with a round of 'Hail to the Chief'. Not a note was audible, though, as the guests screamed and flashbulbs popped.

The couple mounted the stage and Mr Clinton, sounding like he was campaigning again, began by talking. 'I hope y'all feel partly responsible for making this historic day happen,' he said. Loud whoops. Then he turned to Hillary, who looked like something between a fairy queen and a figure-skating champion, and he asked: 'Does Hillary look great tonight, or what?' More whoops.

At a previous stop on a night that took him to all 11 inaugural ball venues, Mr Clinton had been presented with a tenor sax by singer Ben E King. That was where he first succumbed to the pleadings that would follow him all night - 'Play for us]' And so he blew a few bars of 'Your Mama Don't Dance . . .'

His performance with the E Street Band, the group that once accompanied Bruce Springsteen, was, by all accounts, his most accomplished - a two-minute rendition of a rocking version of James Brown's 'Night Train'. He was hot, and almost all of us - average age perhaps 40 - jived and kicked our heels. Only the most aged and distinguished, Nelson Mandela among them, stayed on their seats to sway.

The total round of balls, with vans of journalists, security men and a man chained to a suitcase carrying the nuclear codes trailing behind, took six hours. Early on, Chelsea was left at the seriously hip MTV ball at the capital's Convention Centre.

The final stop was at the Washington Hilton, where he moistened the reed again, accompanying singer and guitarist, Jimmy Buffet. Mr Clinton told the crowd: 'I know Jimmy Buffet. Jimmy Buffet's a friend of mine. And I'm no Jimmy Buffet.' And Hillary revealed her musical secret; she joined in on the tambourine.

Though the night did not end until 2.15am, clearly the First Couple were having fun. Four years ago, George and Barbara sped round the balls given in their honour, giving each an average of four minutes.

Yesterday morning, the Clintons were facing more adoration. To symbolise a promise of open government, the White House was thrown open to a group of 2,500 'ordinary folk', pre-selected by a post-card lottery. The President was meant to shake each of their hands in the Diplomatic Reception Room, above the Oval Office, but things soon ran out of control as thousands more turned up, desperate to come in. Finally, Mr Clinton came out and joined battle in the crowd. A thousand hands reached out and a few made sacred contact.

But for those few minutes on Wednesday night, Bill Clinton had been ours - all 4,000 of us in the Armoury Hall. That Grammy may not be in the post but in that brief riff, he made us sway and did not drop a note. Flushed and more pop-eyed than usual, Mr Clinton finally lowered his instrument and the E Street's Clarence Clemons leant slowly over to the microphone and growled: 'Jammin' with the Prez.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea