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Rockers With Presidents

It used to be pretty rare to find photographs of rockers with presidents but, as the above gallery shows, that’s changing. And not just because of political alignments.

A number of these pairings run along straight factional lines – it’s no surprise that Gene Simmons was hanging out with George W. Bush, right? – but, other times, rockers prove themselves to be equal-opportunity shutterbugs. U2‘s frontman Bono, for instance, has been photographed with standard-bearers from both parties. Politics had nothing to do with appearing on Donald Trump’s TV show, either.

Our oldest shot may be the most famous, as we find Richard Nixon flanked by Elvis Presley on Dec. 21, 1970. Among the things the King discussed that day were the Beatles, whom he had described as “a real force for anti-American spirit.” Ironically, George Harrison was later photographed with Nixon’s successor, Gerald Ford.

Back then, however, these visits only went so far in bridging the generation gap. Harrison was reportedly asked if Ford liked his work, after the two exchanged buttons on Dec. 13, 1974, in the White House. “No,” Harrison replied, “he’s not all that familiar with my music.”

The founding of the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song had a profound impact. In 2007, President Barack Obama began leading a recognition ceremony in which composers and performers were honored for lifetime contributions to music, vastly increasing the number of photo ops for rockers.

Along the way, some artists (think Fleetwood Mac and Bill Clinton, or the Beach Boys and Ronald Reagan) became inextricably linked with certain administrations. But all of them came away with a treasured piece of Americana – a picture with the leader of the free world.

Click through the above gallery for a collection of rockers with presidents.

Next: Best Songs About America

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