Elton John gave a dazzling performance on the White House lawn during a musical evening hosted by President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, but it was the Rocket Man himself who became speechless and “flabbergasted” after a big surprise.

The “That’s What Friends Are For” singer brought his majesty and virtuous singing chords to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Friday night and belted out some of his classics, including “Tiny Dancer,” “Rocket Man” and “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” The iconic songs set the mood, as the Bidens took the stage with Elton and surprised him with the National Humanities Medal.

Elton’s face said it all. He was so shocked at the honour he covered his face and his jaw dropped. He shook Biden’s hand before the president asked the Major to read the citation that honoured the singer “for moving our souls with his powerful voice and one of the defining song books of all time. An enduring icon and advocate with absolute courage, who found purpose to challenge convention, shatter stigma and advance the simple truth — that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”

Halfway through the citation, Elton grabbed the First Lady’s hand before he lowered his head to receive the medal.

“I just said to the First Lady, ‘I’m never flabbergasted’ but I’m flabbergasted,” Elton said immediately after the honour. “I’m humbled and honoured by this incredible award from the United States of America. I will treasure this so much and will make me double my efforts to make sure this disease goes away. America’s kindness to me as a musician is second to none, but in the war against AIDS and HIV it’s even bigger and I can’t thank you enough. I’m really, really emotional about this. Thank you.”

AP Photo/Susan Walsh
AP Photo/Susan Walsh
AP Photo/Susan Walsh
AP Photo/Susan Walsh
AP Photo/Susan Walsh
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

In a statement to ET, Elton elaborated on what the medal means to him.

“It’s been emotional for me to be recognized for the achievements of the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Since I founded the Foundation at my kitchen table in Atlanta 30 years ago, I made a commitment not to leave anyone behind and will continue on this mission,” he said. “We are striving for a future where people of all races, ethnicities, nationalities, sexual orientations, and gender identities have the opportunity to live free from AIDS, stigma, injustice and maltreatment – and I’m so grateful recognition likes this brings us a step closer to making that a reality.”

The singer launched the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992 with a mission to end the AIDS epidemic. His husband, David Furnish and who also attended the event, is the foundation’s chairman.


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