Aussie Singer Joins Ranks of Entertainer-Politicians Peter Garrett has joined the ranks of musicians who have used their fame to get into politics. The former lead singer of the rock group Midnight Oil is the environment, heritage and arts minister in Australia's new government.
NPR logo

Aussie Singer Joins Ranks of Entertainer-Politicians

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Aussie Singer Joins Ranks of Entertainer-Politicians


This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

The candy store paupers lie to the shareholders. They're crossing their fingers. They pay the truth makers. The balance sheet is breaking up the sky. Well, the man who wrote those words, Peter Garrett, former lead singer with Midnight Oil, has become environment heritage and arts minister in Australia's new government. Here's a sample of his resume.

(Soundbite of song "Beds are Burning")

Mr. PETER GARRETT (Minister for Environment, Heritage and Arts; Lead Singer, Midnight Oil): (Singing) Out where the river broke, the bloodwood and the desert oak.

BLOCK: Peter Garrett has long been an environmental activist and was elected to the Australian parliament three years ago. He joins the ranks of other entertainers who've used music and lyrics and some guitar chops to catapult into office.

SIEGEL: As far back as Frederick the Great, power and power chords have intermingled. Frederick was a musician with some talent - good, maybe not great. He had, to his credit, four symphonies and 100 sonatas.

BLOCK: In contemporary politics, Martha Reeves of Martha and the Vandellas sits on the Detroit City Council.

(Soundbite of song "Dancing in the Streets")

Ms. MARTHA REEVES (Councilwoman, Detroit, Lead Singer of Martha and the Vandellas): (Singing) Calling out around the world are you ready for a brand-new beat?

SIEGEL: And there's Jerry Butler.

(Soundbite of song "For Your Precious Love")

Mr. JERRY BUTLER (Cook County Board Commissioner; Musician): (Singing) Your precious love means more to me than any love could ever be.

BLOCK: Known as The Ice Man of rhythm and blues from his work with The Impressions, Butler now has also performed since the 1980s as a Cook County Board Commissioner in Illinois. Popular musicians have rocketed to Capitol Hill too.

(Soundbite of song "Still The One")

Representative JOHN HALL (Democrat, New York; Lead Singer, Orleans): (Singing) You are still the one that makes me shout, still the one that I dream about. We're still having fun and you're still the one.

SIEGEL: John Hall is a congressman from New York's 19th congressional district. He cofounded the 1970s band Orleans. But he was not the first pop star to make the transition.

(Soundbite of song "The Beat Goes On")

Mr. SONNY BONO (Former California Congressman; Musician): (Singing) The mini skirts, the current thing, uh huh.

BLOCK: The late Sonny Bono served as congressman from California until his death in a ski accident. In any case, the ranks of politicians propelled into office from the charts to quorum calls is slim.

Mr. BONO: (Singing) And the beat goes on.

SIEGEL: And we're not counting the full members of this category. The late Illinois Senator Paul Simon who never told us about "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," and father and son U.S. representatives from Kentucky named Carl Perkins who may not even have worn blue suede shoes.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.