Saxophones were an informal trademark for America's first rock 'n' roll president, but a new exhibit at Bill Clinton's (search) library shows a much broader range of musical connections, from Bono to B.B. King, even from an Eritrean lute to a Czech recorder.
Beginning Saturday, visitors at the Clinton Presidential Library (search) will get to see a reproduction of parts of a White House music room built for Clinton, samples from his eclectic CD collection and video of him playing in the Arkansas All-State Band as a teenager.
The Clinton Library is closing in on its first-year goal of 300,000 visitors in just over six months. During a preview tour of the "World of Music" exhibit Thursday, library director David Alsobrook said it's important to keep things fresh with rotating exhibits.
Musical memorabilia in the new exhibit include a recorder Clinton received from former Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel and a kerar, a lute-like instrument, presented by the people of Eritrea. Presidential guests often gave Clinton saxophones, a handful of which are part of the library's permanent exhibit.
Kaki Hockersmith of Little Rock, who redesigned the Oval Office for Clinton, put together the White House music room as a surprise Christmas present from wife Hillary.
The design tied in the neoclassical White House architecture with a charcoal leather music studio look that Hockersmith called "real jazzy and masculine."
The show offers a feast of memorabilia for music lovers, including Bono's handwritten lyrics to "The Hands That Built America," a song the politically active rocker sang at the library's dedication in November. The exhibit also includes a larger-than-life painting of King and one of his "Lucille" guitars.
A whole wall is dedicated to Clinton's childhood idol, Elvis Presley, and includes stamps from the African nation of Chad depicting an imaginary jam session featuring Elvis and a saxophone-toting Clinton.
A Beatles album cover signed by each of the Fab Four was donated by the late George Harrison's sister, Louise.
The "World of Music" exhibit at Clinton's museum and library archives runs through Dec. 31.