Stairway to `Mayhem:’ Obama’s Homage to Generational Icons

President Barack Obama, acknowledging that he was “nowhere close to being the main attraction” on stage the other night, honored a cast of artists at the annual Kennedy Center awards at the White House, introducing “some extraordinary people who have no business being on the same stage together:”

Blues guitarist Buddy Guy, late-night comic David Letterman, actor Dustin Hoffman, ballerina Natalia Makarova and “all three living members of Led Zeppelin in one place.”

Guy, who is said to have strung his first guitar from a window screen; Hoffman, who won that life-altering part in “The Graduate” over a young and taller Robert Redford; Letterman, “who’s no Carson” yet has matched Johnny’s 30-year record on late-night TV; the dancer; and then the band.

“We were trying to work the “Stairway to Heaven” metaphor — it didn’t work,” Obama said of his award presentation.

“The Zeppelin legacy lives on,” the president said, honoring his guests in the East Room of the White House. “Of course, these guys also redefined the rock ‘n roll lifestyle… There was some hotel rooms trashed, and mayhem all around, so it’s fitting that we’re doing this in a room with windows that are three inches thick, and Secret Service all around. So guys, settle down. These paintings are very valuable.”

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