Former American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken made the news recently when he won a congressional primary in North Carolina. While he still has an uphill battle against a longtime incumbent, if Aiken wins he would not be the first recording artist with a top 40 hit to hold a congressional seat, he would be at least the third.

The most notable of the group is the late Sonny Bono, who as a member of Sonny & Cher, scored many chart toppers, including the iconic hit “I Got You Babe.” Like Aiken, Bono was also a television personality.

There is another musician of note who recently held a congressional seat, his name is not as well-known as Sonny Bono or Clay Aiken, but he has no shortage of hits. That congressional representative was John Hall, a New York Congressman from 2007-2011.

Hall was a founding member of the rock band Orleans, best known for the hits “Dance With Me” and “Still the One.” After Hall’s tenure in congress, he returned to Orleans, who are still actively performing.

Hall’s music career was not limited to his time in Orleans. For many years Hall was an in demand session musician and songwriter for a number of prominent musicians including Janis Joplin, Seals & Crofts and Bonnie Raitt.

After his first stint in Orleans, Hall pursued a solo career and he became an activist in the No Nukes movement, and was a co-founder of the Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) along with other prominent anti-nuke musicians like Jackson Browne, Graham Nash and Bonnie Raitt.

The groups major accomplishment was hosting a series of all-star benefit concerts at Madison Square Garden in September of 1979. The concerts produced an album entitled No Nukes: The Muse Concerts for a Non-Nuclear Future and a concert film simply entitled No Nukes.

At the time, the album contained the only commercially available recording of a live performance from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Hall appeared on two tracks, a solo song entitled “Plutonium is Forever” and “Power” with The Doobie Brothers and James Taylor. Hall wrote both of the songs.

After the No Nukes concert Hall performed with the John Hall Band and began his entrance into local politics with run for the Ulster County Legislature and the Saugerties Board of Education.

Hall made the news in 2004 when he publicly criticized George Bush’s campaign for using “Still the One” at campaign rallies. It was just a few years later when Hall won a seat in congress for New York’s 19th district, and served under George W. Bush.

After only two terms, Nan Hayworth defeated Hall, and he returned to his music career as a solo artist and a member of Orleans.

In August of 2011 Hall returned to the stage with some familiar faces and for a longtime cause, an all-star concert in California to benefit victims of the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima Japan and promote renewable energy. Hall shared the stage with Browne, Nash and Raitt and others. He wrote the song, “I Told You So” just for the occasion.

 

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