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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 14:21 GMT
Kerry's electric rock'n'roll past
John Kerry and Moby
Senator Kerry has also played guitar with the musician Moby

First, we had Bill Clinton on saxophone. Now, prepare yourselves for Senator John Kerry on bass guitar.

Yes, more than 40 years ago, the man who hopes to be the Democratic nominee for US president played bass in a rock'n'roll band.

The band was forged in 1961 while Mr Kerry was a pupil at the exclusive St Paul's prep school in New Hampshire.

They called themselves The Electras, and recorded their only album in the school's basement.

It is the first rock album ever recorded by a serious candidate for the Oval Office, according to the Washington Post.

A copy, one of only 500, recently sold on eBay in the US for over $2,500.

Attractive decision

"We put the band together to pursue the possibility of getting a little closer to the opposite sex," the band's piano player Jack Radcliffe tells the BBC.

"They weren't tearing our clothes off, but we enjoyed it, absolutely," Mr Kerry told the Washington Post.

They're weren't tearing our clothes off, but we enjoyed it, absolutely
Senator and bass player
John Kerry

Critics say the music, mostly instrumentals, has a raw, primal rock 'n' roll quality, in the tradition of music by Eddie Cochran and surf bands like the Ventures.

As the only member of the Electras to have pursued a career in the music industry, Mr Radcliffe is in no doubt that Mr Kerry chose the right profession.

"Most of us are Republicans, and most of us would prefer to teach George Bush how to play the bass rather than use John," he jokes in an interview with the World Service's The World Today programme.

Chance discovery

Mr Kerry's musical past was discovered last September by record label owner Erik Lindgren and one of his assistants, who recognised the presidential hopeful in the band's photograph.

Mr Lindgren cornered Senator Kerry at a fundraiser in Boston last year, where Mr Kerry appeared on stage to play a Bruce Springsteen song on guitar.

"He lunged towards me with a big smile and grabbed the album and he just said 'Where did you find this? This must be a collector's item'," says Mr Lindgren.

Mr Lindgren does not believes this latest revelation will harm the candidate's chances.

"Kerry in the States has a reputation as being a little stiff in public, but now with this thing being exposed - hey, John Kerry was in a rock'n'roll band, he's one of us."

But if Mr Kerry is tempted to give up the day job on the back of his belated musical success, he should remember that like politics, the music industry is a tough business.

Another copy of the album is for sale on eBay, and after three days it has failed to excite a single bid.


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