MOSCOW, Dec. 13, 2010 -- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has cultivated a macho image with consistent action man stunts like shirtless horseback riding, co-piloting a firefighting plane and sparring with the national judo team (he's a black belt).
The weekend, he showed his artistic side, getting up on stage to plink away on a piano and sing Fats Domino's "Blueberry Hill" in accented English.
The scene was a children's charity dinner in Putin's native St. Petersburg. The audience was dotted with the likes of Sharon Stone, Kevin Costner and Goldie Hawn. The crowd cheered him on, swaying and clapping as Putin sang. Stone flashed a peace sign.
Egged on by the evening's emcee, Putin took the stage, saying, "Like an overwhelming majority of people, I can neither sing nor play but I very much like doing it," according to Reuters.
Putin initially took a seat at the piano, carefully playing the opening notes to "Blueberry Hill" before heading over to the microphone.
The prime minister's spokesman said Putin learned the lyrics to the song in his English class and takes music lessons when he has time.
Putin's crooning is his latest in a series of appearances boosting his soft side. Last week he invited the 5-year-old winner of the nationwide competition to name his new Bulgarian Shepherd puppy over to his official residence to meet the pooch. Buffy, as it's now known, was a gift from Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov.
The cuddly moments are in contrast to -- and fewer than -- a steady stream of images in recent years of Putin doing manly things, like swimming in Siberian rivers or stalking a tiger with a tranquilizer gun.
In July, Putin rode a Harley Davidson trike and more recently, he donned a helmet and gloves to drive a Formula One race car outside of St. Petersburg.