|The first rock stars to be honored by the Queen |
It's been 52 years since the Beatles became the first rock stars to receive royal honors, So how many British rock stars have actually been knighted.? Ten rock stars can rightfully be called Sir. Included among the 'Sir's' are Sir Paul McCartney , Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Cliff Richard, Sir Tom Jones Sir Elton John , Sir Rod Stewart, Sir George Ivan Morrison (Van Morrison) , Sir Ray Davies Sir Richard Starkey and now Sir Barry Gibb. Being knighted is the highest honor, but many people (most years as many as a 1000 people ) receive lesser honors each year, so a good number of famous rock and pop stars now have been honored by the realm.
|Prince Charles knights Barry Gibb (AP)|
As we stated above, the Beatles were given the lesser honor of MBE's in 1965, but John Lennon and George Harrison had the misfortune of dying before anybody could get round to knighting them. Lennon famously gave back his MBE in 1969 with a note saying “Your majesty, I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against, "Cold Turkey" slipping down the charts. With love, John Lennon.”
Recently, it was revealed that before he died, George Harrison was offered a promotion from MBE to CBE, but declined because,he would have preferred a knighthood (perhaps so he could be on par with Paul McCartney) Oddly enough, Sir George Martin, the Beatles producer was actually knighted putting him above George, John and Ringo was only this year promoted to knighthood.. Perhaps being only the " fifth Beatle" is not such a bad thing.
|Jimmy Page was given a OBE for helping Brazilian children|
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There is a Sir Mick Jagger, but no Sir Keith Richards. None of the other Rolling Stones have received any honors at all. Keith made fun of Jagger for accepting the knighthood.
What about Bono and Bob Geldof who are sometimes called "Sir". These men are Irishman have received honorary knighthoods for their charity work. Bono was given his honor in 2007.
Bob Geldof received his honor back in 1986. Geldof is entitled to use the post-nominal letters "KBE" but, as he is not a citizen of a Commonwealth realm, he is precluded from using the title "Sir". Regardless, the nickname "Sir Bob" has stuck and media reports continue to refer to him as "Sir Bob Geldof".
Many of the other notable figures of the British rock scene have been given lesser honors. then Sir CBE's , LVO's , MBE's etc, but these folks were not given the honorific of "Sir". You don't have to be a Sir to be are whole slew of lesser honors that the British government can bestow that allow you to put initials after name, but no Sir or Dame before it.
Among those receiving lesser honors are:
Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Dave Gilmour, (but not Roger Walters) , Brian May (but not the rest of Queen ) , Roger Daltrey (but not Pete Townshend) , Eric Clapton (CBE), the late Robin and Maurice Gibb, Albert Hammond, Peter Asher, Gerry Marsden, Joan Armatrading, Annie Lennox, Mark Knopfler ,Graham Nash (OBE) , Rod Stewart, Phil Collins (who is a LVO), Adele, Kate Bush (CBE) , and Gordon "Sting" Sumner, Damon Albarn of Blur (OBE), Tim and Neil Finn, Jools Holland of Squeeze (OBE) -though Jools is more famous for his TV work. Folk rock legends Ashley Hutchings(MBE) and Richard Thompson of Fairport Convention, Maddy Prior MBE , Martin Carthy MBE, and Shirley Collins MBE.
David Bowie actually declined honors, as have Paul Weller, and Hank Marvin of the Shadows.
Who else hasn't been given honours? Ozzy Osbourne, Jeff Beck, Elvis Costello, Robbie Williams, , Keith Richard, Peter Gabriel, Pete Townshend, Charlie Watts, Steve Winwood, Roger Waters, Peter Noone (of Herman's Hermits) and John Paul Jones are among the most noted rich stars who haven't been honored for services to the realm. As far as I know, no British punk star or new waver has been honored. Also no American rock performers have received honors since they are are not eligible for British honours.
Among the dead rock British rock stars who were never given honors are George Michael, Freddie Mercury, Brian Jones, Keith Moon, Nick Drake, John Entwistle, John Bonham, and Sandy Denny.
What about Popular Music and Musical theater types?
Lionel Bart, Cameron McIntosh, Andrew Lloyd Webber (he's a Lord!) and Tim Rice have been knighted. You can call them "Sir". Elaine Paige has been honored as well.
There have been no female British " rock" stars who have been made Dames (the highest form of title for British females.) Perhaps that's because there have been very few British female rock stars. The late Dusty Springfield was given a OBE, and as we noted above Joan Armatrading, Kate Bush, and Annie Lennox and Adele have been given lesser honors than a Dame-ship. In 2017, Posh Spice, Victoria Beckham was given a OBE!
Pop singers Shirley Bassey ! and Julie Andrews were made Dames, Olivia Newton John was made a CBE.
What about other countries honors?
Gordon Lightfoot, Paul Anka, and Joni Mitchell have received the Order of Canada.
Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder are among the many people who awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Reggae stars Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff have received the Jamaican order of merit.
Why are rock stars given honors? Many reasons are given, certainly it's true that groups like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles all have done wonders for the British economy, Many of the people knighted have been artistically important. Doing charity work helps too, but clearly being a wonderful person is not a requirement , or Mick Jagger would not have been knighted. Also surprisingly, being a tax exile seems to have not kept stars from being honored.
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