Monday, April 17, 2017

How many rock stars have been knighted? (Updated 2017)

The first rock stars to be honored by the Queen

In 2017 Ray Davies (CBE)  was knighted for services to music, Victoria Beckham (more for her fashion and charity work),  and  Marty Wilde also released honours.

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.? Actually,only eight 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) and now Sir Ray Davies. Being knighted  is  the highest honor, but many people  (this year about 1000) receive lesser honors each year, so  a good number of famous rock and pop  stars now have been honored by the realm.  

 Sir Paul McCartney,but no Sir Richard Starkey, nor Sir George Harrison, or Sir John Lennon. As we stated above, the Beatles were given the lesser honor of MBE's in 1965, but only Paul was eventually  knighted.   Of course, the John and George  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.” Ringo never has been promoted from MBE.

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 Ringo, George, and John. Perhaps being only the " fifth Beatle"  is not such a bad thing.
Jimmy Page was given a OBE for helping Brazilian children

Back to our story....
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.

Tom Jones was  knighted -the only Welsh knighted rocker. Finally, there is a Sir Elton John, who actually has done considerable charity work.

However there 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.   Many   of the other notable figures of the British rock scene have  been given lesser honors. CBE's , LVO's , MBE's etc, but these folks were not given the honorific of "Sir".

Bono and Bob Geldof, both Irishman have received honorary  knighthoods for their charity work, and
Bono is now filthy rich too, after the Facebook IPO. Geldof is rich too, because of his work as a TV producer, not because of his work in music.

Bob Geldof has received many awards for his fund-raising work, including an honorary knighthood (as Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire) from Queen Elizabeth II, 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".

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), Barry, the late  Robin and Maurice Gibb, Albert Hammond, 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, Shirley Collins MBE, have also received honors.

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, George Michael, 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. Needless to say 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 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".

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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