Numerous prominent figures in the music industry have received awards from the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, an order of chivalry created to honour British citizens who have made contributions to the arts, sciences, charity and public service in the United Kingdom, during Queen Elizabeth II’s more than 70-year reign. This has involved both well-known and unsung members of the business, from Elton John, Adele to the head of Universal Music Group, Lucian Grainge.
The Order of the British Empire has five grades: Knight and Dame Grand Cross (GBE), Knight and Dame Commander (KBE and DBE, respectively), Commander (CBE), Officer (OBE) and Member (MBE). These classes are listed in descending order of importance.
Not all famous musicians who were offered these titles took them. In 2000 and 2003, David Bowie notably declined both a CBE and a knighthood (GBE) respectively. The superstar reportedly told The Sun on the latter honour that he never had the intention of accepting anything like that and he does not understand why such things happen. He ended his statement saying that it’s not the reason he spent his life working hard.
Other well-known musicians who have declined honours over the years include jazz musician, Humphrey Lyttelton (knighthood), John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols (MBE), singer-songwriter Paul Weller (CBE) and George Harrison, who turned down an OBE three years after his Beatles bandmate, Paul McCartney was knighted.
However, the number of notable members of the music industry who have accepted these awards dwarfs the number of people who have declined them.