On this great day of awards etc etc etc, it’s quite interesting to look at the list of people who turned down the gong…so if you ever wondered why Paul is a sir and George and Ringo are not and why there is the ultimate rebel Sir Mick an no Sir Keef then look no further…

David Bowie, musician (in 2003; had previously declined appointment as CBE in 2000)
Albert Finney, actor (in 2000, had previously declined appointment as CBE in 1980)
David Hockney, CH, RA artist (in 1990; later accepted appointment as CH in 1997)
Aldous Huxley, author (in 1959)
L. S. Lowry, artist (in 1968; had previously declined appointment as OBE in 1955 and CBE in 1961; later declined appointment as CH in 1972 and 1976; holds the record for the most honours declined)
Humphrey Lyttelton, jazz musician and broadcaster (in 1995)
Malcolm McDowell, actor (in 1995; had previously declined appointment as CBE in 1984).
Harold Pinter, CH, CBE playwright (later accepted appointment as CH)
Alastair Sim, CBE, actor
Ralph Vaughan Williams, OM composer (later accepted appointment as OM)
William Butler Yeats, Irish poet (in 1915)

Turned down CBE
George Melly, musician, artist and raconteur (in 2001)
Dame Helen Mirren, DBE, actress (in 1996; later accepted appointment as DBE in 2003)
Keith Richards, guitarist (The Rolling Stones)
Evelyn Waugh, novelist (in 1959)
Paul Weller, musician (in 2007)

turned down OBE
Hattie Jacques, actress and comedienne (in the 1970s)
Benjamin Zephaniah, poet, who said: “I get angry when I hear the word ’empire’; it reminds me of slavery, it reminds me of thousands of years of brutality, it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised.”[21]
Hank Marvin, guitarist (The Shadows)

sent MBE back
John Lennon, musician (returned MBE insignia in 1969; returned with letter that read, “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.”)

According to the text of The Adventure of the Three Garridebs, Sherlock Holmes was offered a knighthood and refused it.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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