Should you turn down a knighthood?

In the words of the great Marc Bolan “Get It On, Bang A Gong, Get It On…”

There is something not quite right about saying Sir Paul McCartney or Sir Mick Jagger- especially in the case of Sir Mick Jagger, the knighthood sits uneasily upon those skinny shoulders especially when his co writer of all those hits, Keef Richards, is still plain old Keef. Sir Keef even has a better ring to it. What did Keef do wrong? Take the same amount of drugs as everyone else but more publicly?

Is it wrong to become a sir? Does it matter any more? And what is a knight anyway? Do you get to open village fetes? Do you have to sword fight when you get one? And more importantly do you get any free stuff?

Of course no one is foolish enough to believe that rock n roll and its associated pretend rebel cultures are some sort of anti establishment racket any more. Those days are long gone when the sixties generation quickly showed their true colours by making their millions soundtracking the urban inner cities whilst saving up for their country piles and acceptances by the fox hunting set. That’s the way it goes. We got the songs, they got the gongs.

The news that Danny Boyle turned down a knighthood has got us thinking on the merits of such awards. Of course it’s great that he got the recognition for his Olympic opening ceremony but we had already all recognised him and his creative brilliance and his turning down of Sirdom is fitting. If only the knights were all this cool and they were given out for good stuff but there is some really shady company in knighthood country that waters down the merits of the award.

It’s sometimes said that the list of people who have turned down a knighthood is far, far cooler than the list of people who accepted. This may or may not be true and the acceptors may be tainted by the mere act of acceptance. Henry Moore, Stephen Hawkings, Graham Green, Albert Finney, Alistair Sim all turned down knighthoods amongst many others whilst David Bowie turned down and MBE although is still widely recognised as a dame.

It’s easy to sit here and sneer at the notion of knights and gongs and it does seem weird and archaic but when you are never going to get offered one then you can eternally damn them. And damn them we will!

On the other hand it can’t be long before Johnny Rotten gets a knighthood for being a cheeky punk rock scamp…





also read this open letter to Danny Boyle

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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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