Every Musician Who Was Knighted By Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II wasn't exactly what we would refer to as "hip." Born in 1926, Elizabeth came of age during World War II and by the time the Beatles were storming England she was busy reigning over the United Kingdom. She didn't have time to take part in pop culture, but that's okay because she had people to keep her up to date with the who/what/when/where/why of the artists of the era.
By the time Groovy era artists were reaching a respectable age in the late '90s she was able to score a couple of cool points by knighting some of the biggest artists of the '60s and '70s.
In 1998, the Rocket Man became the first openly gay knight in the British empire. While speaking with the press, John said that the queen had some sweet words for him as he received his honor:
Her Majesty said she hoped being here today didn’t interfere too much with my arrangements. She said I must be terribly busy... but this is not the sort of thing you put off.
Macca was knighted by QE II on March 11, 1997 for his "services to music" when he was 54-years-old. It's unclear if she tried to revoke McCartney's status after hearing "FourFiveSeconds." When asked how his bandmates felt about his knighting McCartney answered, "They call me ‘Your Holiness.'"
Knighted in 1995, this British crooner reveals that during the ceremony he was unable to string together a coherent sentence due to nerves and that he still cringes when thinking about the embarrassing moment. He said:
I don't know what happened to me, it must have been the nerves. The band started playing Congratulations and I couldn't talk, and afterwards I said to my sisters, 'The Queen is probably thinking why didn't we knight someone who could speak English.'
This Welsh singer was knighted in 2006, but he says that when he received the news he thought that had to start being a respectable member of society. He said:
When they said, 'You’re being considered for knighthood,' I thought, 'My god, do I have to change anything? Do I have to change my ways? Have I got to straighten up?' I didn’t know what that means. So it was a little difficult to accept the fact that it was happening.
Even though he received British knighthood status at the behest of Queen Elizabeth for his services to the music industry and his humanitarian work, Bono was actually knighted in a ceremony in Dublin. That's right, the queen didn't make the trip to Ireland for the guy who sang Vertigo. Uno, dos, tres, disappointment.
In spite of the fact that Bob Geldof has done a lot of important charity work in Africa, he's still Irish so that means that he can only be granted an honorary knighthood. He received the status in 1986, which allows him all of the rights of a normal knight aside from being called "Sir."
When Mick Jagger was nominated for knighthood England was in the middle of Tony Blair's "Cool Britannia" era so it makes since that he would be pretty great press to make one of the bad boys of the swinging '60s a night. QE 2 didn't agree. Rather than attend Jagger's knighting, the queen skipped the ceremony to officially wait for surgery.
Of course the woman who sang "Goldfinger" was knighted, wouldn't you give those pipes the highest honor in British society. In 1999 Bassey received a DBE for services to entertainment, but that's not the last time she crossed paths with the Queen. Bassey has performed for the royal family at the Party at the Palace in 2002, as well as the Queen's Golden Jubilee, the Diamond Jubilee, and the Queen's 90th birthday party in 2016.
Once again proving that he's the coolest guy in the room, David Bowie turned down two British honors twice in the 2000s. First, he turned down the CBE in 2000 before turning down the knighthood in 2003. He later told The Sun:
I would never have any intention of accepting anything like that. "I seriously don't know what it's for. It's not what I spent my life working for.
In 2005, The Who's Roger Daltrey received a CBE for his services to music, the entertainment industry, and charity. After collecting his honor from the queen at Buckingham Palace he told the press:
She said I got this for my music as well as charity work but I don't think she's a rock and roll fan. She'd probably fall off her podium if she heard The Who's songs. I still have criticisms of the establishment but the Queen is an exceptional woman. I think she's amazing.
The Bee Gees
In 2005, the two surviving members of the Bee Gees picked up their CBE from Prince Charles in a tear-filled ceremony. Barry Gibb told the press:
It's bittersweet. It would have been wonderful for all three of us to be here. We have mixed feelings. Knowing Mo, this would have been right up his alley.
Rod Stewart not only has a CBE, but in 2016 he received full knighthood status at the queen's birthday honors. The Duke of Cambridge performed the actual ceremony but we'd like to think that the Queen had a copy of "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" in her chambers.
Clapton received his CBE back in 2004, and following the event at Buckingham Palace he described the honor as the "icing on the cake" of his long career. But what about that time he almost replaced George in The Beatles?
In 2003, Sting was honored with a CBE by the queen alongside Roger Moore, easily the most British of the very British Bonds. Sting said of the knighthood:
I'm surprised and flattered to receive this honor… If my mum and dad were still here they would be made up.
Okay so Robert Plant wasn't exactly knighted by the queen herself, but he did receive his CBE in 2009 in an event helmed by Prince Charles. It is kind of cool that the now King of England made the God of Rock a knighthood.