LONDON — A Beatle and a Bee Gee are among the celebrated citizens who have been selected for knighthood and other awards given in the name of Britain’s monarch.
Britain’s Cabinet Office publishes a list of the people receiving honours for merit, service or bravery twice a year: just before New Year’s Eve, and on the Saturday in June when Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday is officially observed.
The New Year’s Honors List made public late Friday revealed that Beatles drummer Ringo Starr and Barry Gibb, the oldest and last surviving of the brothers who made up the pop group the Bee Gees, have been tapped as knights.
The process starts with nominations from the public, which first are reviewed by a specialist committee and then by a main honours committee. The nominations are then sent to the prime minister before the various honours are bestowed by the queen or senior royals.
The children’s author celebrated for War Horse, a politician who fought in vain to keep Britain in the European Union, and many others, including renowned researchers, volunteers and actors, also made the honours list.
A HARD DAY’S KNIGHT
The future knight is listed as Richard Starkey, a Liverpudlian being honoured for services to music, but the world knows him as Ringo Starr, drummer for one of the most famous bands in the history of recorded music.
He missed the Beatles’ hardscrabble years, when they had to scramble for a gig to get by, joining John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison just before they rocketed to stardom.
There were flashier drummers in the rock pantheon — Keith Moon and Ginger Baker come to mind — but Starr fit the band’s approach perfectly, playing with uncanny style and imagination as the band’s music branched out from its early American rock influences. The drum parts in Ticket to Ride, Rain,” and Strawberry Fields Forever are all seen as masterful contributions to timeless songs.
Starr also had a way of mangling words that pleased Lennon, who used Starr’s offhand quips to develop the songs A Hard Day’s Night and Tomorrow Never Knows.
“It’s great!” Starr said of his knighthood in a brief message Friday. “It’s an honour and a pleasure to be considered and acknowledged for my music and my charity work, both of which I love. Peace and love. Ringo.”
Barry Gibb, the last surviving member of the Bee Gees, said he was dedicating his knighthood to his late bandmates, twin brothers Robin Gibb, who died in 2012, and Maurice Gibb, who died in 2003.
“I want to acknowledge how responsible my brothers are for this honour,” said Gibb, 71. “It is as much theirs as it is mine.”
He was recognized for services to music and charity.
“This is a moment in life to be treasured and never forgotten,” he said.
The Bee Gees formed in the late 1950s and enjoyed two distinct periods of commercial success: first as a Beatles-influenced pop band and later as leading avatars of the disco movement, particularly on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack that achieved global fame. The band enjoyed phenomenal success in the disco era of the 1970s, consistently topping the singles charts and racking up huge album sales.
MY KNIGHTHOOD FOR MY HORSE!
Author Michael Morpurgo says he is giving his knighthood to Joey, the fictional horse at the centre of his book and play War Horse.
Morpurgo, 74, has written many treasured children’s books, but it is his 1982 book War Horse and the wildly successful play that followed that brought him worldwide fame.
The story, set at the start of the First World War, chronicles the friendship between a young boy and his horse, Joey. It was staged using life-size horse puppets that enchanted audiences. Morpurgo is being knighted for his charitable works as well as for his writing, but he says the honour is really about War Horse and the impact of the production staged by the National Theatre.
“There was never a knight that has owed so much to his horse as this one — and in fact, we will give the knighthood to Joey and call him Sir Joey,” said Morpurgo.
He lost his seat in Parliament earlier this year. He campaigned hard to keep Britain in the European Union, only to see Britons turn the other way in the 2016 referendum. He resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats after the party’s poor performance in the 2015 election.
The past few years have been rough for former British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, but he gets a handsome consolation prize in the form of a knighthood recognizing his service to politics.