During Queen Elizabeth II’s more than 70-year reign, dozens of major music industry names were honored under the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, the order of chivalry designed to reward British individuals who have contributed to the arts and sciences, charity and public service in the U.K. This has included both famous and behind-the-scenes players in the industry, ranging from Elton John to Universal Music Group chairman Lucian Grainge.
The five classes of the Order of the British Empire, in descending order of importance, are: Knight and Dame Grand Cross (GBE), Knight and Dame Commander (KBE and DBE, respectively), Commander (CBE), Officer (OBE) and Member (MBE).
Not all music luminaries who have been offered these titles have accepted them. David Bowie famously turned down both a CBE and a knighthood (GBE) in 2000 and 2003, respectively. Of the latter honor, the icon reportedly 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.”
Other high-profile music professionals who have declined honors over the years include John Lydon, aka Sex Pistols‘ Johnny Rotten (MBE); singer-songwriter Paul Weller (CBE); jazz musician Humphrey Lyttelton (knighthood); and George Harrison, who turned down an OBE three years after his Beatles bandmate Paul McCartney was knighted.
But overall, the list of music industry notables who have accepted these honors far outweighs those who turned them down. In the wake of the Queen’s death on Thursday (Sept. 8) at age 96, we’ve compiled a list of those individuals who did show up to receive their titles — and in turn earned the right to place a “Sir,” “Dame” or other designation alongside their names.