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Queen’s Brian May and Sade Producer Robin Millar Knighted in U.K. New Year Honours List

The annual tradition bestows titles upon individuals in recognition of their work and this year is presented in the name of King Charles for the first time.

Queen guitarist Brian May and record producer Robin Millar top the list of music industry professionals recognized in the 2023 New Year Honours List, an annual tradition celebrating the achievements and service of exceptional individuals from across the United Kingdom.

Brian May, who co-founded British rock band Queen in 1970 and continues to tour and record with the group, receives a knighthood for services to music and his charity work. May was previously made Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2005.

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Becoming a knight or a dame is one of the highest-ranking awards in the British honours system, followed by CBE, the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) and Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). A knighthood or damehood entitles recipients to use the title of sir or dame if they wish to do so. The Honours List awardees are presented by the reigning monarch, currently King Charles III

Record producer and businessman Millar is also made a knight for services to music and charity in King Charles’ first New Year Honours List, announced Friday (Dec. 30).

Best known for his work with Sade, Millar produced and arranged the band’s multi-million selling 1984 debut Diamond Life and its acclaimed follow-up Promise, which  topped the Billboard 200 for two weeks in February 1986. Other artists that Millar has produced include Randy Crawford, Everything But The Girl, Fine Young Cannibals and Big Country.

In 2014, Millar and Jeremy Lascelles co-founded Blue Raincoat Music, an artist management company, music publishing company and record label that runs offices in London, New York and Los Angeles. Blue Raincoat purchased Chrysalis Records in 2016, relaunching the imprint as a frontline label four years later.

Millar, who has been registered blind since the age of 16 and is chair of U.K. disability charity Scope, serves as executive group chairman and chief creative officer of Blue Raincoat Chrysalis Group.

Other music professionals recognized in the 2023 New Year Honours List include Geoff Taylor, outgoing chief executive of U.K. labels trade body BPI, and BPI chair YolanDa Brown.

Geoff Taylor, YolanDa Brown, BPI
Geoff Taylor and YolanDa Brown Courtesy BPI

Taylor, who exits the London-based organization Saturday (Dec. 31) after 15 years as chief executive, is awarded an MBE in recognition of his services to music. In a statement Taylor said the honour “means a great deal to me” and dedicated the award to the “whole BPI team, who work every day to protect and value music.”

Brown, who was appointed BPI chair in July, has been awarded an OBE for services to music, music education and broadcasting.

The same title is bestowed upon Peter Leathem, CEO of U.K. collecting society PPL since 2012. In a statement, Leathem called being awarded an OBE for his services to the music industry “an enormous honour.”

Other music honourees include composer George Fenton, who receives a CBE award.

In total, 1,107 people are recognized on the 2023 New Year Honours List, spanning all walks of life. The awarding of honours is overseen by the U.K. Cabinet Office with nominations submitted by either government departments or members of the public. A selection committee then produces a list of honourees, which is submitted to the British monarch, King Charles, for approval.