George Harrison Turned Down OBE, Wanted to Be Knighted Instead

Tuesday, 24 Dec 2013 08:19 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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The Beatles' George Harrison felt "insulted" by being offered one of England's highest honors before his death and subsequently turned it down, the country's government documents revealed.

Harrison, who died of cancer in 2001, was selected to the Order of the British Empire on New Year's Day in 2000, according to the Daily Mail.

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Beatles' member Paul McCartney had been knighted in 1997 and Harrison considered anything less a snub.

"Whoever it was who decided to offer him the OBE and not the knighthood was extraordinarily insensitive," journalist Ray Connolly, who knew the Beatles, told the Daily Mail. "George would have felt insulted – and with very good reason."

The wording of the order was insensitive, Harrison reportedly felt, as it failed to cite his creative contributions to the band. Harrison, who wrote "Here Comes The Sun" and "Something," always  felt his songwriting was overshadowed by McCartney and bandmate John Lennon's songwriting.

"He was a member of a band that many people would say is the best thing that Britain has ever produced, and possibly the best in the world, The Beatles," the Daily Mail reported the order  read.

The country's Department for Culture, Media and Sport suggested the honor for Harrison for his musical career. Britain's Freedom of Information laws allowed media outlets like The Daily Mail to discover Harrison's rejection of the OBE.

Other English musicians receiving honorary knighthood along with McCartney include Cliff Richard, David Bowie, Tom Jones, Bob Geldof, Bono, Elton John and Mick Jagger. Singer Shirley Bassey earned a "dame" title in 1990.

Other musicians, like Annie Lenox, Roger Daltry, The Bee Gees, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Sting, and Robert Plant, have received the Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Britain's highest honor before Knighthood.

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