Sir Richard or Sir Ringo? Richard Starkey, better known to the world as Ringo Starr and long considered by many the greatest rock drummer ever, will be knighted in this year’s New Year’s honors, it was officially announced in the UK on Friday. Starr, who is 77, will be knighted for “services to music,” according to the official listing of New Year’s Honours recipients. The honor comes 20 years after his fellow Beatle Paul McCartney became a “Sir” in 1997.
Said Starr to the BBC: “It’s great! It’s an honor and a pleasure to be considered and acknowledged for my music and my charity work, both of which I love. Peace and love.”
Also being honored in Barry Gibb, co-founder of the BeeGees with his late siblings Robin and Maurice. “This is a moment in life to be treasured and never forgotten,” the 71-year-old told the UK’s Press Association. “I want to acknowledge how responsible my brothers are for this honor. It is as much theirs as it is mine.”
Soft Cell singer Marc Almond will also receive the OBE. He tweeted his excitement soon after the announcement.
Receiving damehood is Darcey Bussell, a judge on the hit British television show “Strictly Come Dancing” and a former dancer with the Royal Ballet.
Starr’s longtime recording engineer Bruce Sugar posted a statement on Facebook shortly after the announcement was made official, writing: “Sir Richard is a constant inspiration for how he lives his life, showing us how to age gracefully in this youth oriented business and how he carries himself with a healthy dose of humility and gratitude and his tireless promotion of peace,love, and goodwill.”
Renowned Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn tells Variety, “More than half a century on, what the Beatles did continues to be magnificent, so it feels right that Ringo has joined Paul in having this significant award in his homeland. (Next, I’m hoping Paul will be elevated to the peerage, to become Lord Allerton.)”
The New Year’s honors are an annual tradition in the UK recognizing men and women in a wide range of fields for their achievements to Britain. These include politics, science, health, education, business and community service. When the Beatles were given the MBE (Order of the British Empire) in 1965, several previous recipients returned their awards as a protest. John Lennon later did a protest of his own in 1969, sending his back accompanied by a letter, which read, “Your Majesty, I am returning my MBE as a protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against ‘Cold Turkey’ slipping down the charts. It was signed “With Love, John Lennon.” Underneath his signature was typed “John Lennon of Bag.”
McCartney later shared via social media: “Huge congrats Sir Ringo! Sir Richard Starkey has a nice ring to it. Best drummer, best pal! X Paul.”
Other well-known musicians knighted recently include Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Elton John and Ray Davies.