It’s hard to imagine Queen Elizabeth II digging the Velvet Underground, though we can perhaps see her tapping her toe to Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Nevertheless, both the Velvet Underground’s John Cale and CSN’s Graham Nash (pictured) were awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, or an OBE, on this year’s Queens Birthday Honours List. The recipients were announced Saturday, June 12.
Cale, 68, a Welsh native, and Nash, who is English, both moved to the US in the 1960s. Cale, a viola player and pianist, joined the New York-based Velvet Underground as bassist and enjoyed high times during the art rock band’s days as Andy Warhol’s protégées. Since leaving the Velvet Underground in 1968, reportedly due to a falling out with band co-founder Lou Reed, Cale enjoyed an acclaimed solo career and produced records for such artists as Patti Smith.
Nash was already a star before he moved to California in 1968 and joined up with David Crosby and Stephen Stills. His former band, the Hollies, which was named for their hero Buddy Holly, enjoyed Top 10 hits with ‘Here I Go Again’ and ‘Just One Look.’ The pop group was a regular TV fixture on the BBC’s longstanding chart show, ‘Top of the Pops.’
Following the award, Nash, who is now a US citizen, told the BBC News, “Everything I learned about being a decent human being I learned in England and I am grateful to be honored by the country of my birth.”
An OBE is given for notable service to the United Kingdom in many fields, including entertainment. Though an incredible honor, it is not one of the highest service awards and does not allow the honoree to use the title Sir, as would a knighthood.