14 Celebrities Who Turned Down Major Awards, Including Oscars And Grammys

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The English musician accepted, along with his bandmates, an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) medal, but he returned it in 1969 “in 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.”

The “Nigeria-Biafra thing” he mentioned in the letters he sent to Queen Elizabeth, the Prime Minister, and Central Chancery refers to the Nigerian Civil War. 

Meanwhile, “Cold Turkey” is a song that John wrote in 1969, released as a single by the Plastic Ono Band, the group he formed with his wife, Yoko Ono.

Later on, the singer-songwriter explained why he had initially accepted the honor.

“Before you get an MBE, the Palace writes to you to ask if you’re going to accept it because you’re not supposed to reject it publicly, and they sound you out first. 

“I chucked the letter in with all the fan-mail, until Brian [Epstein, the Beatles’ manager] asked me if I had it. He and a few other people persuaded me that it was in our interests to take it, and it was hypocritical of me to accept it.”


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