Birthday Honours 2012: Gary Barlow becomes an OBE
Story by Jack Foley
TAKE That star Gary Barlow has – as widely predicted – been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
The singer, who played a key part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations by masterminding and performing in the star-studded Jubilee concert in front of Buckingham Palace, becomes an OBE.
In a statement, Barlow said he felt “very privileged” to be in the company of “so many brilliant people” who had also become an OBE.
He added: “Growing up, I never dreamt that one day I’d be getting one myself. I enjoy every minute of the work I do, with a lot of it being a reward in itself, so for somebody to decide I should get recognised for that is just amazing. My family are very proud.”
In a glittering 20-year career, Barlow is simultaneously known as a singer, songwriter, fundraiser and X-Factor judge.
He started out playing the northern club circuit as a solo singer for less than £20 a show before finding global fame as a key member of Take That.
Since then, he has written 11 UK No.1 singles over the past three decades, had three solo chart topping singles and two number one albums.
He is a six-time recipient of the prestigious Ivor Novello award and has written with the likes of Charlotte Church, Lily Allen, Sir Elton John and Dame Shirley Bassey.
Although Take That did split in 1996, they reformed in 2006, minus Robbie Williams, and enjoyed sell out stadium tour, breaking box office records for subsequent tours (which included the return of Williams).
But as much as he remains one of the UK’s most significant song-writers and supporters of the arts, his honour also recognises the tireless charity work he has also become immersed in.
Barlow has organised and been involved in numerous fundraising projects for a host of different charities, including a sponsored climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2009 with eight other celebrities (including Cheryl Cole and Ronan Keating), which raised millions of pounds for Comic Relief.
He was later awarded the prestigious Blue Peter Gold Badge for outstanding achievements and inspiring children to realise their talents.
But his work didn’t stop there. In response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake Barlow recorded a star-studded cover version of REM’s Everybody Hurts, enlisting some of the world’s most famous music stars, and donated all of the proceeds to the cause.
The record sold 453,000 copies in its first week, making it the fastest-selling charity record of the 21st Century in Britain.
In December 2011, he performed two solo gigs – his first in more than 10 years – at the Royal Albert Hall and raised money for the Prince’s Trust and The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry.
While he also helped to organise the Children In Need Rocks gig in Manchester at the end of 2011, where he performed alongside Lady Gaga and Coldplay.
As lead organiser for the Queen’s recent 86th birthday and Diamond Jubilee celebrations, he produced a jubilee album and concert outside Buckingham Palace on June 4, attracting such renowned artists such as Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John and Kylie Minogue.
Barlow also appeared alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber and his own Commonwealth Band to perform the official jubilee single, Sing, which they wrote together.
That track forms the lead single from the album of the same name, which is raising money for the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, and which shot to the UK No.1 spot in the album charts upon its release.
Other music honours
Ironically, among the other honours awarded to people involved in music was an OBE for choir master Gareth Malone, who teamed up with Barlow forSing.
Malone is also responsible for coaching the Military Wives Choir to secure the Christmas No.1 spot in 2011.
Commenting on his honour, Malone said he was “thrilled” to be recognised for services to music, adding: “Over the past 10 years, encouraging people to sing has been a labour of love so it’s wonderful to be recognised in this way. I am hugely grateful to all the people I have worked with in both television and the arts for helping me to bring music into people’s lives.”
He went on to pay special tribute to his wife and to BBC Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans for bringing his work to a wider audience by backing the Christmas chart campaign.
Soul singer Omar is also appointed OBE for services to music.
The artist originally learned his craft classically, playing the trumpet, piano and percussion. But he shot to prominence with his debut single There’s Nothing Like This, which reached No.14 in the UK Singles Chart on re-release in 1991.
In 2006, the Urban Music Awards presented Omar with the Best Neo Soul Act and Outstanding Achievement Awards.
Joe Longthorne, much loved British vocalist, receives an MBE for services to charity and music.
In his 40-plus year career Joe has played to millions of people across the globe and has worked tirelessly for many charitable organisations.
He has devoted a huge amount of time in particular to the Variety Club of Great Britain who honoured him in 2010 with their Silver Heart Award.
That made Joe the only person ever to receive three Variety Club Awards – his first was Promising Young Artist and the second a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. Joe has also performed four times at the Royal Variety Show.
This is all the more remarkable since Joe recently recovered from leukaemia and a harrowing bone marrow transplant.
Joe is currently on a major tour encompassing over 60 dates in the UK as well as shows in Australia and Spain before the end of the year. By then he will have performed over 150 world-wide shows in 2012 alone.
Commenting on the MBE Joe said: “To say I am delighted would be an understatement. It’s all the more dear to me as it comes in this very special Jubilee year.
“This is an unexpected honour and very humbling and I am extremely glad that I’m still here to receive it!”
Joe first shot to fame in 1981 as a singer and an impressionist on LWT’s Search For A Star. His success led to appearances at the London Palladium and a month long run at the Talk Of The Town.
His own prime time TV show followed, The Joe Longthorne Show, running from 1988-1991. At the height of his success, however, he was struck down with lymphoma – he battled this while continuing to work.
Sellout shows at the Royal Albert Hall, the Sydney Opera House and the London Palladium ran side by side with mismanagement, resultant bankruptcy and the diagnosis of leukaemia.
In 2006, Joe received a bone marrow transplant and in 2007 fought back to perform another sell show at the Palladium.