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General rejects honour for Dylan

Legendary singer may be refused Légion d'Honneur for smoking cannabis and opposing Vietnam War

BOB Dylan has been ruled “unworthy” of receiving France’s highest award, the Légion d'Honneur.

General Jean-Louis Georgelin, Great Chancellor of the Légion d’Honneur, said the legendary American singer-songwriter was “indigne” due to his past as an anti-Vietnam War campaigner and for smoking cannabis.

Dylan had been proposed on the 50th anniversary of the release of his classic album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan by Culture Secretary Aurélie Filippetti – and the revelation of Georgelin’s ban in satirical magazine Le Canard enchaîné sparked protests on the internet.

This prompted a response from the Grande Chancellerie which said “General Georgelin does not decide the award of the Légion d'Honneur, this is done by the Council of the Order. The council has not yet discussed the list that the Culture Minister had put forward and which contained the name of Bob Dylan. Nothing is yet decided.”

Paul McCartney was the most recent foreigner to be named Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur - by President Holland last September – and it is said that it was Dylan who introduced him and The Beatles to cannabis.

If Dylan’s proposal is ratified, he would join McCartney on the list alongside Sean Connery, Miles Davis, Clint Eastwood, Duke Ellington, Gene Kelly, Liza Minelli, David Lynch, Norman Mailer, Luciano Pavarotti, Charlotte Rampling and Kristin Scott Thomas.

He first came to fame with Freewheelin' which contained hits such as Blowin' in the Wind, A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall and Don't Think Twice, It's All Right, and his protest songs became anthems of the human rights movement.

One criterion for a foreigner to be named in the Légion d’Honneur – non-French people cannot be members of the Légion – is that they “defend humanitarian causes”.

France previously awarded Dylan the title of Chevalier des Arts et Lettres in 1990.
Photo: U.S. Information Agency. Press and Publications Service

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