Mark Oliver Everett, the EELS front man, has joined a prestigious list that includes Winston Churchill, Princess Diana, Nelson Mandela and musicians like Bob Geldof, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti after he was honoured with one of the most long standing accolades in London’s history – the Freedom of the City of London. Accepting the award just a few hours before his band played a show at the Barbican Centre as a part of their UK tour, E said,
“To go from being a suspected terrorist, to having the Freedom of the City is quite amazing. It shows that anything is possible in London. I love this place!”
Since forming in 1996, the same year that it became possible for non-British or Commonwealth citizens to be admitted to the award, EELs have played London numerous times. The Freedom of the City of London is one of the oldest surviving traditional ceremonies still in existence today, the first Freedom believed to have been presented in 1237. It is a unique part of London’s history to which many people who have lived or worked in the City have been proud to have been admitted.
The nomination came from two City of London Corporation senior officers and Liverymen Jon Averns, Port Health and Public Protection Director, and David Smith CBE, Director of Markets and Consumer Protection.
Jon Averns said:
“We nominated Mark Oliver Everett for the Freedom as he’ll be playing his first ever show in the City this week with EELS. The band is internationally renowned and recently sold out the Royal Albert Hall, and we saw this as a great opportunity as they play Barbican Centre tonight, one of the most important institutions in the City of London.”
The Freedom of the City has a quirky side: several ancient rites and myths are attached to this honour, including the right to drive sheep and cattle over London Bridge!