March 11, 1997: Paul McCartney gets knighted

It was the day a Beatle became a Sir.

On March 11th, 1997, at the age of 54, Paul McCartney was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

"Her majesty may be a pretty nice girl, as Paul McCartney once wrote, and at Buckingham palace she had enough to say to make him a Knight of the Realm," CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reported outside of the palace.

McCartney is the only Beatle to receive the honor, and some said at the time it was long overdue.

"He had to wait for his royal reward," Phillips reported, "his drug bust may explain the delay."

That's right -- in January 1980, McCartney was arrested in Tokyo and spent nine days in jail for bringing marijuana with him into Japan. It wasn't the first or last time he and the other Beatles made headlines over drugs.

In 1965, the group was given the Order of the British Empire at the height of their popularity.

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The Beatles pose after being awarded MBE medals, or Members of the Most Honorable Order of the British Empire.
CBS News

"The last time the Beatles were in Buckingham Palace, they got into trouble saying they had smoked marijuana in the bathroom," Phillips said of the day they received the honor.

McCartney accepted his knightship on behalf of all of his band mates.

"I just remember the other three. I keep looking over my shoulder expecting to see them," McCartney told reporters outside the palace.

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Young Beatles fans told Mark Phillips in 1997 that Sir Paul McCartney's knighting was "groovy."
CBS News

At the famous crosswalk outside the Abbey Road Studios, Phillips found some young fans from Arkansas who were rather impressed with McCartney's new status.

"It makes him a little bit more sexier," one fan joked. "It's what we look for in men, sirs."

Of course, McCartney may never have become a knight had it not been for a man named George Martin. Martin was the mastermind behind 30 number one hits for the Beatles, and he became a knight himself in 1996.

Martin passed away on Tuesday at the age of 90. McCartney, along with fellow Beatle Ringo Starr, mourned the legendary producer on Twitter.

"He was the most generous, intelligent and musical person I've ever had the pleasure to know," McCartney said in a statement. "The world has lost a truly great man who left an indelible mark on my soul and the history of British music."