ppl chairman, john smith, awarded obe in queen’s birthday honours list

PPL Chairman and FIM (International Federation of Musicians) President, John Smith, has been awarded an OBE for services to music in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List published this evening.

The Birthday Honours are awarded as part of the Queen’s Official Birthday celebrations during the month of June. The list would normally have been announced in June, but was delayed until the Autumn because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following more than 50 years living, breathing and working in music, Smith joins Jason Iley, Joan Armatrading, Dylan Mills aka Dizzee Rascal, ELO’s Jeff Lynne, and Yolanda Charles across the music industry in being recognised for their contribution to the sector.

Commenting on the news, John Smith OBE said:

“I am absolutely thrilled to have been awarded an OBE for services to music. Over the past 50 years, I have dedicated my career to working in, working for, and representing a sector that I truly love and have a great deal of passion for. It has been a privilege to represent the rights of musicians and performers around the world on so many occasions and to work with so many wonderfully talented colleagues down through the decades. I would like to thank them all for their support. 

COVID has dealt a nasty blow to the careers of so many in the music sector and I will continue – along with my colleagues at PPL, FIM and other organisations – to do all I can to safeguard their future prospects and the future of music.”

PPL Chief Executive Officer, Peter Leathem, added:

“On behalf of all the team at PPL, I would like to heartily congratulate John on his OBE for services to music. He has been a tireless campaigner for the rights of musicians and performers throughout his distinguished career and he deserves this recognition being bestowed on him. His unwavering commitment, extensive knowledge, and boundless passion for music and our sector makes him fantastic to work with and an ever-effective Chair for PPL and all those we represent. I am delighted for him, not just as a colleague but as a friend, and look forward to seeing what more he will achieve in the years to come.”

After studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London from 1968 -1971, John Smith joined the English National Opera orchestra in 1974 and remained there, as Principal Tuba, for almost 20 years. In 1994 he was appointed a full-time official of the Musicians’ Union (MU) and was promoted to the post of Assistant General Secretary (Media) in 1997. In December 2002, John was elected General Secretary of the MU, a position that he held until July 2017 when he retired.

In addition to his UK activities and his role as Chairman of PPL, John is President of the International Federation of Musicians. The latter involves representing musicians’ interests in discussions with organisations such as UNESCO, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the European Parliament and Commission. John has held directorships of the British Copyright Council, UK Music, and the Educational Recording Agency. He is past President of the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) and has been a member of the TUC General Council and a member of the TUC Executive Committee.