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Sir Paul, Sir Elton, and now … Sir Bertie Higgins: Tarpon Springs-born singer to be knighted

Turns out Bertie Higgins didn't have it all, like Bogie and Bacall.

The singer-songwriter of 1982's radio hit Key Largo never had a knighthood, until now.

"Can you believe that a Tarpon boy... would turn out to be a knight?" Higgins, 71 and still on the rowdy side, said Thursday on the phone. "I sure didn't.

"I told my band now they can either kiss my ring or kiss my a--."

Tarpon Springs' most popular export since sponges will be knighted in September by the Imperial Order of Culture and Peace, a chivalry organization based in London, England.

Higgins won't be anywhere near Queen Elizabeth II, whose Order of the British Empire is the world's most revered knighting organization, honoring Sirs and Dames for 99 years. Celebrities including Paul McCartney, Elton John, Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins have been awarded such honors.

On the other gloved hand, the Imperial Order of Culture and Peace was incorporated in February, according to bizstats.com, that lists Chinese businessman Linjie Chou-Zanadu, 34, as director, noting a residence in Sweden. Not much information about the order exists online, mainly a Facebook page created March 21.

"I'm going to go over there, have the sword tapped on my shoulders, and it'll be registered in England that I'm a knight," Higgins said. "They're flying me and my wife over to Italy first class, so it sounds legit to me."

Higgins said he was informed of the honor several weeks ago, having no previous knowledge of the order. One reason for the musician/filmmaker's selection is his popularity in China, where Higgins said he soon commence his ninth tour. "When he goes to China he's like Elvis," said Higgins' booking agent and publicist, Sissy Treat. Always game for a charity benefit, Higgins claimed to have raised $500,000 for infirmed children in China during his most recent tour of the nation.

"You know, they seemed most impressed with my work with the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary over the years with (founder) Ralph Heath," Higgins said. Heath resigned in 2015 after a series of financial, regulatory and image problems.

Higgins maintains a hectic touring pace while producing his fifth feature film, a documentary on Bill Haley and the Comets and the origins of rock and roll. His latest album, Gold From My Treasure Chest, came out in 2016. Slowing down isn't in the cards.

"When I die I'm gonna slide 50 feet," Higgins joked, "because I'm running so fast."

[Last modified: Monday, May 16, 2016 12:42pm]

    

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