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Tuesday, 20 August, 2002, 07:19 GMT 08:19 UK
Sir Paul 'to miss' US awards
Sir Paul McCartney
Sir Paul has recently toured in the US
Sir Paul McCartney has pulled out of a prestigious awards ceremony in the US because it clashed with his niece's wedding, it is reported.

Paul Simon will replace him at the Kennedy Center Honours in Washington in December, Variety said.

Sir Paul would have joined US President George Bush and actress Dame Elizabeth Taylor for the ceremony but for his family commitments.

Paul Simon
Paul Simon will be the replacement
He was due to receive a lifetime achievement award for his career in the performing arts.

The former Beatle expressed his "deepest regret and profound apologies" to the centre.

He is the first nominee for the honour to withdraw from the event in its 25-year history.

Kennedy Center chairman James Johnson said he understood Sir Paul's decision to put "inescapable personal obligation ahead of other commitments".

He added that his replacement was a songwriter who helped shape several generations of young Americans.

"More recently, [Simon's] work has encompassed an awareness of and concern for international art and artists."

Massive success

It is understood Sir Paul - described as the "most prolific and influential songwriters of our era" in his nomination - will now receive his award in 2003.

He has had massive success in the US recently, with his last American tour taking $52.8m (33.9m) to make it the most lucrative of the first half of 2002.

Sir Paul was also praised for taking a prominent role in benefit work after 11 September.

Actor James Earl Jones, dancer and actress Chita Rivera and Metropolitan Opera artistic director James Levine were also honoured.

The awards will be handed out by Secretary of State Colin Powell the night before the gala ceremony.

See also:

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