About Van Morrison
Sir George Ivan Morrison OBE is a Northern Irish singer-songwriter, instrumentalist and record producer. His professional career began as a teenager in the late 1950s, playing a variety of instruments including guitar, harmonica, keyboards and saxophone for various Irish showbands, covering the popular hits of that time. Van Morrison rose to prominence in the mid-1960s as the lead singer of the Northern Irish R&B and rock band, Them, with whom he recorded the garage band classic "Gloria". His solo career began in 1967, under the pop-hit orientated guidance of Bert Berns with the release of the hit single "Brown Eyed Girl". After Berns's death, Warner Bros. Records bought out his contract and allowed him three sessions to record Astral Weeks . Though this album gradually garnered high praise, it was initially a poor seller.
Morrison has a reputation for being at once stubborn,idiosyncratic, and sublime. His live performances at their best are seen as transcendental and inspired, while some of his recordings, such as the studio albums Astral Weeks and Moondance, and the live album It's Too Late to Stop Now, are highly acclaimed. His albums have - with few exceptions - performed well in Ireland and the UK, with more than forty hitting the UK top forty. He has scored eighteen top 40 albums in the US, twelve of them between 1997 and 2017.
Moondance established Morrison as a major artist, and he built on his reputation throughout the 1970s with a series of acclaimed albums and live performances. He continues to record and tour, producing albums and live performances that sell well and are generally warmly received, sometimes collaborating with other artists, such as Georgie Fame and The Chieftains.
Much of Morrison's music is structured around the conventions of soul music and R&B. An equal part of his catalogue consists of lengthy, spiritually inspired musical journeys that show the influence of Celtic tradition, jazz and stream-of-consciousness narrative, such as the album Astral Weeks. The two strains together are sometimes referred to as "Celtic soul". He has received two Grammy Awards, the 1994 Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, the 2017 Americana Music Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting and has been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2016, he was knighted for services to the music industry and to tourism in Northern Ireland. He is known by the nickname Van the Man to his fans.
George Ivan "Van" Morrison was born on 31 August 1945, at 125 Hyndford Street, Bloomfield, Belfast, Northern Ireland, as the only child of George Morrison, a shipyard electrician, and Violet Stitt Morrison, who had been a singer and tap dancer in her youth. Morrison's family were working class Protestants descended from the Ulster Scots population that settled in Belfast. From 1950 to 1956, Morrison, who began to be known as "Van" during this time, attended Elmgrove Primary School. His father had what was at the time one of the largest record collections in Northern Ireland and the young Morrison grew up listening to artists such as Jelly Roll Morton, Ray Charles, Lead Belly, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and Solomon Burke; of whom he later said, "If it weren't for guys like Ray and Solomon, I wouldn't be where I am today. Those guys were the inspiration that got me going. If it wasn't for that kind of music, I couldn't do what I'm doing now."
His father's record collection exposed him to various musical genres, such as the blues of Muddy Waters; the gospel of Mahalia Jackson; the jazz of Charlie Parker; the folk music of Woody Guthrie; and country music from Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers, while the first record he ever bought was by blues musician Sonny Terry. When Lonnie Donegan had a hit with "Rock Island Line", written by Huddie Ledbetter , Morrison felt he was familiar with and able to connect with skiffle music as he had been hearing Lead Belly before that.
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