Also known as "The Belfast Cowboy" and "Van the Man", Van Morrison is a versatile singer and is well-versed in many musical instruments, such as Vocals, Guitar, Saxophones, Harmonica, Tambourine, Ukulele, Keyboards, and Drums. He has expertise in all kinds of musical genres, such as Pop, Rock, Rhythm and Blues (R&B), Folk, Celtic, Rock and Roll, Blue-eyed Soul, Jazz, Soft Rock, Country, Skiffle, and Gospel. He is considered as one of the most unusual and influential vocalists in the history of the Rock and Roll music genre. His musical career began at the early age of 12, when he first formed his own group named "The Sputniks". Soon, one of his early songs, "Brown Eyed Girl" was released as a single which was hit, and became an all-time classic. Soon, he released his third solo album, "Moondance" that became his first million selling album. In his late 20s, he wrote seven songs, which became his next album, "Veedon Fleece". Then, for a period of four years, he suffered from a writer's block. Thereafter, he released his next album, "A Period of Transition, which was a comeback in his career. For a deeper understanding about his childhood, musical career, major works, personal life, awards and achievements, just go ahead.
Childhood & Early Life
George Ivan "Van" Morrison was born at 125 Hynford Street, Bloomfield, Belfast (Northern Ireland). He is the only child of a shipyard electrician, George Morrison and Violet Stitt Morrison.
His mother, Violet Stitt was a singer and tap dancer in her early life. His family was the descendent of the Ulster Scots -of Belfast.
From his childhood, he was exposed to different music genres through his father's great record collection. He grew up listening to the music of great artists like Ray Charles, Jelly Roll Morton, and Solomon Burke.
From 1950 to 1956, he attended the Elmgrove Primary School. Eventually, he learned to play an acoustic Guitar and picked up elementary chords from the song book, The Carter Family Style.
He then attended the Orangefield High School. But, he left the school in 1960 without achieving any qualifications. He was more interested in his musical endeavors than completing his education.
At the age of 12, he formed his first skiffle group, "The Sputniks", named after the Soviet satellite, Sputnik 1 that was launched during the period.
In April 1964, Morrison created a new Northern Irish band named 'Them', out of the existing band 'The Gamblers'. The band came to be known for its garage rock music style.
In mid-June 1967, his song, "Brown Eyed Girl" was released as a single. The song was a hit and even became an all-time classic.
In 1970, he released his third solo album, "Moondance". It became his first million selling album, and proved him as a major artist.
In 1972, he released another album, "Saint Dominic". The album had more daring, adventurous, and meditative features.
In October 1973, he wrote seven songs during his visit to Ireland, which later became his next album, "Veedon Fleece".
After a brief period of suffering from writer's block, he released his next album, "A Period of Transition" in 1977.
In the early 1990s, he released his compilation album "The Best of Van Morrison", followed by the album’s Volume II and Volume III.
On 7 and 8 November 2008, he performed the entire Astral Weeks album live at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California for the first time.
On 2 October, 2012, he released his most recent 34th studio album, "Born to Sing: No Plan B". The album was recorded live in Belfast with a rating of four out of five stars.
In 1968, he released his first album, "Astral Weeks" under the label, Warner Bros. Records, which became his best work. The album is classified as magnetic, reflective, and as possessing a distinctive musical power.
In 1978, he released another album, "Wavelength". It became the fastest selling album of his professional career. The opening track, "Kingdom Hall" has evoked his childhood experiences about attending church with his mother.
Awards & Achievements
Between 1996 and 2007, Morrison received six Grammy Awards including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame award, the Songwriters Hall of Fame award, and the Irish Music Hall of Fame award.
In 1996, he received two civil awards; the Order of the British Empire for his service to music, and the Order of Arts and Letters awarded by the French government.
In August 2013, it was declared that the impressive Irish singer – songwriter, Morrison will soon receive the Freedom of Belfast, the highest honor of the city.
Personal Life & Legacy
After signing with Bang Records in 1967, he moved to New York. He stayed in the US due to visa problems and he married his American girlfriend, Janet Rigsbee during his stay.
He and his wife had one daughter named, Shana Morrison, who too has become a singer-songwriter, like his father.
The Morrison family then moved around America, first living in Boston, then in Woodstock, New York, and then in a hilltop home in Fairfax, California. In 1973, he and his wife divorced.
In 2001, Morrison toured with Linda Gail Lewis for the promotion of their work, "You Win Again". Later, Lewis filed claims against Morrison about unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination, which were later withdrawn.
Later, in the summer of 1992, Morrison married an Irish socialite Michelle Rocca. He has a daughter and a son out of this wedlock.
Though the Irish singer-songwriter has recorded songs that covered several music genres including Pop, Jazz, Rock and Roll, Folk, Gospel, Traditional, and Skiffle, he usually defines himself as a Celtic soul singer.