Sir George Ivan Morrison OBE (born 31 August 1945), known professionally as Van Morrison, is a Northern Irish singer, musician and songwriter whose recording career spans seven decades.
Morrison began performing 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. Known as "Van the Man" to his fans, Morrison rose to prominence in the mid-1960s as the lead singer of the Northern Irish R&B band Them, with whom he wrote and recorded "Gloria", which became a garage band staple. His solo career started under the pop-hit oriented guidance of Bert Berns with the release of the hit single "Brown Eyed Girl" in 1967. After Berns's death, Warner Bros. Records bought Morrison's contract and allowed him three sessions to record Astral Weeks (1968). While initially a poor seller, the album has become regarded as a classic. Moondance (1970) established Morrison as a major artist, and he built on his reputation throughout the 1970s with a series of acclaimed albums and live performances.
Much of Morrison's music is structured around the conventions of soul music and early rhythm and blues. 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", and his music has been described as attaining "a kind of violent transcendence".
Morrison's albums have performed well in Ireland and the UK, with more than 40 reaching the UK top 40. He has scored top ten albums in the UK in four consecutive decades, following the success of 2021's Latest Record Project, Volume 1. Eighteen of his albums have reached the top 40 in the United States, twelve of them between 1997 and 2017. Since turning 70 in 2015, he has released – on average – more than an album a year. 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.
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