Van Morrison has had a long and distinguished career in music, thrilling people with his live shows and recording amazing albums that often appear on “must own” lists. Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland on August 31, 1945, Van Morrison grew up working class and was expected to get a regular working class job when he came of age. But the lure of music was too much to resist and Morrison got an early start when his father introduced him to the sounds of Jelly Roll Morton and Ray Charles. Van’s father had a huge, eclectic album collection, which influenced his son’s professional development into one of the world’s great performers. Van Morrison’s career started in 1958, when he was just 13 years old and is still going strong today.
Besides being a great singer, Van Morrison plays several musical instruments, including guitar, saxophone, keyboards, harmonica, ukelele, tambourine, and drums. He also writes lyrics, composes, and arranges a lot of his own music. His musical style can be described as a mix of folk, blues, jazz, soul, and gospel, with a healthy Ulster Scots Celtic influence. He’s equally comfortable singing a tender love ballad and a hard driving rock song. His music often includes references to Christianity, often expressed in long, prayer-like, stream of consciousness improvisations. Never one to shy from trying something different, Van Morrison’s music has incorporated everything from big band to country and western style and he has released albums that have focused on specific genres. For instance, 2005’s Magic Time is very much a big band album, with lush horn arrangements and romantic themes. In 2006, he released Pay The Devil, which was a nod toward country music.
Van Morrison has been influenced by a lot of great musicians and, in turn, has also influenced many musicians. Though he has often expressed disdain for the music industry, especially in his songs, he’s also known as being generous with the limelight and willing to share the stage with other musicians. One thing seems especially clear. Van Morrison is driven to perform and will probably be on stage until he dies.
Van Morrison sings “In The Garden”.
Van Morrison and Ray Charles perform “Crazy Love”.
Van Morrison performs “Sometimes We Cry” with his daughter, Shana Morrison.