Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Britain is a country whose old men remember a once young Irish musician and say "Happy Birthday" to Van Morrison

Van Morrison is 65 today.

Things you probably didn't know about him, he :

* was born George 'Ivan' Morrison in Belfast, Northern Ireland where his father was a shipyard electrician and his mother had been a singer and tap dancer in her youth.

* listened to his father's huge record collection, amassed during his stay in Detroit in the 1950s and grew up listening to Jelly Roll Morton, Ray Charles, Lead Belly, and Solomon Burke and later said : "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".

* had his first acoustic guitar when he was 11 and a 12 formed his first band, a skiffle group called 'The Sputniks', named after the recently launched Soviet satellite and played at some of the local cinemas with himn contributing most of the singing and arranging.

* at 14, talked his father into buying him a saxophone and took lessons in tenor sax and music reading.

* left school at 16 in 1960 with no qualifications and settled into a job as a window cleaner while he continuing to play part-time.

* At 17, toured Europe for the first time with 'The International Monarchs'.

* helped to create the band 'Them' in 1964 which took its name after the 1950's horror movie 'THEM !

* had 3 chart hits with : "Baby, Please Don't Go" in 1964

and "Here Comes the Night" and "Mystic Eyes" in 1965,

though it was the b-side of the first called "Gloria" which became the classic.

* when 'Them' split up he started his solo career with "Brown Eyed Girl" in 1967 and 40 years forty years later in 2007, it was the fourth most requested song of DJs in the US.

Here it is performed by an older Van :

My favourite : "Have I told you lately" :

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