Lee and Mark R. Elsis
Morrison is acclaimed as one of music's truly innovative artists,
collaborating a popular blend of R&B, jazz, blues, and Celtic
folk styles. Morrison, born in Belfast, Ireland in 1945, is the son
of a shipyard worker who collected American jazz and blues records.
By age fifteen, teenage Morrison dropped out of school to pursue a
career in music. Young Morrison learned to play the guitar, saxophone,
and harmonica while playing with a series of local Irish bands before
forming his own band - Them.
Them quickly earned a devout following, in the process recording the
UK Top Ten hit "Baby Please Don't Go" in 1965. Them's "Gloria"
has and continues to be regarded as one of rock's classical hits which
has been covered by a diverse number of bands including The
Doors. Due to changing lineups, a frustrated Morrison left Them
in 1966 and returned to his Belfast home.
former producer, Bert
Berns (Bang Records), was able to convince Morrison to record
as a solo artist in New York City. Van recorded perhaps his most famous
Eye Girl" from March 28th through 30th, 1967. The sessions
took place in the A&R Recording Studios on 112 West 48th Street.
The resulting album, Blowin'
Your Mind (released against Morrison's wishes), was dissimilarly
considered a bleak failure. Yet, the success of the "Brown Eyed
Girl" single prompted Berns to call Van back to New York for
a second studio session in November of 1967, from which The Best of
Van Morrison and many of the subsequent reissues were culled. Berns
died from a heart attack on December 30, 1967 and Morrison returned
back to Belfast, Ireland.
after, Morrison again started working on a new album. This time Morrison
was signed wih the Warner Brothers company. In 1968 Van released arguably
the best album of his career entitled Astral
Weeks. Noted for its poetic complexity incorporating folk-styled
jazz, Astral Weeks was a success on all levels except its commercial
contrast, Morrison's optimistic follow-up Moondance
(1970) not only catapulted the singers popularity but finally received
public acclaim, cracking the Top 40 records of the year.From
Moondance's release in 1970 onward, Morrison's records were said to
stylize a more celebratory tone due to his recent marriage to Janet
Planet and their relocation to California.
Honey (1971) was highlighted by the single "Wild Night"
- most notable for its serene descriptions of married life. In 1972,
Van Morrison formed the Caledonia Soul Orchestra. In 1973, however,
things took a drastic turn as Morrison disunited the Orchestra, divorced
his wife, and again returned to Ireland. The LP Veedon
Fleece (1974) narrated Morrison's recent experiences in a emotional
compiling of 1973's drastic occurrences.
Veedom Fleece, Morrison temporarily withdrew from music, although
supposedly working on a number of failed compositions. Finally, in
1977, A Period
of Transition was released. It was during Morrison's return to
music that his performance became increasingly erratic. In 1978 Van
Morrison released Wavelength
and to back it up, he went on tour for the first time in five years.
One thing Morrison was notorious for was often walking off stage without
eighties saw Morrison's release of a number of LP's including: Inarticulate
Speech of the Heart (1983), A
Sense of Wonder (1985), No
Guru, No Method, No Teacher (1986), Irish
Heartbeat (1988), Avalon
Sunset (1989), and Mercury Records Best
of Van Morrison (1990). With the exceptions of both his best-of
compilation and Heartbeat, the majority of Morrison's work through
the eighties was noted for its uniformly spiritual substance. Only
Heartbeat (1988) changed Morrison's eighties genre by encompassing
a more traditional folk styled sound.
to the majority of his eighties work, the nineties proved excitingly
eclectic. In 1990 Van Morrison released the critically acclaimed album
To me, the song "Enlightenment" is one of the five best
of Van's long great career. This was followed by Hymns
of Silence in 1991. Considered some of his best work in years,
both of these releases helped Morrison appeal to a new generation