George Ivan Morrison (generally known as Van Morrison) (born August 31, 1945) is a Grammy Award-winning Irish singer, songwriter, author, poet and multi-instrumentalist, who has been a professional musician since the late 1950s. He plays a variety of instruments, including the guitar, harmonica, keyboards, drums, and saxophone. Featuring his characteristic growl — a unique mix of folk, blues, Irish, scat, and Celtic influences — Morrison is widely considered one of the most unusual and influential vocalists in the history of rock and roll.Critic Greil Marcus has gone so far as to say that “no white man sings like Van Morrison.”
Known as “Van the Man” by his fans, Morrison first rose to prominence as the lead singer of the Northern Irish band Them, penning their seminal 1964 hit “Gloria”. A few years later, Morrison left the band for a successful solo career, which commenced with Astral Weeks, an album consistently rated on both critics and listeners “best” lists.
Morrison has pursued an idiosyncratic musical path. Much of his music is tightly structured around the conventions of American soul and R&B, such as the popular singles “Brown Eyed Girl”, “Moondance”, “Domino” and “Wild Night”. An equal part of his catalogue consists of lengthy, loosely connected, spiritually inspired musical journeys that show the influence of Celtic tradition, jazz, and stream-of-consciousness narrative, such as his classic album Astral Weeks and lesser known works such as Veedon Fleece and Common One. The two strains together are sometimes referred to as “Celtic Soul”.
Morrison’s career, spanning some five decades, has influenced many popular musical artists. In 1993 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2000, Morrison ranked #25 on American cable music channel VH1’s list of its 100 greatest artists of rock and roll, and in 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Van Morrison 42nd on their list of The Immortals: 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Paste Magazine ranked him 20th in their list of 100 Greatest Living Songwriters in 2006 and Q Magazine ranked him 22nd on their list of 100 Greatest Singers in April 2007.
He continues to perform many times a year, around the world, and achieved his highest US chart position (#10 on the Billboard 200) with his latest album, Keep It Simple.