Van Morrison, OBE (born George Ivan Morrison; 31 August 1945) is a Northern Irish singer-songwriter and musician. His live performances at their best are regarded as transcendental and inspired. Known as "Van the Man" to his fans, Morrison started his professional career when as a teenager in the late 1950s he played a variety of instruments including guitar, harmonica, keyboards and saxophone in a range of Irish show bands who covered the popular hits of the day before rising to prominence in the mid-1960s as the lead singer of the gritty Northern Irish R&B band, Them, with whom he recorded the garage band classic, "Gloria."
His solo career began under the pop-hit oriented guidance of Bert Berns with the release of the hit single "Brown Eyed Girl" in 1967. After Berns' death, Warner Bros. Records bought out his contract and allowed him three sessions to record “Astral Weeks” in 1968. Even though this album would gradually garner high praise, it was initially poorly received. Van Morrison’s subsequent album, “Moondance,” established Morrison as a major artist, and throughout the 1970s he built on his reputation with a series of critically acclaimed albums and live performances.
“Moondance” became his first million copy selling album and reached #29 on the Billboard charts. In 1971, he released another well-received album, “Tupelo Honey.” This album produced the hit single, "Wild Night" that was later covered by John Mellencamp. Morrison continues to record and tour, producing albums and live performances that sell well and are generally warmly received, sometimes collaborating with other artists, such as Georgie Fame and The Chieftains. In 2008 he performed “Astral Weeks” live for the first time since 1968. Much of Morrison's music is structured around the conventions of soul music and R&B, such as the popular singles, "Brown Eyed Girl," "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)," "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 “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 has received several major music awards in his career, including six Grammy Awards (1996–2007), inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (January 1993), the Songwriters Hall of Fame (June 2003), and the Irish Music Hall of Fame (September 1999) and a Brit Award (February 1994). In addition he has received civil awards of an OBE (June 1996) and an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1996), and he has honorary doctorates from the University of Ulster (1992) and Queen's University Belfast (July 2001).