A musician who toured the world alongside Van Morrison has said the east Belfast singer richly deserves the knighthood he has been granted in the Queen’s Birthday honours.
Mr Morrison – who has a reputation for shunning the spotlight – is the only Northern Irish recipient of a knighthood on this latest honours list, which was officially unveiled late on Friday night.
Listed as Mr George Ivan Morrison, his citation reads: “For services to the music industry and to tourism in Northern Ireland”.
The news that Van Morrison has joined the ranks of rock knights will delight his millions of fans.
Belfast-born singer-songwriter Brian Kennedy, who formerly performed on tour with the soon to be ennobled singer, said: “If anybody deserves the title of Sir it would be Sir Van. I am quite delighted and excited for him.
“He has played through the darkest of times and wonderful times.
“He is the soundtrack of celebration when it comes to our part of the world. His contribution has been so extraordinary. They broke the mould when they made Van.
“Everything he does is exceptionally original. He does it with such commitment. People just don’t realise what a phenomenon he is, but the Queen of England does.”
Jackie McAuley, who played the organ with Morrison in the 1960s, said: “Van was fantastic, absolutely brilliant. His voice was phenomenal, his timing was brilliant. He was just a natural as a front man.”
The honour is another high point in a career that has taken Mr Morrison from the back rooms of Belfast’s pubs to the world’s biggest arenas, winning him critical acclaim along the way.
His style – a meshing of blues, country, soul and folk – is a product of his home town and the music he grew up with. His father was an east Belfast shipyard worker, rumoured to have one of the best record collections in the city.
By his teens he was singing and playing saxophone and guitar and enjoyed his first taste of success as the frontman for r’n’b band Them.
Astral Weeks, which regularly features in critics’ lists of all-time great albums, was recorded in three days and set the template for the rest of his career with a mix of poetic lyrics, often inspired by his native country, jazz Celtic folk and soulful vocals.
Critical and commercial acclaim followed with records including Moondance, Tupelo Honey and St Dominic’s Preview while his live act made him an in-demand performer around the world.
His investiture is expected to take place some time in the coming six months.