Thursday, 5 December 2013

Van Morrison - 20 Basic Facts

Here some "basic" facts about the only man I'll admit to loving.  Hard-core fans have heard it all before.  

1.  Van's musical career predates the Stones.  He was in the Irish showband the Monarchs in 1960 when he was 15.

  2. He's a notorious interview subject.  Some have ended in bizarre over-the-top melodrama.  Some say it's because of his basic shyness, others say it's because he got famous too early in life and now doesn't trust anyone. "What's your angle?" is one of his favourite questions.   He's also inconsistent in interviews (a real sticking point for Clinton Heylin) and feels he shouldn't be the object of public interest because he's "just a singer-songwriter".  He has asked on more than one occasion, "would you interview a plumber about his work?"
3.  He often does things at a pace that leaves his co-workers gasping.  Some backing musicians have been surprised that he sometimes records in one take.  They have thought they were just warming up when Van calls out "okay that's a take".

4.  He usually appears offstage exactly one minute before he is due onstage and leaves the venue promptly after he walks off.  He has been known to do encores.  He has been to known to finish concerts early if he's upset.  However, in the past couple of decades he's become the consummate professional giving fans 90 minutes of music with no talk.   

5.  He has been known in the past for bad eating habits, but recently he's making efforts to keep healthy.  He doesn't like crusts on sandwiches.  
  6.  He has said that he has never in forty years performed a song the same way twice. (We're currently fact checking that by analysing thousand of hours of concert recordings.)
  7.  He may or may not be married to Michelle Rocca, who was once Miss Ireland. They have 2 kids. 
  8.  He and Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains once plotted out a whole album while walking through St. Stephen's Green in Dublin.
  9.  He has received an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of Ulster and an Order of the British Empire from the Queen 
10.  He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1993.
 11.  He has said that 'sometimes I feel like Phil Spector and sometimes I feel like Howard Hughes.'
 12.  He was born at 11:59 pm on 31 August 1945, Belfast, Northern Ireland at his mother's childhood home at 125 Hyndford Street in East Belfast
 13.  He is 5' 5" (1.65 m) tall
 14.  He was born into humble circumstances and left school before his 15th birthday, yet he's become one of the most respected singer/songwriters of the rock era.   
15.  He was a member of the 1960s group, Them which was remembered by many to be a powerful R'N'B group in the mould of the early Rolling Stones.  
 16.  He once stopped in the middle of a concert in Holland and suddenly recited the Lord's Prayer.
 17.  Van's song, Days Like This, became the unofficial anthem of the Northern Irish peace process in the late 1990s.

 18.  His album sales are modest, yet two of his albums, Astral Weeks and Moondance frequently make the Top 20, 50 or 100 Best Albums of All Time lists. 

19.  His concert performances have represented the 'best of times' and the 'worst of times'.  When he's 'on song' he's the best performer on the planet.  Even better than Milli Vanilli

 20.  Van Morrison fans, a.k.a. Vanatics or Van Fans, are among the most loyal in the world of music.  They are also among the most bizarre and obsessive fans a performer could wish for.  Van fans measure themselves by how many Van concerts they've attended or how many Van records, tapes, DVDs and CDs they have.  For some it's an all-consuming hobby that their poor wives can't begin to understand.  

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