Sunday, 20 April 2014

A Few More Fan Stories


Memories can be tricky things.  Just get a load of some of the following gems, particularly item number 1. 

Roger Kirkpatrick   -   My cousin recently met Van Morrison aboard a cruise ship(?!?). She told him that one of her all-time favourite songs was Brown-Eyed Girl. Van told her that as a young boy he had a female dog that had one blue eye and one brown eye, and that he wrote Brown-Eyed Girl for that dog. I had heard that story behind the song before, but this is the first time I had heard of Van telling the story himself.

J.R.   -   I first saw Van at Portsmouth Guildhall in early 1979 (around January/February) , when he was touring to promote his latest album Wavelength. I’d never seen Van before and actually drove from Preston to Portsmouth that evening to see the gig – and then drove all the way back again after. I don’t recall the setlist, but it seems likely it would have been similar to the gig he played in Belfast on 1st February 1979 – Moondance. Checkin’ It Out, Moonshine Whiskey, Tupelo Honey, Wavelength, Saint Dominic’s Preview, Don’t Look Back, I’ve Been Working, Gloria,Cyprus Avenue.

I don’t recall who was in the band either, although on the Wavelength album musicians included our very own Herbie Armstrong -Van played electric piano on the track “Hungry For Your Love” (which also featured in the1982 film “An Officer and a Gentleman” accompanied by Herbie on acoustic guitar.
Also on the recording were Garth Hudson from The Band, Bobby Tench from Roger Chapman’s Streetwalkers, and Peter Bardens, who played with Van in Belfast with Them and later formed Camel. Van also appeared at the Guildhall on 6th November 1984. I know ‘cos I bootlegged it! Band then was Richie Buckley on sax, Kenny Craddock on keyboards, Jerome Rimson on bass, Martin Drover on trumpet, Arty McGlynn on guitar and Terry Popple on drums.
He was at The Hexagon, Reading on 8th May 1988 with The Chieftains ( a GREAT gig!) Southampton on 14th October 1989 too – I still have my ticket stub, and bootlegged both gigs.  After that I’ve seen Van quite a few times, including about nine nights one after the other when he toured with Bob Dylan on a double header U.K tour in 1998, but that first gig at The Guildhall in 1979 will always be very special to me.

Norman Seeff  (photographer for Van Morrison’s 1979  album, Into the Music)   -   I met with him at his home in Northern California and he took me on a crazy drive in his Porsche as we listened to the album.

But by the end of the day the quixotic artist expressed doubts about using his image on the album cover. Seeff turned to a mutual friend, who had played violin on one of Morrison’s previous records, for help. She assembled a makeshift band in a studio near Morrison’s home. This is going to be fun, I told him,” says Seeff. I explained he didn’t have to do anything special—just play music. Morrison wound up performing for three hours, leading the band through much of his monumental catalogue. It was an amazing jam session, recalls Seeff, who brought along a small film crew. He was in the zone. I believe it’s one of the great pieces of music captured on film.

Terence Dackombe   -   Van Morrison is a noted curmudgeon who rarely fails to deliver. Numerous examples exist of his boorish unaccommodating behaviour.  His excruciating lack of manners when being interviewed by Nicky Horne on Capital Radio in the 1970s has become quite legendary, and I witnessed a similar bout of petulance from him, when I accompanied a presenter from BBC Radio London to a gig where she was due to introduce Van Morrison.

Just before going on stage, she asked Morrison how he would like to be introduced and he simply shrugged his shoulders and scowled.  She walked on, reminded people to take their belongings and rubbish home with them (the gig was in a park) and said, Ladies and gentlemen… Van Morrison!

As they passed each other Morrison screwed up his face and yelled Ya didn’t mention my band!

Warren Ellis   -   I saw a TV interview in which Lonnie Donegan (the secret font of rock’n'roll) explained how Van Morrison basically issued instructions for the Belfast gigs that would become the SKIFFLE SESSIONS album. “And no overdubs.” 

And it’s Van Morrison, the old monster himself, who gets caught out by the no-overdubs rule. Because halfway through I Wanna Go Home, Lonnie Donegan opens up his pipes and reminds everyone that he’s Lonnie Donegan and he can blow the doors off the room if he feels like it, gets a round of applause at the end of his bit and that and Van Morrison realising he has to follow that has the old monster cracking up on mic.
Jeff Schrembs   -   The King of Rock (Elvis Presley) and the King of Soul (James Brown) knew each other, respected each other, and were friendly with one another. Back in 1966 Elvis went to a performance of Jackie Wilson and George Klein.  George Klein introduced Elvis to James Brown. Interestingly in the same audience were Van Morrison and members of The Rolling Stones and Buffalo Springfield.

Jesse Kornbluth   -   In l968, I lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just down the block from Van Morrison. Whenever we passed one another on the street, I would nod. Morrison would just stare. Or glare. "Unpleasant," I concluded. I have seen Van Morrison in concert many times over the past 40-odd years. I have never had to reconsider this opinion. Van Morrison is one chilly, angry guy.

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