Belfast Telegraph

Pic of week: Well, it's a marvellous day for a knighthood

By Kerry McKittrick

George Ivan Morrison is made Knight Bachelor of the British Empire by Prince Charles at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.

The 70-year-old received the honour for services to music and Northern Ireland tourism.

This is by no means the first award the singer has received. Over the course of a career that has spanned more than 50 years he has collected six Grammy Awards and a Brit Award. He has received honorary degrees from what was then the University of Ulster and Queen's University and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, the Songwriters Hall Of Fame and the Irish Hall Of Fame. He was appointed an OBE in 1996.

Born in east Belfast, 'Van The Man' is the son of a shipyard electrician who had one of the largest record collections in Northern Ireland - thanks to the time he spent in America.

That record collection and the guitar lessons given to him by his father would go on to shape his musical career.

As a teenager, he persuaded his father to buy him a saxophone, an instrument he has played often throughout his recording career.

After leaving school with no qualifications, Van began playing with various showbands and touring around Europe. He had his first breakthrough when he joined the group Them in 1964 and they enjoyed moderate success touring America.

It was when Them split up in 1966 that Van Morrison struck out as a solo artist.

He has since produced dozens of hit albums and many of his songs have become classics - Brown-Eyed Girl in particular is still a common DJ request more than 40 years after its first release.

The singer now divides his time between homes in Belfast and London. Sir Van was full of uncharacteristic smiles on Thursday at Buckingham Palace when receiving his reward and declared he has no plans to retire yet.

Belfast Telegraph