Belfast Telegraph

Drummer who kept the beat for Van Morrison in 1970s dies

By Ivan Little

A prominent member of one of Van Morrison's earliest bands in America has died.

Dahaud Sharr played drums on several of the star's Seventies albums including Veedon Fleece and It's Too Late To Stop Now.

Several years ago he gave a fascinating insight into his "genius" friend's approach to music and rehearsals.

As well as being a musician and backing vocalist, Sharr was credited as an engineer on Morrison's His Band And The Street Choir LP.

He also worked briefly as a producer and musical director for the Belfast singer.

And Sharr played drums with legendary guitarist Jerry Garcia during his breaks from his band, The Grateful Dead.

He backed renowned blues singer Etta James and was with her on tours supporting The Rolling Stones.

And he was the drummer in the resident band on hit American TV show Saturday Night Live.

He toured extensively with Morrison after the singer released his acclaimed Moondance album, although he wasn't the drummer on the record.

Sharr recorded the demo for Morrison's Street Choir album in an old church in Woodstock, where the singer lived just a few years after the landmark music festival there.

In an interview posted online by US radio presenter Jake Feinberg, Sharr said he played everywhere with Morrison, from massive outdoor arenas to intimate clubs.

"It was magic, spiritual," he said, adding that the singer was "incredibly spontaneous" and didn't believe in "over-rehearsing" because he preferred to save himself for his real performances.

"He didn't want to get into the same way of doing things constantly. We would rehearse with and without him," he explained.

"He would show up but he would leave the band to rehearse by itself.

"We would spend a lot of time working on tunes and making arrangements. Van would come back and spend an hour making a lot of comments and we took notes before he left us to rehearse again."

Sharr laughed as he said that when the band got on stage, Morrison would make everything different from the way it had been rehearsed.

He added: "In the short time I worked as his musical director we would spend two hours before each gig making up an elaborate set list.

"And as soon as we hit the bandstand the set list went flying. The sound man, the lighting guy - their lists went up in the air and they were just trying to follow him. We played stuff in different tempos, in different keys. He wanted to keep it interesting. It was always in the flux."

He said Morrison knew what he wanted but sometimes had a hard time explaining it. But Sharr added playing with his band was a "beautiful thing", and that he got to know from his hand gestures behind his back where the singer wanted to go with the music on stage.

Belfast Telegraph

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