Belfast Telegraph

Van Morrison tells of ‘relief’ after divorce

By Ivan Little

Singer Van Morrison has been divorced from former Irish beauty queen Michelle Rocca after what he says has been the "storm" of the last eight years of their marriage.

The 72-year-old east Belfast man announced the divorce in a statement on his official website and Twitter account.

It said he had been granted the divorce in Dublin last week from the former Miss Ireland.

He added: "At my age, I have found it to be a hugely wearying, protracted experience and I'm relieved that it has finally reached a conclusion."

The statement thanked Van's family and close friends "for providing respite from the storm over the past eight years".

The statement continued: "You know who you are and I'm eternally grateful." Negotiations about the divorce settlement between the multi-millionaire singer and his wife have been lengthy, and no details have been released.

As yet there has been no comment from the former Mrs Morrison who was crowned Miss Ireland in 1980.

Van was seen a week ago having lunch in a cafe in Holywood not far from his Co Down home.

Van - who is to support crooner Michael Buble at a headline performance in Hyde Park this summer - has released three albums since September 2016.

The Morrisons have two young children - daughter Aibhe (12) and son Ivan (10).

Van and Michelle were last photographed together in public in June 2016 in Belfast where they and their children attended the funeral of the singer's mother Violet in Bloomfield. Van met Michelle, who had previously been married to Arsenal and Republic of Ireland footballer John Devine, at a dinner party in Leixlip Castle in the early 1990s thrown by Desmond Guinness.

They quickly became a high profile celebrity couple on the social scene around Dublin, and were married in the mid-90s. The closeness of their relationship at the time was reflected by Michelle's photos appearing on the covers of two of Van's albums, No Prima Donna in 1994, and Days Like This the following year.

But the state of the marriage became the subject of frenzied media speculation after reports that he had fathered a son with American Gigi Lee. Michelle was said to have been shocked by the claims. However, Van denied them and instructed top PR man John Saunders to dismiss the story and to say he didn't know Ms Lee.

A statement was released on behalf of Van saying the claims about the baby were "completely and utterly without foundation".

It added: "For the avoidance of all doubt and in the interests of clarity I am very happily married to Michelle Morrison with whom I have two wonderful children."

It later emerged that the Texan had worked as a manager on a number of Van's tours.

A court case brought in Dublin by Saunders against the singer was settled "on terms that include a letter that the plaintiff John Saunders acted with integrity and on the express instructions of the defendant Van Morrison".

Gigi Lee and baby son George Ivan Morrison died within nine months of each other in 2011.

Van's first wife Janet 'Planet' Rigsbee, the mother of his daughter Shana, featured on the cover of his 1971 LP Tupelo Honey. They later divorced.

Yesterday it was announced that Van will join Buble on July 13 as part of the British Summer Time festival. Buble's headline slot marks his return to performing following a career break while his son battled cancer.

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