Face of legend and lockdown critic adorns masks being sold online
Van Morrison has become one of the best known public faces of the protest campaign against Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns.
But now his face is being reproduced on masks designed to protect people against the virus.
Images of the Belfast singer are adorning dozens of masks which have been produced for sale on the internet by artists and entrepreneurs across the world.
The selection of masks is huge with the choices ranging from pictures of Morrison himself to his most famous album covers and posters.
It’s unclear if the producers of the masks have sought permission to use any of the megastar’s copyrighted images or if they have offered to pay Morrison’s companies to license them.
A number of other firms are using images on face masks of other stars like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen who has been a vocal supporter of people wearing face coverings.
One of the most prolific companies to advertise the Morrison face masks is called Redbubble, which has been described as ‘a global online marketplace for print-on-demand products based on user-submitted artwork’.
The Australia-based firm say they provide a platform for independent artists as a ‘meaningful new way to sell their creations.’
The masks promoted on their site sell for an average of £10 and among them are reproductions of the classic 1968 Morrison album Astral Weeks. Another album represented on a protective face mask is Morrison’s 1997 LP The Healing Game.
One face mask which doesn’t have any shots of Morrison instead includes the title of one of his most popular songs, Brown Eyed Girl.
Another has a picture of Morrison’s Belfast group Them who had hits in the Sixties with Baby Please Don’t Go and Here Comes the Night. A number of firms are marketing their Morrison face masks through Amazon.
Morrison has released a number of songs opposing public health restrictions which forced him to cancel or rearrange a number of concerts.
One of them was recorded along with guitar hero Eric Clapton who like Morrison is 75.
The song was called Stand and Deliver, a phrase associated with 18th century English highwaymen like Dick Turpin. The lyrics ended with the line “Dick Turpin wore a mask too.”
In the rock music bible the Rolling Stone magazine, Health Minister Robin Swann criticised Morrison’s anti-lockdown songs and accused him of delivering a smear on everyone “involved in the public health response to coronavirus”.
Morrison, who had referred to the government’s preventive measures over Covid as pseudoscience, took his protests to the stage of a postponed concert at Belfast’s Europa Hotel in June with a verbal attack on Mr Swann.
Morrison was joined in chanting: “Robin Swann is very dangerous” by the DUP’s Ian Paisley.
During the pandemic lockdowns, Morrison set up a hardship fund to help local musicians who were unable to earn money because of the Executive’s blanket ban on live music which he also challenged in legal moves at the high court.
He dropped the case during the summer after Stormont voted to allow live music to return.