George Morrison was a shipyard electrician, a working class bloke from Belfast, Northern Ireland, a Protestant, and an Ulster Scot (an ethnic group known in America as Scots-Irish). He’d also spent time wotking in Detroit, Michigan in the early 1950s. While there he amassed a large record collection of blues, R&B, jazz, gospel, folk, and country music, featuring the greatest artists America had to offer. When George returned to Northern Ireland, the record collection went home with him.
Those records made a life-changing impression on George’s son, George Ivan “Van” Morrison (born August 31, 1945). The younger Morrison fell under the spell of music, leading his father to gift his eleven-year-old son an acoustic guitar. From then on Van Morrison’s path was set. He formed his first band, a skiffle group, the following year, followed quickly by other new bands as his talent and skill grew and improved.
In the spring of 1964, Morrison organized “Them”, an influential Belfast band that would launch his career. While Them only managed to produce a few hits, the bands influence, and especially Morrison’s influence on popular music outlasted their longevity. There were many personnel changes in the short two years of their peak fame, and circa August 1965, a couple of disgruntled band members left Them, causing an awkward situation when they formed a second band called Them. Legal suits followed, and eventually they were forced to adapt a different name. More troubles arose when a question of distribution of money led to disharmony between and among the band and its managers. Morrison left Them in late 1966 after a tour of North America in 1966, embarking on a solo career.
The legacy of Them and Morrison was the great influence their music had on rock and roll over the following years.
1964 – Them – “Baby, Please Don’t Go” (2:48):
1964 – Them – “Gloria” (2:45):
1965 – Them – “Here Comes the Night” (2:47):
1965 – Them – “Mystic Eyes (Mono Version)” (2:43):
1967 – Van Morrison – “Brown Eyed Girl (Official Audio)” (3:05):
1970 – Van Morrison – “Moondance” (4:33):
1970 – Van Morrison – “Domino” (3:05):
“Van Morrison, Jeff Beck and Tom Jones – Bring It On Home To Me, Trouble In Mind” (5:02):
Question Of The Night: Most underrated musician is?