Today, Van Morrison is celebrating his 66th birthday.
You know his hits – from Brown Eyed Girl to Moondance – but here are a few things you might not have known about Van the Man:
1. Them and The Doors: Morrison was a member of the Northern Irish band Them from 1964 to 1966. In 1966, just before Morrison left the band, Them briefly toured in the US, and had considerable influence on a band they played with during their residency in LA: The Doors. The two Morrisons jammed together on ‘Gloria‘ on the final night at the Whisky a Go Go. “What a night”, recalls The Doors’ Ray Manzarek.
2. Morrison hated lip synching: As evidenced by this 1967 performance on American Bandstand, it’s clear that Van would’ve preferred to be anywhere but on that soundstage.
Reflecting upon the early days of his music career, Van recalls how the business “just put me in some awkward positions, because they were unreal – like lip-synching to the record on a television show. I can’t lip-synch, ’cause every time I do a song I do it differently. I just can’t sing any song the same way twice.”
3. Morrison was never paid for 'Brown Eyed Girl': The song, one of Morrison’s most recognizable, was given it’s distinct sound and radio-friendly pop touch (”Sha-la-la-lalalala”) by producer Bert Berns, owner of Bang Records. But because Morrison hastily signed a contract with Bang, he’s never (in his own words) received royalties for it.
Original title for Brown Eyed Girl was "Brown Skinned Girl". A title that worried the record company. Another worry was the beautiful line "...Makin' love in the Green Grass, behind the stadium, with you.." So an engineer edited a radio-friendly version of the song and switched Making love for a repeat of "skippin and a jumpin". Sadly some stations are still using this mangled version.