Van Morrison was born in Belfast in 1945, the son of a shipyard worker who collected American blues and jazz records. Van grew up listening to the music of Muddy Waters, Mahalia Jackson, Lightnin' Hopkins and John Lee Hooker. Surrounded by every kind of musical influence - country, blues, jazz, and folk - from 13 he was playing guitar, sax and harmonica with a series of local Irish showbands, skiffle and rock'n'roll groups. By the time he rose to the fore of Britain’s nascent blues-rock scene as leader of Them, Morrison had already pulled years in the trenches, singing and playing with some of Belfast’s cagiest combos. His music has always incorporated the widely-varied influences he heard and absorbed since his childhood days on the streets of Belfast - long before the bands of his youth and his initial 1964 breakthrough with the band he formed, Them.
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