February 4, 2016: That’s Sir Van Morrison to You

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Sir Van Morrison at his Knighthood ceremony at Buckingham Palace

Sir Van Morrison at his Knighthood ceremony at Buckingham Palace

In June 2015, it was announced that Van Morrison would be receiving the highest accolade given to a citizen of the British empire – knighthood. The self-described “blue-eyed soul singer from east Belfast” was officially knighted on February 4, 2016 for his services to music and tourism in Northern Ireland, which he has written about in song over the years with affection, reverence and beauty.

The writer of such classic rock hits as “Brown Eyed Girl,” “Moondance” and “Jackie Wilson Said” as well as album staples Astral Weeks and Tupelo Honey joined such rock icons as Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Tom Jones and Elton John to receive the honor.

Sir George Ivan Morrison was delighted to receive the honor at Buckingham Palace, describing the experience as “amazing” and “exhilarating.” The dubbing ceremony was conveyed by Prince Charles. When a reporter asked if his fans could still call him “Van the Man,” the singer joked: “Take your pick.”

The now-72-year-old Morrison has nearly six decades of making music under his belt, specializing in a unique combination of blues, jazz, R&B, country and classic rock. Morrison reasserted his stature as one of rock music’s finest singers and songwriters with the release of his 2016 album – Keep Me Singing – which we described as “like a lost vintage Morrison classic from his ’70s heyday while at the same time it’s very much the deepest outpourings of an older man.” It’s featured in our 2016 recap of new albums from classic rock greats.

Related: Morrison’s legendary 1974 live album expanded

Morrison fans might also be interested in the most thorough collection of his early studio and live performances ever assembled – a 2015 three-CD box set entitled The Complete Them 1964-1967. The band Them may have been short-lived, but its influence on Morrison – and beyond – is undeniable. The set includes all recorded material for the band’s first two albums, The Angry Young Them (1965) and Them Again (1966), as well as a host of singles, demos, live sessions, alternative takes and rarities from that fruitful three-year span. All 70 tracks have been remastered, and the 16-page booklet that accompanies the collection contains liner notes penned by Morrison himself.

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