'Amazing' day as Van turns into a knight
From Van the Man to Sir Van - the legendary Irish singer more formally known as George Ivan Morrison was awarded a knighthood yesterday for services to music and tourism in the North.
The famously private and supposedly grumpy 70-year-old was all smiles yesterday as he stepped out of Buckingham Palace with his daughter Shana following his knighting by Prince Charles.
Asked whether fans could call him Van The Man or Sir Van, the singer laughed and said: "Well, take your pick."
The revered musician modestly described himself as just a "blue-eyed soul singer" despite a a musical career that has enthralled audiences and delighted critics.
For half a century the singer has gone from teen stardom to innovator and is now a respected veteran, whose classic album 'Astral Weeks' regularly makes the list of top 100 records.
After the ceremony, he told of his delight about becoming a Sir: "It's amazing, it's very exhilarating, the whole thing.
"For 53 years I've been in the business - that's not bad for a blue-eyed soul singer from east Belfast."
The performer, who was born in 1945, has blended his influences - R&B, blues, jazz, and country - into a unique mix that reflects his upbringing in Northern Ireland.
Sir Van's best known songs range from the 1960s tracks 'Baby, Please Don't Go' and 'Here Comes the Night', with the band Them, to solo efforts like 'Moondance', 'Sweet Thing' and 'Have I Told You Lately'.
Sir Van said he still remained committed to performing for an audience: "I enjoy that the most - playing a small club - that's really what I do.
"The bigger places you have to do for financial survival reasons, let me put it that way, but the bigger places enable me to play small clubs occasionally."
He added: "Sales of CDs and stuff like that are very unreliable, it has really gone down a lot, I'm lucky I can still do live gigs and still pull crowds and be able to do that."
The musician had a brief chat with Charles, who quizzed him about his plans for the future.
Sir Van said: "He was just saying, was I still writing? And he said: 'You're not going to retire any time soon?' And I said: 'No, I'm not, I'm going to keep it going while I can'."