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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 August 2005, 07:39 GMT 08:39 UK
Tribute to 60 years of Van the Man
Fans of veteran singer Van Morrison have been paying tribute to him as he celebrates his 60th birthday on Wednesday.

Born in Belfast on 31 August 1945, George Ivan Morrison has penned such enduring hits as Brown-Eyed Girl, Gloria and Precious Time.

Morrison began his music career in Belfast at the age of 15
Morrison began his music career in Belfast at the age of 15

Fellow Belfast crooner Brian Kennedy said Van's songs "moved" him.

"The songs just really speak; they reach out of the speakers and put their arms around you and very simply sum up how you feel yourself," he said.

"His songs have the habit of turning up just when you need them - they're so reassuring.

"Sadness is never very far away, but there's also something very uplifting about it. He's been the soundtrack to many, many people's lives and particularly, at poignant times in their lives."

Irish singer Sinead O'Connor said Van's Astral Weeks' album was the "best record ever in the history of the world".

"I'm so jealous that it wasn't me that made it, as I'm sure everyone is. I've probably bought about 15 copies of it and played it out."

Affectionately known as Van the Man, Morrison left school at 15 to join local R&B band the Monarchs, touring throughout Europe before returning to form his own group, Them.

They scored two notable UK Top 10 hit singles with Baby Please Don't Go and Here Comes The Night but disbanded in 1966.

Within months the singer had returned to New York at the prompting of producer Bert Berns. Their partnership resulted in Brown Eyed Girl.

Sinead O'Connor
Sinead O'Connor said Astral Weeks was best album ever

Londonderry pianist Phil Coulter said Morrison's work would have a place in any hall of fame.

"He is one of the giants to have emerged, in popular music, in this or in any other generation.

"People like Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker have regarded Van as being in the same league and in the same game as themselves. That in itself says it all."

Mike Mills of REM said: "Van's still the man."

Maire Brennan from Clannad described Morrison as simply "phenomenal".

There's something unique that comes through him that doesn't come through any other musician on the planet
Mike Scott
The Waterboys

"Everyone thinks that Have I Told You Lately is a love song, but it's a spiritual song. It's amazing how he can get it across, and his fluency in his words.

"It's his groove, it's his shuffle, it's his blues. And it's his Irishness as well. His heart beats with all kinds of music. He's really the master of music for me."

Mike Scott from The Waterboys said Morrison had always been true to himself in his music.

"There's something unique that comes through him that doesn't come through any other musician on the planet. And he's transmitted that faithfully for 40 years."

BBC Radio Ulster marked his musical legacy with a Morrison track every hour on Wednesday as well as a selection of dedicated programmes.

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