♦ Northern Irish rock singer and songwriter
Born in Belfast, he first came to attention as the lead singer with the Irish band Them, remembered for their epic pop hit "Gloria" (1967). Following his first solo hit, "Brown Eyed Girl" in 1967, he moved onto a different plane of achievement with the haunting Astral Weeks (1968), the prelude to a classic period of his work in the early 1970s, which includes Moondance (1970), Saint Dominic's Preview (1972), and the electrifying live recording It's Too Late To Stop Now (1974). Subsequent notable albums include Into the Music (1979), Avalon Sunset (1989), Back On Top (1999) and Keep It Simple (2008). His highly original fusion of soul, rhythm and blues, jazz and folk influences has resulted in peaks and troughs in his output across the ensuing decades, both in the studio and on stage, but he has continued to confound conventional expectations. He moves easily between high-energy rock and Celtic mysticism, and remains one of the most original and powerful performers and writers in rock music. He was awarded the OBE in 1996.
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