LONDON (Reuters) - Irish music stars Bob Geldof, Hozier and Paul Casey as well as Ireland's President Michael Higgins will be among those taking part in a special music tribute next week to celebrate Van Morrison's 75th birthday.
In celebration of the life and music of Belfast-born Morrison, who began his career with the band Them and rose to fame as a solo artist with his 1967 hit "Brown Eyed Girl", organisers HotPress have asked 75 Irish artists to record videos of his songs, premiering them nightly on YouTube for the last three weeks until Sept. 15.
In a special event on Aug. 31, performances to be broadcast include Higgins playing 'Rave On, John Donne' alongside composer Bill Whelan, Paul Casey & Friends featuring Terri Hooley who will play 'In The Days Before Rock ’n’ Roll', and Mary Coughlan who will perform 'Warm Love'.
Geldof said he had chosen the song 'I'm Tired Joey Boy'.
"That attitude that emanates from those records, that attitude that Van still has of dislocation, of being at an angle always to both contemporary music and society, is really interesting to observe, as a person," Geldof said.
"But to hear it in the music is constantly interesting, which is why he, probably uniquely amongst his contemporaries, is still deeply relevant."
Morrison, whose album "Astral Weeks" is often cited as one of rock music's greatest achievements, said he was surprised to still be performing at his age, saying his successes had at times seemed fragile. "Quite frankly, I didn't actually think that I'd still be singing now," he said.
"In the old days, you were always told by the management companies and everybody that it wasn't gonna last ... you didn't really know, it was all very touch and go."
The veteran musician, who still sells out major venues with his soulful blend of blues, jazz and Celtic music, has a reputation for being cantankerous.
In comments on his website this week, Morrison called on music professionals to support him in a bid to get the industry back on its feet during the pandemic, saying socially distanced gigs were not sustainable and concerts had to return to full capacity audiences.
"I call on my fellow singers, musicians, writers, producers, promoters and others in the industry to fight with me on this," he wrote. "Come forward, stand up, fight the pseudo-science and speak up."
(Writing by Raissa Kasolowsky; Editing by Giles Elgood)