Van Morrison was never excited about building his musical career in America.
Unlike many U.K. artists who dreamed of going to the land of Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly in the 1960s, the Belfast native says he crossed the Atlantic only for the chance to record.
During a recent interview with Ireland's RTE, Morrison explained that he had to leave Belfast, where there was not much opportunity. He finally said "yes" to a deal with New York record producer Bert Berns.
Van Morrison says there was no pop music industry in Ireland when he grew up in the early '60s:
"Ireland is not like it is today. It's much different. There was really no music business in Ireland. Like anything like it was today, so everybody had to leave. Basically, everybody had to go to London, that's where it was happening. And there was no Internet, there was no mobile... so none of that stuff. So you had to go where it was. And then you had to go through a process there of doing the work and getting where you wanted to get."
Morrison's goal was to build his career in London -- especially since his father and several relatives weren't thrilled with the experiences in the U.S..
Van Morrison says he didn't plan to come to America when he began his recording career:
"Absolutely no intention of going to America, whatsoever. Because my father [had] been in America and he came back. He didn't particularly like it. And I had like lots of aunts and uncles that went to America and they didn't particularly like it. Used to come back here and see them and they were homesick and they didn't want to go back. So I didn't have that kind of 'America is the promised land,' thing."
While Van was in London, his band Them had success with "Gloria" and "Here Comes the Night," which was written and produced by Bert Berns. But after he went solo, Phillips Records dragged their heels on signing him. Then, he got a tip that Berns wanted to work with him again.
Van Morrison talked about how how an offer from New York-based producer brought him to New York:
"I went to America because, I was supposed to get deal here -- there's a guy called Leslie Mann, he was a local representative for Philips Records here in Belfast. And I was talking to him over a period of time and it was like nothing is happening. So meanwhile, someone had seen Bert Berns and I got a message to ring him because he said, they said Bert started a record company, he wants... to produce some tracks with you."
That conversation brought Morrison to New York, where Berns produced Morrison's iconic song "Brown Eyed Girl."