Van Morrison cheered by Brit award: The record industry salutes a rock legend for his outstanding contribution. David Lister reports

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The Independent Online
ONE of the most enduring, if most miserable talents in rock music was honoured last night when the Belfast-born singer Van Morrison received a special award for outstanding contribution to the British record industry. After receiving the award he sang to a celebrity audience at the Brits, the premier rock and pop awards ceremony, held at Alexandra Palace in north London, and followed by a party complete with casino, ferris wheel and clairvoyants.

Morrison has been known for his reticence in public since he became a star in the mid-1960s, and much of the conversation over dinner concerned whether he would make an acceptance speech. He has said he sees no difference between being a rock star and a window cleaner - a previous, shorter career - so it was no surprise that he only mumbled a few words.

Rob Dickins, the record company chief who chairs the Brits committee, said diplomatically afterwards: 'His music speaks more than he ever will.'

Other pop stars, though, do seem to have mellowed with age. The awards were hosted by Elton John, who in the past has been contemptuous of awards ceremonies. But he has a new single out and had the chance to perform it last night before an international television audience.

Nearly all the awards had a contemporary feel, as if in reply to criticisms of previous years. Best female singer was Dina Carroll; best male singer Sting; best group Stereo MCs; dance act M People; newcomer Gabrielle; single 'Pray' by Take That; album 'Connected' by Stereo MCs; producer Brian Eno; video 'Pray'.

Bjork, from Iceland, was voted best international female singer and best international newcomer. Best international male was Lenny Kravitz, best international group was Crowded House, and best soundtrack, The Bodyguard.

The voting for last night's awards was changed following allegations of rigging last year. But a Brits awards without any anomalies would be a strange animal. Among the nominations for the best film soundtrack was The Jungle Book, a film which may have been re-released last year but one that was made in 1967. Asked about this, Mr Dickins replied: 'It has some great tunes.'

(Photograph omitted)