The Beatles weren't the only major act to emerge from the British Isles in the '60s. The Scottish musician Donovan Philips Leitch, better known simply by his stage name, Donovan, has a powerful legacy all his own, confirmed by his 2012 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and 2014 induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Famed for the ethereal sound of his psychedelic folk rock, Donovan has forever made his mark on the genre with unforgettable singles like "Mellow Yellow" and "Sunshine Superman."
Donovan was born in Glasgow but moved to a town just outside London around the time he turned 10. By 14, he had picked up the guitar and begun to hone his skills, concentrating especially on his signature crosspicking technique. At 18, Donovan released his first demo. He gained early notice in 1965 with high-charting U.K. singles like "Catch the Wind," "Universal Soldier" and "Colours," all of which made it onto the Billboard Hot 100. Donovan soon went on to really shake things up with his popular album, Sunshine Superman, in 1966. The title track rose to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
The following year, Donovan fared similarly well with the release of his album Mellow Yellow. Again, the title track rose high on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 2. "Mellow Yellow" remains one of Donovan's most enduring songs today.
In 1968, Donovan found great success with the release of The Hurdy Gurdy Man, which, in addition to scoring a No. 5 position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with its title track, spawned a second high-charting single, "Juniper Jennifer."
Donovan's relationships with other musicians
Donovan is credited with having significant influence on none other than the Beatles. He spent time with them on their famous trip to India in the '60s, teaching them not only the crosspicking technique that would influence their later records, but also sparking an interest in eastern philosophy and transcendental meditation. Donovan's influence was particularly noticeable on The White Album; he was even asked to help write "Julia."
Throughout his career, Donovan has also been the subject of frequent comparisons, sometimes even called "Britain's answer to Bob Dylan." The two were influenced by a very similar body of artists, including Woody Guthrie and Ramblin' Jack Elliott. Perhaps most notably, like Dylan, Donovan is first and foremost a poet who aims to return poetry to pop culture.
Similar to Donovan
Epic events and incredible deals straight to your inbox.