Donovan (born May 10, 1946) is a Scottish folk-rock singer, guitarist, and songwriter who premiered with a pair of albums on Pye in 1965, followed by a prolific run of titles on Epic between 1966 and 1976. After a self-titled one-off on RAK in 1977, he released a further round of albums on RCA during the early 1980s. His most popular songs include the 1966–68 hits “Sunshine Superman,” “Mellow Yellow,” and “Atlantis.”
He was born Donovan Phillips Leitch on May 10, 1946, in Maryhill, Glasgow, to Donald and Winifred (née Phillips) Leitch, both enthusiasts of British folk music. The family moved to Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England, where Donovan took up guitar at age 14. After a brief enrollment in art school, he embarked on the traveling folk circuit.
Donovan later cited English folkster Martin Carthy as a formative influence. In 1964, he took guitar lessons from singer-songwriter Mick Softley, a regular at folk haunt The Cock in St Albans. Later that year, he signed on with manager/producers Geoff Stephens and Peter Eden, who secured him a deal with Pye Records.
His rise to prominence is chronicled in the 1967 docu-film Don’t Look Back, filmed during Bob Dylan’s 1965 UK tour. Donovan is referenced throughout the film as an upstart rival to the American folk singer. During their meetup at Dylan’s hotel suite, they each perform a song: “To Sing for You” (Donovan) and “Baby Blue” (Dylan).
- What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid (1965)
- Fairytale (1965)
- Sunshine Superman (1966)
- Mellow Yellow (1967)
- A Gift From a Flower to a Garden (1967)
- For Little Ones (1967)
- Wear Your Love Like Heaven (1967)
- The Hurdy Gurdy Man (1968)
- Barabajagal (1969)
- Open Road (1970)
- HMS Donovan (1971)
- Cosmic Wheels (1973)
- Essence to Essence (1973)
- 7-Tease (1974)
- Slow Down World (1976)
- Donovan (1977)
- Neutronica (1980)
- Love Is Only Feeling (1981)
- Lady of the Stars (1984)
- BBC News: “Donovan remembers Dylan” (May 23, 2001)
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