Donovan (born May 10, 1946) is a Scottish folk-rock singer, guitarist, and songwriter who released his first two albums in 1965 on Pye, 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.”

Early Life

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.[1] 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

Donovan released his debut album, What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid, on May 14, 1965, on Pye Records.

In June, the Nashville-based Hickory Records label issued the album stateside as Catch the Wind.


Donovan released his second album, Fairytale, on October 22, 1965, on Pye.

Sunshine Superman

Donovan released his third album, Sunshine Superman, on August 26, 1966, on US Epic.

Sunshine Superman went unreleased in the UK due to a contract dispute. However, a 1967 UK compilation titled Sunshine Superman contains tracks from this and Donovan’s subsequent album.

Mellow Yellow

Donovan released his fourth album, Mellow Yellow, on February 10, 1967, on US Epic.

Donovan’s ongoing dispute with Pye blocked the UK release of Mellow Yellow but half its songs appear on the 1967 UK Sunshine Superman compilation.

A Gift From a Flower to a Garden

Donovan released the double-album A Gift From a Flower to a Garden in December 1967 on Pye (UK) and Epic (US). This was his fifth studio album but only the third to appear as intended in the UK.

In 1968, Epic released the two records separately as For Little Ones and Wear Your Love Like Heaven.

Donovan In Concert

In June 1968, US Epic issued Donovan In Concert, a document of the singer’s November 17, 1967, show at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Pye (UK) released Donovan In Concert in September 1968 in stereo and monaural versions.

The Hurdy Gurdy Man 

Donovan released his sixth studio album, The Hurdy Gurdy Man, in September 1968 on US Epic.


Donovan released his seventh studio album, Barabajagal, on August 11, 1969, on US Epic.

Open Road

Donovan released his eighth studio album, Open Road, in July 1970 on Epic.

HMS Donovan

Donovan released his ninth studio album, HMS Donovan, in July 1971 on Dawn Records (UK). The 74-minute set was his tenth overall album and second studio double-album.

Cosmic Wheels

Donovan released his tenth studio album, Cosmic Wheels, in March 1973 on Epic. 

Essence to Essence

Donovan released his eleventh studio album, Essence to Essence, in December 1973 on Epic. 


Donovan released his twelfth studio album, 7-Tease, in November 1974 on Epic.

Slow Down World

Donovan released his thirteenth studio album, Slow Down World, in May 1976 on Epic.


Donovan released his self-titled fourteenth studio album in August 1977 on Arista (US) and RAK (UK).


Donovan released his fifteenth studio album, Neutronica, in August 1980 on RAK (West Germany) and Barclay (France).

Love Is Only Feeling

Donovan released his sixteenth studio album, Love Is Only Feeling, in October 1981 on RAK (West Germany).

Lady of the Stars

Donovan released his eighteenth studio album, Lady of the Stars, in January 1984 on RCA (UK) on Allegiance Records (US).


  • 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)



  1. BBC News: “Donovan remembers Dylan” (May 23, 2001)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *