Donovan Phillips Leitch, better known simply as Donovan, is a musician, songwriter, and record producer from Scotland. He goes by the moniker Donovan. He established a unique and varied style that incorporated elements of folk music, jazz, pop music, psychedelic rock music, and world music (notably calypso). He has called Scotland, Hertfordshire (England), London, and California home, and he and his family have been residing in County Cork, Ireland, since at least the year 2008. Donovan, who had previously been active in the British folk scene, shot to prominence in the United Kingdom in early 1965 after giving live performances on the popular television show Ready Steady Go!
The 10th of May, 1946 found Donovan being born in Maryhill, Glasgow. Peter Eden and Geoff Stephens of Pye Records in London made Donovan an offer for a management and publishing contract toward the end of 1964. In order to accept the offer, Donovan recorded a 10-track demo tape, which was later made available on iTunes. The demo tape featured the original versions of Donovan’s first single, “Catch the Wind,” and “Josie.” Woody Guthrie and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, two musicians who had a significant impact on Bob Dylan, were heard in the first song as a clear inspiration.
After having signed with Pye Records in 1965, he recorded singles and two albums in the folk vein for Hickory Records. After that, he signed with CBS/Epic in the US – the first signing by the company’s new vice-president Clive Davis – and became more successful internationally. Having signed with Pye Records in 1965, he recorded singles and two albums in the folk vein for Hickory Records. He started working with one of the most successful independent record producers in the United Kingdom, Mickie Most, and together they produced a number of hit singles and albums in the United Kingdom, as well as other countries.
In 1965, he broke through to the public consciousness with three successful songs in the United Kingdom: “Catch the Wind,” “Colours,” and “Universal Soldier,” the latter of which was penned by Buffy Sainte-Marie. It was followed by “Mellow Yellow” at US No. 2 in December 1966, then 1968’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man” in the top 5 in both countries, then “Atlantis,” which reached US No. 7 in May 1969. “Sunshine Superman” topped America’s Billboard Hot 100 chart for one week in September 1966 and went to number two in Britain.
In the world of pop and folk music, he made friends with performers such as Joan Baez, Brian Jones, and the Beatles. In 1968, he instructed John Lennon in the technique of finger-picking on the guitar, which Lennon later utilized in the songs “Dear Prudence,” “Julia,” and “Happiness Is a Warm Gun,” among others. His backup band included members of the Jeff Beck Group as well as John Bonham, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones, all of whom would go on to become famous as members of Led Zeppelin. After Donovan severed his business ties with Most in 1969, his commercial success began to decline, and he eventually walked away from the industry.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Donovan continued to make the occasional appearance on stage and record albums. The critics were not fans of his hippy appearance or his musical approach, particularly following the rise of punk rock. His live performances and recordings became infrequent until the 1990s when they experienced a renaissance thanks to the rise of the rave scene in Britain. In 1996, he collaborated with producer Rick Rubin to create the album Sutras, and in 2004, he created a new album called Beat Cafe. 2012 was the year that Donovan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and 2014 was the year that he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
|The Hurdy Gurdy Man|
|For Little Ones|
|Wear Your Love Like Heaven|
|A Gift from a Flower to a Garden|
|What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid (UK)|
Frequently Asked Questions
What Nationality Is Donovan?
How Many Records Has Donovan Sold?
DONOVAN sold over 1,610,000 albums, including 1,500,000 in the United States and 60,000 in the United Kingdom.
Who Was Donovan’S Manager?
In late 1965, Donovan hooked up with manager Allen Klein and a new producer, Mickie Most (who also worked with the Animals, Herman’s Hermits, and Lulu), who steered the young singer away from acoustic folk and into psychedelic pop.