1946 - Yes, date unknown
Has no ancestors and no descendants in this family tree.
|Relationship||with Francis Fox|
||10 May 1946
||Yes, date unknown
||10 Apr 2007 |
- a popular Scottish singer, songwriter , and guitarist. Emerging from the British folk scene, he developed an eclectic and distinctive style that blended folk, jazz , pop , psychedelia and world music .
Donovan rose to fame in the United Kingdom in early 1966 after a series of showcase live performances on the pop TV series Ready Steady Go! and his popularity soon spread to the USA and elsewhere. After signing with the British label Pye Records he began a long and successful collaboration with record producer Mickie Most , scoring a string of major hits in the UK, the USA and other countries, including several British and American #1 and million-selling hits.
Donovan was one of the most popular British recording artists of his day, producing a series of hit albums and singles between 1965 and 1970 . He became a close friend of many leading pop musicians including Joan Baez , Brian Jones , and The Beatles , and was one of the few artists to collaborate on songs with the Beatles. He influenced both John Lennon and George Harrison when he taught them his finger-picking guitar style in 1968.  Donovan's commercial fortunes waned after he parted ways with Most in 1969, and he left the music scene for a time.
He continued to perform and record sporadically in the 1970s and 1980s, but gradually fell from favour. His gentle musical style and hippie image was scorned by critics, especially after the advent of punk rock . Donovan withdrew from performing and recording several times during his long career, but he underwent a strong revival of interest in the 1990s with the emergence of the rave scene in Britain. Late in the decade he recorded a successful album with acclaimed producer and long time fan Rick Rubin and released a new album, Beat Cafe , in 2004.
Donovan grew up in Maryhill , Glasgow , Scotland . He contracted polio as a child when he was vaccinated (this was in the period before the introduction of the safer Sabin oral vaccine ), and the disease and subsequent treatment left him with a limp.
In 1956 his family moved to Hatfield , England . Influenced by his family's love for Scottish and English folk music , he began playing guitar at fourteen. He enrolled in art school but dropped out soon after, determined to live out his Beatnik aspirations by going out on the road. He spent the summer of 1964 in the small town of St Ives in Cornwall , often sleeping rough. It was here that he met his lifelong friend David "Gypsy Dave" Mills ( Gyp Mills ) , and it was during this crucial period that he began busking (street performing) and learning traditional folk songs on the guitar .
Returning to London, he spent several months playing in local clubs, absorbing the music of the British folk scene around his home in St Albans , learning the cross-picking guitar technique from visiting players like Bert Jansch and Derroll Adams , and writing his first original songs.
In late 1964 he was offered a management and publishing contract. He went to London where he recorded a ten-track demo tape (recently rediscovered and released on iTunes ), which included the original recording of " Catch The Wind ", his first single. That song revealed the influence of Woody Guthrie and Ramblin' Jack Elliott , who had also influenced Bob Dylan . Although Dylan comparisons followed him for some time, the tape also made it clear that Donovan was already a performer of considerable skill and originality. He is a very fine acoustic guitarist and self-accompanist, a talent that is often overlooked.
Other significant influences in his formative years included Jesse Fuller , Derroll Adams and British guitarists Mac MacLeod , Bert Jansch , John Renbourn and Davey Graham , and American blues and jazz artists including Muddy Waters , Leadbelly and Billie Holiday . In an interview with KFOK radio on June 14 , 2005, MacLeod stated "...the press were fond of calling Don a Dylan clone which is of course a load of rubbish as they had both been influenced by the same sources: Ramblin' Jack, Jesse Fuller, Woody Guthrie and many more."
While recording the demo at a studio in Denmark St, Donovan met and befriended Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones , who WAS recording in a nearby studio. Coincidentally, he had also recently met Jones's ex-girlfriend, Linda Lawrence. (She had already had a son by Jones, but when she met Donovan her relationship with Jones was effectively over.) Donovan and Jones became close friends and their relationship lasted until Jones' untimely death in 1969.
The meeting between Linda and Donovan was pivotal. They began an on-again-off-again romantic relationship that carried on sporadically for the next five years, and exerted a huge influence on Donovan's music. Linda refused to marry Donovan, and moved to America for several years in the late '60s. Although he had other relationships in between - one of which resulted in the birth of his first two children, Donovan Leitch Jr and Ione Skye Leitch - he remained strongly drawn to Linda, and she effectively became his muse . His confused feelings about her inspired dozens of songs, including "Catch The Wind", "Legend Of A Girl Child Linda", "Season Of The Witch", and many others.
Donovan had a meteoric rise to stardom. Within weeks of recording his demo tape, it was heard by Elkan Allen, producer of the pop show Ready Steady Go! , who was so impressed that he invited the unknown 18-year-old to appear on the show. Donovan made his TV debut on 30 January 1965 - a remarkable feat, considering that he had been a penniless vagrant only months before. Unusual for pop programs of this time, where performers typically lip-synched to a pre-recorded backing track, Donovan played and sang live. His guitar was emblazoned with the words "This Machine Kills"-a direct reference to Woody Guthrie, whose own guitar bore the famous slogan "This Machine Kills Fascists". Donovan was so well received that he appeared weekly until the end of April, and immediately afterwards he was signed to a recording contract with Pye Records, whose other major pop acts included The Kinks and Petula Clark .
Donovan's first UK single, a new version of "Catch The Wind", was released soon after his third TV appearance. It was a successful debut, rising to #4 on the UK charts and selling more than 200,000 copies. On 11 April , he performed with the biggest stars of the day at the annual New Musical Express poll winners' concert at the Empire Pool in Wembley . The single was subsequently released on the small Hickory label in the USA, where it achieved an impressive #30 chart placing.
Donovan's early musical style and physical appearance led to his being perceived and promoted as a British version of Bob Dylan. This brought a certain degree of criticism from folk music purists, some of whom assumed him to be merely a Dylan imitator. His meeting with Joan Baez during his first UK tour led to a meeting with Dylan himself, and not surprisingly, that meeting in April 1965 made headlines. Dylan was intrigued by the young musician, as can be seen in D.A. Pennebaker 's film of Dylan's 1965 UK tour, Don't Look Back (released in 1967); they became friends and met on many other occasions.
Donovan's second single, "Colours" was released in May 1965, reaching #4 in the UK, accompanied by his debut LP for Pye, What's Bin Did and What's Bin Hid , which reached #3 in the UK album charts. Retitled Catch the Wind for the US market, it reached #30 there. He made his first trip to the US at this time, performing in New York with Pete Seeger and Reverend Gary Davis , and appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show , Hullabaloo and Shindig! , as well as performing to critical and audience acclaim at the July 1965 Newport Folk Festival .
Donovan's next recording was a four-track EP called Universal Soldier, which included his classic cover of the Buffy Sainte-Marie -written title track, as well as three other tracks with overt anti-war content. Two of those songs -- "The War Drags On" and "Ballad Of A Crystal Man" -- were among the few protest songs of the period that went beyond generalized anti-war sentiments and made explicit references to the war in Vietnam . (In the U.S., it was Phil Ochs , rather than the better known Bob Dylan, who stood out in that regard.) This was a radical move for an emerging pop performer. Donovan's pioneering pacifist stance is often overlooked by his critics: the Vietnam War still had majority support in 1965, and he was one of the few British pop musicians who expressed direct opposition to the war in their music. Despite the contentious subject matter, the EP was a commercial success, topping the British EP chart for eight weeks, reaching #14 on the British singles chart and #17 on the Australian singles chart.
"Colours" was also released in the US, but it charted poorly, reaching #40 on the Cash Box charts but only #61 on the Billboard chart. At this stage Donovan had greater success in sales than in radio airplay, since American Top 40 radio tended to avoid folk recordings, preferring more highly arranged pop records. The Catch the Wind LP set the pattern for most of his American releases, which tended to chart better in Cash Box than Billboard, reflecting the fact that Billboard's charts factored in radio airplay, whilst Cash Box did not.
A single version of "Universal Soldier" was issued in the US in late August 1965 and it repeated the mediocre chart performance of "Colours", reaching only #45 in Cash Box and #53 in Billboard. Pye released Donovan's second UK album, Fairytale , in October 1965, along with his next single, "Turquoise". These too were less successful than his previous releases, with the album only reaching #20 and the single peaking at #30. Donovan made a second US tour in November, and Pye licensed this to the Nashville -based Hickory label, which released the American version of Fairytale later that month. As in the UK, it charted much lower than the first LP, reaching only #85.
In late 1965, Donovan split with his original managers and signed with Ashley Kozak , who was working for Brian Epstein 's NEMS Enterprises . Kozak introduced Donovan to American impresario Allen Klein (who would later take over management of The Rolling Stones), and Klein in turn introduced Donovan to producer Mickie Most, who was then riding high on the success of his chart-topping productions with The Animals and Herman's Hermits .
Most produced almost all of Donovan's best recordings. The tracks they cut together represent some of the finest UK pop releases of the period, and feature the cream of the London session scene, including Big Jim Sullivan , Jack Bruce , Danny Thompson , and future Led Zeppelin members John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page . Many of the earlier Donovan-Most recordings were backed by jazz musicians, the most regular players being Danny Thompson (from Pentangle ) or Spike Heatley on upright bass, Tony Carr on drums and congas , John Cameron on piano and Harold McNair on saxophone and flute. Carr's distinctive conga style and McNair's flute are an intrinsic feature of many of Donovan's recordings, and both players toured the US with Donovan.
It has been claimed that Donovan introduced Page and Jones to each other and that this essentially created Led Zeppelin. Jones and Page had already known each other for several years and they were among the freelance pop musicians in London at that time. They worked on literally hundreds of well known British recordings in that period, until Page retired from session work in 1968 to join The Yardbirds . Donovan has stated that the 'heavier' sound of his 1968 single "Hurdy Gurdy Man" had a definite influence on Page and Jones, although it is now generally accepted that the duo's work on the Jeff Beck single "Beck's Bolero" (with drummer Keith Moon ) was the genesis of the Led Zeppelin style. Contradicting an assertion in Donovan's 2005 autobiography that three of the four future Zeppelin members (Page, Jones and Bonham) played on the track "Hurdy Gurdy Man" - John Paul Jones has stated that neither Page nor Bonham played on that track. In 2005, Jones (who arranged the track and was Musical Director for the session) identified the full lineup on that session as: Donovan - Acoustic Guitar. Alan Parker - Lead (electric) Guitar. John Paul Jones - Bass Guitar. Clem Cattini - Drums. (Cattini has concurred with Jones' recollection.)
By 1966 Donovan had shed the overt Dylan/Guthrie influences and become one of the first British pop musicians to adopt a " flower power " image. More importantly, his music was developing and changing rapidly as he immersed himself in jazz, blues , Eastern music, and the new generation of US West Coast bands. He was now entering his most creative and original phase as a songwriter and recording artist, working in close collaboration with Mickie Most and arranger, musician and jazz fan, John Cameron.
Their first collaboration was the track " Sunshine Superman ". One of the first overtly psychedelic pop records, it was an innovative and eclectic blend of folk, rock, pop and jazz. The arrangement was augmented by prominent harpsichord , and set against a funky conga -driven backbeat. It also contained subtle, but unmistakable, references to LSD - notably, the line, "I could've tripped out easy, but I've changed my ways".
Donovan's rapid rise stalled temporarily in December 1965, when Billboard broke news of the impending production deal between Klein, Most and Donovan, and then reported that Donovan was about to sign with CBS Records in the U.S. Despite Kozak's strenuous denials, Pye Records abruptly dropped the new single from their release schedule, and a contractual dispute ensued. As a result of this dispute, Donovan's subsequent UK and US record releases differed markedly, with most of his LPs being released in different forms on either side of the Atlantic; several significant album tracks from the late Sixties were simply not available in the UK for many years.
The legal dispute continued into early 1966. During the hiatus Donovan holidayed in Greece , where he wrote the wistful song, "Writer In The Sun", which was inspired by the rumors that his recording career was over. He also toured the USA, playing some lightly attended gigs. He returned to London, collaborating with The Beatles and contributing lyrics (and uncredited backing vocals) to the song " Yellow Submarine ", recorded at Abbey Road Studios on 26 May 1966. 
By late 1966 the American contractual problems had been resolved, and Donovan signed a $100,000 deal with the CBS subsidiary Epic Records . Donovan and Most went to CBS Studios in Los Angeles, where they recorded the tracks for a new LP, much of which had been formulated and composed during the preceding year. Although folk elements were still prominent, the album showed the increasing influence of jazz, American west coast psychedelia, and folk rock , especially The Byrds , whose records Donovan had been listening to constantly throughout 1965.
The LP sessions were completed in May and "Sunshine Superman" was released in the US as a single in June. It was a huge success, providing Donovan with a crucial American chart breakthrough, selling 800,000 copies in just six weeks and eventually reaching #1. The LP followed in August, preceded by advance orders of 250,000 copies, and it reached #11 on the US album charts.
The US version of the Sunshine Superman LP is probably the best, most consistent and durable of Donovan's albums; it remains one of the keynote records of the psychedelic era. It boasts superb songs, with restrained but imaginative chamber -style arrangements. It also features an eclectic range of instruments including acoustic bass, sitar , saxophone, tablas and congas, harpsichord, strings and oboe. Highlights include the swinging "The Fat Angel", which (Donovan's book confirms) was written for "Mama" Cass Elliott of The Mamas And The Papas . The song is also notable for name checking cult San Francisco acid rock band Jefferson Airplane , well before they became known internationally. Other standout tracks include "Bert's Blues", (a tribute to his mentor Bert Jansch ), the stately "Guinevere" and "Legend Of A Girl Child Linda", an innovative track featuring voice, acoustic guitar and a small orchestra, and which runs for over six minutes.
The album is also probably the first pop recording to feature extensive use of the sitar , which was played by American folk singer Shawn Phillips . Donovan had met Phillips in London in 1965 and Phillips became a close friend and an important early collaborator, playing acoustic guitar and sitar on several major recordings including the Sunshine Superman album, as well as accompanying Donovan at numerous concerts.
In contrast to the pastoral tone of the rest of the album, several songs, including the title track, had a decidedly harder edge. The driving, jazzy "The Trip" was titled after the L.A. club of the same name; chronicling an LSD trip he took during his time in L.A., it was loaded with references to Donovan's sojourn on the West Coast, and name-checked both Dylan and Baez. The third "heavy" song, destined to become one of his most enduring recordings, was a brooding and portentous number called "Season Of The Witch". Recorded with a mixture of American and British session players, it features Donovan's first recorded performance on electric guitar. The song was covered by Brian Auger on his first LP in 1967, and Al Kooper and Stephen Stills recorded an 11-minute version of the song on the classic 1968 album Super Session. Donovan's version is also heard in the closing sequence of the Gus Van Sant film To Die For.
Because of contractual problems the album was not released in the UK for another nine months, and then in an altered form - it had a different track order and omitted three important tracks, "The Fat Angel", "The Trip" and "Ferris Wheel", replacing them with "Hampstead Incident", "Young Girl Blues", "Writer In The Sun" and "Sand And Foam".
On 24 October 1966 Epic released the rollicking, brass-laden single " Mellow Yellow ", arranged by John Paul Jones and purportedly featuring Paul McCartney on uncredited backing vocals. It was rumoured that the phrase "electrical banana" referred to the practice of smoking banana peels to get high, (see Berkeley Barb , perhaps because of this song). The phrase has also been considered to be a coded reference to a vibrator. Another line in the song that has caused speculation about its meaning is "I'm just mad about Fourteen", and in the version heard on the 1968 In Concert album, he sings, "I'm just mad about fourteen year old girls; they're mad about me."  The song became Donovan's signature tune and was a huge commercial success-it reached #2 in Billboard, #3 in Cash Box and earned a gold record award for sales of more than one million copies in the US.
During the first half of 1967 Donovan worked on an ambitious double-album studio project, which he produced himself. In January he gave a major concert at the Royal Albert Hall accompanied by a ballerina who danced during a twelve minute performance of the song "Golden Apples". On 14 January New Musical Express reported that he was to write incidental music for a National Theatre production of As You Like It , but did not come to fruition. His version of "Under the Greenwood Tree" did appear on "A Gift From A Flower To A Garden".
Later that month Epic released a new LP, Mellow Yellow, which reached #14 in the album charts, and a new non-album single, "Epistle To Dippy", a Top 20 hit in the US. Written in the form of an open letter to an old school friend, the song had a strong pacifist subtext, in spite of its florid psychedelic imagery. The real "Dippy" was at the time serving in the British Army in Malaysia . According to Brian Hogg, who wrote the liner notes for the Donovan boxed set Troubadour, Dippy heard the song, contacted Donovan and left the army as a result.
On 9 February 1967 Donovan was one of the guests invited by The Beatles to join them at Abbey Road Studios for the final orchestral overdub session for the Lennon-McCartney collaboration " A Day in the Life ", the grand finale to their new opus Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band .
In mid-1966 (evidently some time prior to June 11, when the case was reported in the press), Donovan became the first high-profile British pop star to be arrested for possession of marijuana . Donovan's drug use appears to have been moderate, and was mostly restricted to pot smoking - with occasional use of psychedelic drugs , including LSD and mescaline . Although he was not indulging on the scale of friends like John Lennon , Jimi Hendrix , and Brian Jones , his use of LSD is referenced in many of his lyrics, including "The Trip", "Sunshine Superman", "Wear your love like heaven", "Epistle To Dippy", and "Hurdy-Gurdy Man".
Public attention was first drawn to his marijuana use by the TV documentary A Boy Called Donovan, broadcast in early 1966, which showed the singer and some friends smoking cannabis at a party thrown by the film crew. However it now appears that the Drug Squad were already planning to target many major British pop stars, and indeed Donovan's arrest proved to be merely the first in a long series of high-profile busts, including members of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones . Donovan's drug arrest garnered a great deal of publicity, and in early 1967, Donovan was the subject of an expose by the British tabloid News of the World .
According to Donovan's autobiography, the article was based on an unauthorised interview given by an ex-girlfriend of his closest friend, Gypsy Davy. It was the first installment of a three-part series "Drugs & Pop Stars - Facts That Will Shock You". Although some claims were probably true, others were completely false. The most notorious instance was that of the News Of The World reporter who claimed to have spent an entire evening with Mick Jagger , who (he alleged) openly discussed his drug use and offered drugs to his companions. Only after publication was it discovered that the reporter had actually mistaken Brian Jones for Jagger, who promptly sued the paper.
Among the other supposed revelations were claims that Donovan and other leading pop stars including members of The Who , Cream , The Rolling Stones and The Moody Blues regularly smoked marijuana, used other illicit drugs, and held parties where the recently banned hallucinogen LSD was used, specifically naming The Who's Pete Townshend and Cream's Ginger Baker as LSD users.
It emerged later that the News Of The World reporters were using their access to pop stars to gather information and then pass it on to the police. In the late 1990s, an article published in The Guardian revealed that it was News Of The World reporters who had alerted the police about the party at Keith Richards' house, Redlands, which was raided in the early hours of 12 February 1967, just after George Harrison and his wife Pattie Boyd had left.
Although Donovan's bust was not as sensational as the later arrests of Jagger and Richards, it had one unfortunate outcome: because of the charges, he was refused entry to the U.S. until late in 1967, and thus was unable to perform at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June of that year.
In July Epic released the single "There Is A Mountain", which went Top Ten in the US and was later used as the basis for The Allman Brothers monumental Mountain Jam . In September he embarked on a tour of the US. Donovan was backed by a small jazz group and accompanied by his father, who introduced the show. Dressed in a flowing white robe, with the stage festooned with feathers, flowers and incense, Donovan played to a full house at the Philharmonic Hall in New York. His performance was rapturously received and immortalised by Lillian Roxon in her Rock Encyclopedia. A similarly ecstatic performance at the Hollywood Bowl was followed by a notable landmark: Donovan's interview with writer John Carpenter became the first ever Rolling Stone interview in the magazine's debut issue, published on November 9 , 1967. Donovan's concert at the Anaheim Convention Center on 23 September was recorded and released as a live LP the following year.
Later in July 1967 Epic released Donovan's fifth album, an ambitious 2-disc set entitled A Gift from a Flower to a Garden , one of the first rock music boxed sets and only the third pop-rock double album ever released. It was split thematically into two halves. The first record, subtitled " Wear Your Love Like Heaven ", was written for the people of his generation that would one day be parents; the second, subtitled " For Little Ones ", was a collection of songs Donovan had written especially for the coming generation. Worried that it might be a poor seller, Epic boss Clive Davis insisted that the albums be split and sold separately in the US. His fears were unfounded - Although it took some time, the boxed set sold steadily, peaking at #19 on US charts and achieving gold record status in the US in early 1970.
The psychedelic and mystical overtones of the work were unmistakable - The front cover featured an infrared photograph by psychedelic album cover photographer Karl Ferris of Donovan dressed in a robe holding flowers and peacock feathers, while the back cover photo by Ferris showed him holding hands with Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi . Surprisingly, the liner notes included an appeal from Donovan for young people to give up the use of all drugs-a decidedly un-hip stance for a rock musician at the height of the Summer of Love . His early public disavowal of drugs was no doubt motivated in part by his drug bust, but he was and remains strongly opposed to hard drugs- a belief that was no doubt reinforced by the rapid physical and mental decline of his friend Brian Jones.
In late 1967 Donovan contributed several songs to the soundtrack of the Ken Loach film Poor Cow. The title track (Originally called "Poor Love") was released as the B-side of his next single, "Jennifer Juniper", a song inspired by Jenny Boyd , sister of George Harrison's wife Pattie Boyd . It was another Top 40 hit in the USA.
Like The Beatles, Donovan developed a strong interest in eastern mysticism, and in early 1968 he traveled to India where he spent several weeks at the ashram of the Maharishi in Rishikesh . The visit gained worldwide media attention thanks to the presence of (for a time) all four Beatles as well as Beach Boys lead singer Mike Love , actress Mia Farrow and her sister Prudence (who inspired John Lennon to write "Dear Prudence"). According to a 1968 Paul McCartney interview with Radio Luxembourg  it was during this time that Donovan taught John Lennon and Paul McCartney various finger picking styles like the claw hammer (note that in the UK Travis Picking by Merle Travis is often referred to as claw hammer) which he had learned from his St Albans buddy Mac MacLeod . Lennon went on to use the technique on songs including "Julia" and McCartney with "Blackbird".
His next single was released in May 1968, the swirling psychedelic "The Hurdy Gurdy Man". In the liner notes from EMI's reissues it is revealed that the song was originally intended for Donovan's old friend and guitar mentor Mac MacLeod , who had a heavy rock band called Hurdy Gurdy . After hearing MacLeod's power trio version, Donovan considered giving it to Jimi Hendrix, but when Mickie Most heard it, he convinced Donovan that the song was a sure fire single that he should record. Donovan tried to get Hendrix to play on the recording, but was on tour and unavailable. Jimmy Page was also considered to play on the track but he was out of the country touring with The Yardbirds. They then brought in a brilliant young British guitarist, Alan Parker . It is possible Jimmy Page did play on other tracking sessions for the Hurdy Gurdy Man LP, although not on the title track. John Paul Jones played bass with Clem Cattini on drums. Jones and Page have stated that Led Zeppelin was formed during the "Hurdy Gurdy Man" sessions.
The heavier sound of "Hurdy Gurdy Man" was a deliberate attempt by Most and Donovan to reach a wider audience in the US, where the new hard rock sounds of groups like Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience were having a major impact. In this case Most's commercial instincts were spot-on, and the song became one of Donovan's biggest hits, going to Top 5 in both the UK and the US, and Top 10 in Australia.
The same month, he recorded an even rockier single, the snarling, funky, freakbeat classic "Goo Goo Barabajagal", a song which gained him an avid following on the rave scene decades later. This time he was backed by the original incarnation of The Jeff Beck Group, featuring Beck on lead guitar, Ron Wood on bass, Nicky Hopkins on piano and Micky Waller on drums.
The Beck group was under contract to Most at the time, and it was Most's idea to team them with Donovan in an attempt to bring a heavier sound to Donovan's work, while also introducing a more lyrical edge to Beck's. These recordings languished for quite some time. The two tracks cut with the Beck Group- ("Barabajagal" and the single's eventual B-side "Trudi") -plus three others, "Happiness Runs", "Superlungs (My Supergirl)", and "Where Is She?", were shelved for almost a year.
In July 1968, Epic released Donovan in Concert , the recording of his Anaheim concert in September 1967. Featuring a cover painting by Fleur Cowles, it is notable for its long running time, its mellow jazzy feel and excellent sound, with Donovan being one of the first major pop artists of his era to release a live LP. Among the tracks (which include only two of his big hits) is "Epistle To Derroll", a tribute to one of his formative influences, Derroll Adams, as well as lengthy versions of "Young Girl Blues" and "The Pebble And The Man", a song later reworked and retitled as "Happiness Runs".
During the summer of 1968 Donovan worked on a second LP of children's songs, subsequently released as the double album H.M.S. Donovan . In September Epic released a new single, "Lalena", a subdued acoustic ballad which reached the low 30s in the US charts. The album The Hurdy Gurdy Man followed; it continued the style of the Mellow Yellow LP and reached a creditable #20 in America, in spite of the fact that it contained several earlier hits including the title track and "Jennifer Juniper".
After another US tour in the autumn he again collaborated with Paul McCartney, who was producing Post Card, the debut LP by recently discovered Welsh singing sensation Mary Hopkin . Hopkin covered three Donovan songs: "Lord Of The Reedy River", "Happiness Runs" and "Voyage of the Moon". McCartney returned the favour by playing tambourine and singing backing vocals on Donovan's next single, the anthemic " Atlantis ", which was released in Britain (with "I Love My Shirt" as the B-side) in late November and reached #23.
Early in 1969 the comedy film If It's Tuesday It Must Be Belgium featured music by Donovan. On January 20, Epic released the single, "To Susan On The West Coast Waiting", with "Atlantis" as the B-side. The A-side, a gentle calypso -styled song contained yet another pointed anti-war message, but still became a moderate Top 40 US hit. However, when DJs in America and Australia flipped it and began playing "Atlantis" heavily, that song became a major hit, achieving the Top Ten in both countries in spite of its subject matter, its lengthy spoken introduction and its running time of over four minutes. "Atlantis" received a low-key revival in 2000 when Donovan performed a retooled version of the song in an episode of Futurama titled "The Deep South" (2ACV12) which first aired on 16 April of that year. In the remake, Donovan describes the Lost City of Atlanta featured in the episode.
In March 1969 (too soon to include "Atlantis" on the album) Epic and Pye released Donovan's Greatest Hits, which included several songs previously only available as singles-"Epistle To Dippy", "There Is A Mountain" and "Lalena", as well as "Colours" and "Catch The Wind", which had been unavailable to Epic because of Donovan's contractual problems. It became the most successful album of his career- and reached #4 in the US, and became a million-selling gold record and stayed on the Billboard album chart for more than a year.
In July Donovan performed at the famous Rolling Stones free concert in Hyde Park , London , which was in part a memorial to his old friend, Brian Jones, who had died only days before. Also that month the long-delayed "Barabajagal" single was released, reaching #12 in the UK but charting less strongly in the US. The Barabajagal album followed in August, reaching #23 in America.
Growing tension between Mickie Most and Donovan came to a head in late 1969 when they argued about the conduct of a recording session in Los Angeles. Most later explained that he had objected to "hangers-on" in the studio and "a lot of goings-on that I didn't like" and he gave Donovan an ultimatum-he was paying for the session, and Donovan could either do it his way or take a walk. Donovan declared that he wanted to record with someone else, and their successful partnership came to an abrupt end. They would not work together again until 1973's Cosmic Wheels.
After the rift Donovan disappeared, apparently to Greece, re-emerging six months later to begin work on his next LP. The eventual result, which was both titled and credited to Open Road, came out in late 1970 and was a marked departure from his earlier work. Stripping the sound back to a rock trio format, he dubbed the sound "Celtic rock". The album was moderately successful but it marked the start of a gradual decline in his popularity and commercial success, and his concert appearances became increasingly rare.
The largely self-produced children's album H.M.S Donovan was released in 1971 but failed to gain a wide audience. It was followed in early 1973 by his reunion with Mickie Most, the LP Cosmic Wheels. It was to be his last major chart success, reaching the Top 40 in both America and Britain. Later in the year he released Essence To Essence, produced by Andrew Loog Oldham , and a live album recorded in Japan, which featured a previously unheard version of "Hurdy Gurdy Man" that included a verse written by George Harrison.
Many people don't realize that's him singing with Alice Cooper on the song "Billion Dollar Babies."
His later output included the albums 7-Tease (1974) and Slow Down World (1976). The 1978 LP Donovan reunited him for the last time with Mickie Most but was not well received at the height of the New Wave period. It was followed by Neutronica (1980), Love Is Only Feeling (1981), Lady Of The Stars (1984), and a 1990 live album featuring new performances of his classic songs. The punk era (1977-1980) had provoked a backlash in Britain against the optimism and whimsy of the hippy era, of which Donovan was considered a prime example. The word "hippy" became a pejorative and Donovan's fortunes with the public and the media suffered in the prevailing mood.
There was a brief respite for Donovan when producer Martin Lewis invited him to appear alongside many of the biggest artists of the era (including Sting , Phil Collins , Bob Geldof - and two 1960s stalwarts whose popularity had sustained - Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck ) in the Amnesty International benefit show The Secret Policeman's Other Ball . Donovan was accompanied by favourite bass player Danny Thompson and performed several of his biggest hits including Sunshine Superman, Mellow Yellow, Colours, Universal Soldier and Catch The Wind. Donovan was also featured in the lineup of the all-star performance of Dylan's I Shall Be Released for the show's finale. Donovan's performances were seen and heard worldwide on the resulting album and movie, released in 1982. The movie captured one particular incident that relayed Donovan's determination and good humor. His initial appearance on the stage prompted one audience member to bellow "I thought you were dead!", to which Donovan responded "not yet!" The audience's reaction to Donovan's rejoinder, as witnessed in the film, was proof that he still enjoyed popularity despite the anti-1960s sentiments of the time.
Sony's definitive 2-CD boxed set Troubadour (1992) continued the restoration of his reputation, and was followed by the long overdue 1994 release of Four Donovan Originals, which saw his four classic Epic LPs released on CD in their original form for the first time in the UK. He found an unlikely ally in rap producer and Def Jam label owner Rick Rubin, who was in fact a long-time fan. Rubin financed and produced Donovan's critically acclaimed 1996 album Sutras.
Donovan also provided songs for the 1972 movie The Pied Piper , in which he also played the title role, and for Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1973), Franco Zeffirelli 's film about St Francis of Assisi . The title song from the Zeffirelli film provided Donovan with an unexpected publishing windfall in 1974 when it was covered as the B-side of the million-selling U.S. Top 5 hit "The Lord's Prayer", by Australia 's singing nun , Sister Janet Mead .
In 1977, Donovan toured as the opening act for the band Yes during their summer tour of the USA following the release of their Going for he One Album.
Donovan and Linda have two children together, Astrella Celeste and Oriole Nebula. Donovan previously had two children (by his 1960s American girlfriend Enid Stulberger) who have become actors, his namesake son, Donovan Leitch, Jr. , and his daughter, Ione Skye .
A new album Beat Cafe was released on Appleseed Records in 2004. It marks a return to the jazzy sound of some of his 1960s recordings and features bassist Danny Thompson and drummer Jim Keltner , and production by John Chelew ( Blind Boys Of Alabama ).
In November 2003 Donovan was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Hertfordshire . He was co-nominated by his old friend and mentor, Mac MacLeod.
In May 2004, Donovan played "Sunshine Superman" at the pre-wedding concert for the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Denmark.
A tribute album to Donovan, Island of Circles , was released by Nettwerk in 1991.
Donovan has also released his early demo tapes Sixty Four and a rerecording of the Brother Sun, Sister Moon soundtrack on iTunes .
A major set of his Mickie Most albums is on release from 9 May 2005 . This EMI set has dozens of extra tracks including another song with the Jeff Beck Group. In 2005 his autobiography The Hurdy Gurdy Man was published.
In spring/summer 2006 Donovan played at series of English festivals and two dates at Camden's Jazz cafe, London.
In January 2007 Donovan played concerts at the Kennedy Center , in Washington, DC, at Alice Tully Hall , in New York City, and at the Kodak Theatre , in Los Angeles, California, in conjunction with a presentation by film maker David Lynch supporting the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace. The concert at the Kodak Theatre was filmed by Palm Springs production company Raven Productions and is currently in post-production for an upcoming broadcast on PBS networks as a pledge-drive special.
In March 2007 Donovan played at least two shows at the South by South West event in Austin, Texas.
In May of 2007 Donovan is set to appear in concert and for a series of workshops and discussions at the Second Annual David Lynch Weekend, on the Maharishi University of Management campus in Fairfield, Iowa.
Donovan had planned on the Spring 2007 release of a new album, along with a UK tour. However, he subsequently announced on his website (viewed on 29 March 2007) that the tour had been canceled and the album release delayed. He indicated on his website that he is in good health but gave no other reason for the cancellation.