Claim to Fame
Salt and Pepper
British Invasion, Folk-Rock, Psychedelic Pop, British Psychedelia, Psychedelic, Folk, Singer/Songwriter, British Folk
Trippy, Delicate, Dreamy, Pastoral, Carefree, Whimsical, Bittersweet, Wistful, Eccentric, Sprawling, Earnest, Literate, Amiable/Good-Natured, Laid-Back/Mellow, Autumnal, Springlike, Gentle, Plaintive, Ethereal, Innocent, Summery
Vocals, Harmonica, Guitar
Soundtrack, Composer, Actor/Actress
Has Detailed Data (New)
Profile Bio Text
Even if you’re not a child of the ’60s, you know Donovan’s music. That’s because the composer from Glasgow, Scotland, has had his songs featured in many contemporary films and television programs.
Donovan Phillip Leitch was born February 10, 1946, in Maryhill, a small town on the edge of Glasgow. When he was 10, his family moved to England. On Saturdays, he’d take the money earned from working at a local fruit market and buy records, preferring 45s and EPs by the Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly. At 15, he left school to travel around the countryside. He met a man named Gypsy Dave, and they wandered through England and around the Continent, passing a hat for money as Donovan played guitar and Gypsy Dave played the kazoo.
When he was 18, Donovan returned to London. He frequently played at a pub in St. Albans, where he became friendly with a group called Cops & Robbers. Opening for them at a gig in Southend, Donovan met their managers, Peter Eden and Geoff Stephens. Songwriter Stephens was affiliated with peer’s Southern Music, and he brought Donovan to the peer office to record demos in the basement studio. Those tapes came to the attention of the producers of the British TV series “Ready, Steady, Go!” and they signed Donovan for an appearance. The reaction was so great, they brought him back the following week. Now pacted to peermusic as a writer, Donovan’s recordings were signed to a label called Iver, which in turn made a deal with Pye Records. Donovan returned to peermusic’s basement studio to record the version of “Catch the Wind” that was released by Pye as his first single.
In the U.S., peermusic’s Nashville office licensed Donovan’s recordings to the Hickory label, which released “Catch the Wind” in America. The single reached No. 23 in 1965. That same year, Donovan performed live in America for the first time, at the Newport Folk Festival. Following “Catch the Wind,” the Hickory label released the acoustic folk-oriented single, “Colours.” Then, Donovan sought out pop producer Mickie Most and played a new song for him. Most liked “Sunshine Superman,” and recorded the psychedelic tune in three hours on a Sunday afternoon. It was Donovan’s first single for Epic, and it reached the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 the week of September 3, 1966. More hits combining mystic ideas with pop culture followed, including “Mellow Yellow,” featuring Paul McCartney whispering the title throughout the song. Donovan says he wrote the song out of his love for early Mississippi jazz while on tour in Finland. During the ’60s, Donovan also had hits with songs like “Epistle to Dippy,” “There Is a Mountain” (the lyrics are a haiku set to a Caribbean beat), “Hurdy Gurdy Man” (written for another band who turned it down, and almost recorded by Jimi Hendrix before Donovan cut it himself), “Atlantis,” “To Susan on the West Coast Waiting,” “Jenifer Juniper,” and “Lalena” (featuring what Donovan calls an “old-fashioned” string arrangement).
During the ’70s, Donovan spent long periods of time in Ireland. He composed music for films such as “If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium,” “The Pied Piper,” and “Brother Sun, Sister Moon.” A book of his poems, “Dry Songs and Scribbles,” was published in 1971. In the ’80s, Donovan appeared at the Edinburgh Festival, and toured France and Germany. In the ’90s, Donovan worked with legendary record producer Rick Rubin on the album “Sutras.” Since the millennium, Donovan has had a top-10 hit in Germany, teaming with Popstars winners No Angels on a remake of his “Atlantis,” recorded for the animated Disney film “Atlantis: The Lost Empire.” He continues to tour, and has recently recorded an album of children’s music.
Couple Profile Source
Full Name at Birth
Donovan Phillips Leitch
Has Detailed Data (Music)
Donovan Leitch (son) (actor), Ione Skye (daughter) (actress)
Has Detailed Data (105)
Has Detailed Data (76)
Music Profile Complete
Music Genre (Text)
Folk rock, Psychedelic Folk, Psychedelic Pop
Musician, Songwriter, Producer
Vocals, Harmonica, Guitar, Piano, Banjo
Pye Records (UK), Hickory Records (US), Epic Records
Guitar, Harmonica, Piano, Banjo
Music Genre (Text)
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