NOMINATED ROCK HALL (2010)
The first British folk troubadour who truly captured the imaginations of early Beatles-era fans on both sides of the Atlantic, Donovan Leitch made the transition from a scruffy blue-jeaned busker into a brocaded hippie traveler on Trans Love Airways. As a folkie on the road with Gypsy Dave, Donovan began on the iTV’s Ready Steady Go! starting in 1964 and released several classics: “Catch the Wind,” “Colours,” Buffy Ste.-Marie’s “Universal Soldier,” “To Try for the Sun” and more. That changed in 1966, as he came under the production arm of UK hit-maker Mickie Most, and was signed by Clive Davis to Epic Records in the U.S. Donovan ignited the psychedelic revolution virtually single-handedly when the iconic single “Sunshine Superman” was released that summer of ’66 (and the LP of the same name with “Season of the Witch”). His heady fusion of folk, blues and jazz expanded to include Indian music and the TM (transcendental meditation) movement.
Donovan was at the center of the Beatles’ fabled pilgrimage to the Maharishi’s ashram in early ’68 (where, it is said, he taught guitar finger-picking techniques to John Lennon and Paul McCartney). Donovan’s final Top 40 hit with Most was “Goo Goo Barabajagal (Love Is Hot)” in the summer ’69, backed by the Jeff Beck Group. Donovan continued to record and tour sporadically during the 70s and 80s. During the 1990s, Rick Rubin (after working with Johnny Cash) produced Donovan’s Sutras. In the six years since Beat Café (2004), we’re learning just how much we miss Donovan.
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