(Donovan P. Leitch)
PERSONAL: Born May 10, 1946, in Glasgow, Scotland; son of Donald and Winifred Leitch; married Linda Lawrence, October, 1970; children: (with Enid Stulberger) Donovan Leitch, Jr., Ione Skye; (with Linda Lawrence) Astrelia Celeste, Oriole Nebula, Julian (stepson). Education: Attended Welwyn Garden City College.
ADDRESSES: Home—Ireland. Agent—c/o Author Mail, St. Martin's Press, 175 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010.
CAREER: Singer, songwriter, and recording artist. Worked at odd jobs and performed in clubs and bars throughout England, c. 1963–65; performed on British television program Ready Steady Go, 1965. Actor in films, including If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium and The Pied Piper.
Catch the Wind, Hickory, 1965.
Sunshine Superman, Epic (New York, NY), 1966.
Mellow Yellow, Epic (New York, NY), 1967.
In Concert, Epic (New York, NY), 1968.
Hurdy Gurdy Man, Epic (New York, NY), 1968.
A Gift from a Flower to a Garden, 1968.
(With Jeff Beck) Barabajagal, 1968.
For Little Ones, Epic (New York, NY), 1968.
Greatest Hits, Epic (New York, NY), 1969.
Open Road, Epic (New York, NY), 1970.
Colours, Hallmark, 1972.
Cosmic Wheels, Epic (New York, NY), 1973.
7-Tease, Epic (New York, NY), 1974.
Slow Down World, Epic (New York, NY), 1976.
Donovan, Rak, 1977.
The Donovan File, Pye, 1977.
Greatest Hits, Embassy, 1979.
Donovan: The Classics Live, Great Northern Arts, 1991.
Sunshine on the Mountain, Sony, 1991.
Troubadour: The Definitive Collection, 1964–76, Epic/Legacy, 1992.
Desert Island Disc: Donovan, Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (Los Angeles, CA), 1993.
Sutras, American Recordings (Burbank, CA), 1996.
Summer Day Reflection Songs, Castle Records (New York, NY), 2001.
Pied Piper, Music for Little People (Redway, CA), 2002.
Fairytale, Sanctuary (New York, NY), 2002.
The Very Best of Donovan, Castle Music (New York, NY), 2002.
The Essential Donovan, Epic/Legacy (New York, NY), 2004.
Beat Café, Appleseed Records, 2004.
Also released albums The Real Donovan, H.M.S. Donovan, Love Is Only Feeling, Lady of the Stars, and Neutronica. Composer of film scores.
Dry Songs and Scribbles, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1971.
(As Donavan Leitch) The Autobiography of Donovan: The Hurdy Gurdy Man, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Donovan attained fame during the 1960s and 1970s. The singer-songwriter's style and music combines folk stylings, psychedelic influences, and a cheerful naivete. Donovan's hits, such as "Sunshine Superstar" and "Mellow Yellow," became classics of the flower-power era. Donovan began writing poetry and music lyrics as a child, and by the time he was in his teens he was performing in coffeehouses, singing protest music with a folk feel, much as the American singer Bob Dylan did early in his career. Donovan's image gradually changed from activist to peace-loving hippie, and he incorporated diverse influences into his work. He traveled to India with the Beatles to visit the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and studied meditation. His popularity continued throughout the late 1960s, but he faded from the limelight as the 1970s progressed. During this period he wrote scores for films and worked on conceptual works such as 7-Tease, an album connected to a theatrical show featuring Donovan and a company of dancers. During the 1980s he devoted much of his energy to working for the peace movement in Europe, while in the 1990s he enjoyed some revival of his popularity, as contemporary bands released cover versions of his songs. "Although his heyday was relatively short-lived, Donovan's impact on popular music has been significant," stated a writer for Contemporary Musicians. "Many of his songs have stood the test of time, sounding fresh decades later—testimony to their irresistible hooks, unusual orchestration, and lyrical creativity."
Donovan tells his life story in The Autobiography of Donovan: The Hurdy Gurdy Man, published in 2005. Booklist reviewer June Sawyers described the musician's memoir as "a warm, gentle recollection of a turbulent time." A Publishers Weekly reviewer concurred that the book is an enjoyable read, stating, "Donovan writes his bohemian manifesto personably and earnestly."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Musicians, Volume 9, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1993.
Leitch, Donovan, The Autobiography of Donovan: The Hurdy Gurdy Man, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2005.
St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2000.
Booklist, November 15, 2005, June Sawyers, review of The Autobiography of Donovan, p. 12.
Bookseller, September 23, 2005, review of The Autobiography of Donovan, p. 10.
Entertainment Weekly, December 9, 2005, David Browne, review of The Autobiography of Donovan, p. 94.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2005, review of The Autobiography of Donovan, p. 1124.
Publishers Weekly, October 3, 2005, review of The Autobiography of Donovan, p. 61.
Donovan Home Page, http://www.donovan.ie (January 20, 2006)