Donovan Leitch was born in Maryhill, Glasgow,
Scotland, on the 10th of May 1946 under the sign of Taurus the Bull. His
Celtic roots and his father Donald's love of poetry and literature have been a
constant influence on his life and his music. The family moved from the tough,
rough and bomb scarred city of
The move to Hatfield had a profound effect on Donovan and greatly influenced his understanding of beauty and nature, themes he sought to express in his early songs. His music would eventually reach a whole generation during the revolutionary Sixties and continues to influence the poetry and lyrics of subsequent decades.
Donovan went to college and discovered a world of Bohemian ideas, Buddhism, poetry, art and radical thought. He went to Art school but dropped out.
In 1963, having worked a string of labouring and factory jobs, Donovan
heard the call of the open road. He hitchhiked down to St. Ives,
Returning to his parents' home in Hatfield after the summer ended, he
continued his self education in writing and learning acoustic guitar. Most of
his time was spent in local clubs around
His first professional break came when his managers, Geoff Stevens and
Peter Eden, introduced him to Elkan Allan, the
producer of the innovative T.V. show "Ready Steady Go," who took the
unprecedented step of booking Donovan for three consecutive shows. At eighteen,
Donovan suddenly found himself at Number Three in the
He followed this success with such Top Ten hits as "Colours," "Turquoise," and "Universal Soldier," along with his first album, 'What's Bin Did and What's Bin Hid'. Throughout the sixties Donovan expanded his following with such songs as "Sunshine Superman," "Mellow Yellow," "Hurdy Gurdy Man," "Atlantis," "There Is A Mountain," and "Season of the Witch."
In contrast to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Donovan stood alone as a solo performer in capturing the hearts and minds of a new audience, able to hold a huge crowds' attention with his guitar and his repertoire of original songs based on his love and respect for nature and his belief in peace and harmony. He marched against nuclear disarmament with the CND movement and wrote songs that railed against injustice in a materialistic and violent world. His concern for the environment was expressed in many of his compositions and continues to appeal to a new and young audience searching for some deeper meaning in their lives.
In 1965, almost single handed, Donovan introduced millions of his fans to spiritual truths, the time honoured path of Eurasian yoga. He realised the change for a better world can only come through the nurturing of love and compassion. His music carried this message of peace. Already a friend (and occasional uncredited musical guest) of the Beatles, Donovan was one of the high-profile British musicians who, with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and actress Mia Farrow, among others, were attracted to the philosophical teachings of the Indian guru, the Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi, in the late sixties and journeyed to India to study with him.
During the seventies and early eighties Donovan continued to perform and
release albums that expressed his passionate concern for the environment and
his search for spiritual awareness and knowledge. For contrast, he also
appeared as a guest vocalist on early shock-rockers Alice Cooper's
"Billion Dollar Babies" hit song. His albums 'Cosmic Wheels' and 'Neutronica' encouraged a resurgence of the peace movement
in the early eighties. This period was a time for retreat and living quietly
with his family in Joshua Tree,
In 1990, Donovan and his wife Linda returned to live in
In the summer of 1994, Donovan got together with a number of musician friends, including Noel Redding (ex-Jimi Hendrix Experience), Marianne Faithfull, Phil May (Pretty Things), Paul Jones (Blues Band) and stepson Julian Jones to present a tribute concert to Brian Jones at London's Marquee Club.
In 1995, Donovan presented a two part radio documentary on Joan Baez,
produced by Kevin Howlett for BBC Radio 2, and
completed a BBC radio documentary of his own life's work, which was aired in
the summer of 1995. Donovan also starred in a staged production of an Irish
legend, 'The Children of Lir', which played to rave
In 1996, Donovan began working on a new album ('Sutras') with 1995's producer of the year, Rick Rubin. A long time fan of Donovan's, Rubin has also produced the highly acclaimed comeback albums of Johnny Cash, and top selling CDs by artists as diverse as Run-DMC, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Mick Jagger, and Macy Gray.
Donovan's album on Rubin's American Recordings label is rich with Donovan's unique flavours and colours. The enchanting "Please Don't Bend," particularly, reaffirms a song- writing touch that is still golden.
For Donovan, this was more than an auspicious return to the public eye, it was a resumption of his journey: "Whenever I am asked where I've been all these years, my answer is that I was never an entertainer. I had to have a meaning and I had to be connected to an impulse. And now, today, I hear renewed acceptance of acoustic music with a consciousness of the planet, the environment," he says, "The very things I've tried to incorporate into my lyrics from the beginning."
The successes continue. Donovan's latest recording of his sixties song "Atlantis" with German girl band No Angels produced by the talented Leslie Manoki of Red Rock Studios, went to number 5 in the German charts, selling over 500,000 copies and going earning a gold record. The single was released as part of the Disney launch of the movie 'Atlantis the Lost Empire'. It is now selling very well on the 'Best of No Angels' album.
Current releases also include a new children's album, 'The Pied Piper',
by the major
A film of Donovan's life and work by the award winning documentary maker
Hannes Rossacher of DoRo Productions,
As 2003 drew to a close, Donovan's huge contributions to song and poetry
were given recognition by the
It has been a long road from 1964 to the present but Donovan is in fine voice and writing better than ever. Following the sell-out concerts Donovan gave in Manchester and London in January of this year, he returned to the town of his birth, Glasgow, on in May 2004 for another concert celebrating 'Sixty Four,' the year which saw him set out on his remarkable career and also the title of previously unreleased CD of recordings from that year.
His current project is 'beat café,' a new CD album of 12 cool new recordings licensed for worldwide distribution to the independent Appleseed Recordings label.
A true survivor of Rock and Roll super-fame, Donovan represents the finest level of songwriter / performer. He continues to present his unique vision of peace, awareness and understanding in his songs.