Synopsis of Pop Music
"I'm just mad about saffron,
Saffron's mad about me..."
Plenty of artists explored psychedelic frontiers in their music, but Donovan was definitely the ultimate psychedelic troubadour. In the late 60’s, he produced an unforgettable string of songs that combined pop melodies, traditional folk elements and psychedelic sounds to create a style that was often imitated and seldom duplicated.
Donovan got his start performing folk-styled songs on an acoustic guitar on the English TV show Ready, Steady, Go. He was dubbed 'Scotland’s answer to Bob Dylan' and soon earned British hits with the songs “Catch the Wind” and “Colours.” He made his international breakthrough in 1966 when his new producer Mickie Most encouraged him to explore a more pop-friendly and psychedelic style of music. The first result was “Sunshine Superman,” one of the first true psychedelic singles. It caught the public’s attention with the phrase “blowing your mind” and went #1 on both sides of the Atlantic.
Donovan continued in the same vein on his next single, “Mellow Yellow.” This gentle, trippy tune with backup vocals from Paul McCartney quickly went to #2. The hits continued with songs like the calypso-styled “There Is A Mountain,” which set a 16th-century haiku to music, and the gentle love song “Jennifer Juniper.” The playfully poetic lyrics and the spacey sounds underneath them captured the mood of the Summer of Love perfectly and made Donovan a true pop star.
Other notable hits from this time were “The Hurdy Gurdy Man,” a moody tune delivered in a vibrato baritone voice, and “Atlantis,” an elegant, chant-like song about the ‘lost kingdom.’ One of Donovan’s most notable albums from this time was A Gift From A Flower To A Garden, a boxed double-album containing one record of rock music and one album of children’s songs. Songs from this period of Donovan’s work would also be covered by other psychedelic-oriented groups like Jefferson Airplane and Vanilla Fudge.
Donovan began to experiment with new avenues in his career as he moved into the 70's. In addition to recording albums and touring, he composed the score for the film Brother Son, Sister Moon and put together a stage show that adapted his concept album Seven-Tease into a musical theater piece. One of his most interesting credits in the 70’s was singing a duet with Alice Cooper on the song “Billion Dollar Babies.”
Donovan’s poetic story-songs continue to be as influential today as they were on release. He continued to tour and record throughout the 80’s and experienced a resurgence of popularity in the 90’s. He celebrated his return by touring with the Happy Mondays and recording a Rick Rubin-produced album, Sutras, that featured members of the Heartbreakers and Jane’s Addiction. He continues to tour today, still every bit the troubadour he has always been.
Artist Release History1965 - What's Bin Did and What's Bin Hid
1965 - Catch the Wind
1965 - Fairytale
1966 - The Real Donovan
1966 - Sunshine Superman
1967 - Mellow Yellow
1967 - For Little Ones
1967 - Wear Your Love Like Heaven
1967 - A Gift from a Flower to a Garden
1968 - Like It Is, Was and Evermore Shall Be
1968 - Donovan in Concert (live)
1968 - Hurdy Gurdy Man
1969 - Barabajagal
1970 - Open Road
1971 - HMS Donovan
1973 - Live in Tokyo '73
1973 - Cosmic Wheels
1973 - Essence to Essence
1973 - Live in Japan
1973 - 4 Shades
1974 - 7-Tease
1976 - Slow Down World
1976 - In Concert/Sunshine Superman (live)
1977 - Donovan
1979 - Troubadour
1981 - Love Is Only Feeling
1981 - Neutronic
1983 - Lady of the Stars
1992 - Live in Concert
1996 - Sutras
Pop Sub Categoriespop
Essential Music AlbumsA Gift From A Flower To A Garden (BGO)
Troubadour: The Definitive Collection 1964-1976(Sony)