Donovan Philips Leitch (usually known simply as Donovan) (born May 10, 1946) is a British musician. Emerging from the British folk scene, Donovan shot to fame in Britain in early 1965 after a series of showcase TV performances. His success was initially restricted to Britain, but after signing with the American Epic Records label and joining forces with producer Mickie Most, he developed an eclectic but very successful style that blended folk, jazz, pop, psychedelia and world music.
Donovan quickly rose to become one of the most famous and popular British recording artists of his day, producing a string of trans-Atlantic hit albums and singles between 1966 and 1970. He also became a close friend of The Beatles and was one of the few artists to collaborate on songs with them. Donovan's commercial fortunes waned after he parted ways with Most in 1969, and although he continued to perform and record sporadically in the Seventies and Eighties he gradually fell from favor, with his gentle musical style and 'hippie' image increasingly scorned by critics, especially after the advent of punk rock. Donovan withdrew from performing and recording several times during his long career, but underwent a strong revival of interest in the 1990s with the emergence of the rave scene in Britain. Late in the decade he recorded a successful album with noted rap producer and longtime fan Rick Rubin.
Early life and career
Donovan grew up in Glasgow; he contracted polio as a child but fortunately suffered no permanent injury. In 1956 the family moved to Hatfield, England. Influenced by his family's love for Scottish and English folk music, he began playing guitar at fourteen. After leaving school, Donovan and longtime friend Gypsy Dave traveled for several years around Britain, busking and playing folk songs.
Donovan began writing original material in the early 1960s and by late 1964 he had settled in London and signed a management and publishing contract. He recorded a ten-track demo tape, which included the original recording of his first single, 'Catch The Wind', a song that showed the unmistakable influence of Bob Dylan. Although Dylan comparisons followed him for some time, the tape also made it clear that he was already a performer of considerable skill and originality. He is a very fine acoustic guitarist and self-accompanist, a talent that is often overlooked (as it so often is with Dylan). Woody Guthrie was another obvious inspiration, but other significant influences in his formative years included Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Derroll Adams and Mac MacLeod.
While recording the demo Donovan became friends with Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones and Jones's girlfriend of the time, Linda Lawrence. She had already had a son to Jones, but when she met Donovan her relationship with Jones was breaking up. She and Donovan subsequently became lovers and eventually married (they are still together). Linda became Donovan's muse and was to have a profound effect on his music, inspiring songs including, 'Catch The Wind', 'Legend Of A Girl Child Linda' and 'Season Of The Witch'.
Donovan had a meteoric rise to stardom. His demo tape was heard by Elkan Allen, producer of the television pop show Ready, Steady, Go! , who was so impressed that he invited the unknown 18-year-old to appear on the show. Donovan made his TV debut on February 6 1965. Unusually for pop programs of this time, he played and sang live, his guitar emblazoned with the words "This Machine Kills" -- a direct reference to Woody Guthrie, whose own guitar bore the famous slogan "This Machine Kills Fascists". He was so well-received that he was invited back for the next two weeks, and immediately afterwards he was signed to a recording contract with Pye Records, whose other major pop acts were The Kinks and Petula Clark.
Donovan's first UK single, a new version of 'Catch The Wind', was released soon after his third TV appearance; it was a hugely successful debut, shooting to #4 on the U.K. charts and selling more than 200,000 copies. On 11 April he performed with the biggest stars of the day at the annual New Musical Express poll winners' concert at the Empire Pool, Wembley. The single was subsequently released on the small Hickory label in the USA, where it managed an impressive #30 chart placing.
Donovan's early musical style and appearance led to him being perceived and promoted as a British version of Bob Dylan and this brought with it a certain degree of criticism from folk purists, who wrongly assumed him to be a simple Dylan imitator. Not surprisingly, the meeting between the two musicians in April 1965 made headlines. However, although initially wary, Dylan was impressed by the young musician, as can be seen in D.A. Pennebaker's film of Dylan's '65 UK tour, Don't Look Back (which was released in 1967). As a result, Donovan was invited to tour with Dylan and Joan Baez.
Donovan's second single 'Colours' was released in May, reaching #4, accompanied by his debut LP for Pye, 'What's Been Did And What's Been Hid', which reached #3 in the UK album charts. Retitled "Catch The Wind" for the US, it reached #30 there. He made his first trip to the USA at this time, performing in New York with Pete Seeger and Reverend Gary Davis and appearing on Hullaballoo and Shindig, as well as performing to critical and audience acclaim at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival in July.
His next recording was a four-track EP, "Universal Soldier", which included his classic cover of the Buffy Sainte-Marie title track, along with three other overtly anti-war tracks. This was quite a radical move for an emerging pop performer -- the Vietnam War still had majority popular support in 1965 and Donovan's pioneering pacifist stance is conveniently overlooked by his critics; nor would this be his last anti-war recording. Despite its contentious subject matter, it was a significant commercial success, topping the British EP chart for eight weeks and even reaching #14 on the singles chart. It was also released in Australia, where it reached #17 on the singles chart.
'Colours' was also released in the USA but it charted poorly, reaching #40 on the Cash Box charts but only #61 on the Billboard chart. At this stage, Donovan's American success was greater in sales than in radio airplay, since American Top 40 radio tended to avoid folk recordings, preferring more highly arranged pop records. The Catch The Wind LP set the pattern for most of his American releases, which tended to chart better in Cash Box than Billboard, reflecting the fact that Billboard's charts factored in radio airplay, whilst Cash Box did not.
A single version of "Universal Soldier" was issued in the USA in late August 1965 but it repeated the mediocre chart performance of 'Colours', reaching only #45 in Cash Box and #53 in Billboard. Pye released Donovan's second UK album, "'Fairy Tale"', in October 1966, along with his next single, 'Turquoise'. These too were less successful than his previous releases, with the album only reaching #20 and the single peaking at #30. Donovan made a second US tour in November, and Hickory released the American version of Fairy Tale later that month but, as in the UK, it did charted much lower than the first LP, only reaching #85.
Collaboration with Mickie Most
In late 1965 Donovan split with his original managers and signed with Ashley Kozak, who was working for Brian Epstein's NEMS Enterprises . Kozak introduced Donovan to American impresario Allen Klein (who would later take over management of The Rolling Stones) and Klein in turn introduced Donovan to producer Mickie Most, who was then riding high on the success of his chart-topping productions with The Animals and Herman's Hermits.
Most produced almost all of Donovan's best recordings. The tracks they cut together represent some of the finest UK pop releases of the period, and feature the cream of the London session scene, including Jack Bruce, Danny Thompson and future Led Zeppelin members John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page. Many of the earlier Donovan-Most recordings were backed by jazz musicians, the most regular players being Danny Thompson (from Pentangle) or Spike Heatley on upright bass, Tony Carr on drums and congas, John Cameron on piano and Harold McNair on sax and flute. Carr's distinctive conga style and McNair's flute are an intrinsic feature of many of Donovan's recordings, and both players also toured the U.S with Donovan.
It has been claimed that Donovan introduced Page and Jones to each other and that this essentially created Led Zeppelin. In fact, Jones and Page had already known each other for several years -- they were among the top freelance pop musicians in London at that time, and worked on literally hundreds of well-known British recordings in that period, until Page retired from session work in 1967 to join The Yardbirds. Nevertheless, Donovan himself has stated that the 'heavier' sound of his 1967 single 'Hurdy Gurdy Man' had a definite influence on Page and Jones, although it is now generally accepted that the duo's work on the Jeff Beck single 'Beck's Bolero' (with drummer Keith Moon) was the real genesis of the Led Zeppelin style.
By 1966 Donovan had shed the overt Dylan/Guthrie influences and became one of the first British pop musicians to adopt a 'flower power' image. More importantly, his music was developing and changing rapidly as he immersed himself in jazz, blues, eastern music and the new generation of US West Coast bands. He was now entering his most creative and original phase as a songwriter and recording artist, working in close collaboration with Mickie Most and arranger, musician and jazz fan John Cameron.
The first fruit of their collaboration was the track 'Sunshine Superman'. One of the very first overtly psychedelic pop records, it was an innovative and eclectic blend of folk, rock, pop and jazz; the arrangement was augmented by prominent harpsichord, and set against a funky conga-driven backbeat. It also contained subtle but unmistakable references to LSD, notably the line "coulda tripped out easy, but I changed my way".
Donovan's rapid rise temporarily stalled in December 1965 when Billboard broke news of the impending production deal between Klein, Most and Donovan, and then reported that Donovan was about to sign with CBS Records in the U.S.. Despite Kozak's strenuous denials, Pye Records abruptly dropped the new single from their release schedule and a lengthy contractual wrangle ensued. As a result of this dispute, Donovan's subsequent U.K. and U.S. record releases differed markedly, with most of his LP being released in different forms on either side of the Atlantic and several significant album tracks from the late Sixties were not available locally in the UK for many years.
The legal dispute dragged on into early 1966, so during the hiatus Donovan holidayed in Greece, where he wrote one of his best songs, the wistful 'Writer In The Sun', inspired by the rumors that his recording career was over; he also toured the USA, playing some sparsely attended gigs. Returning to London, he collaborated with The Beatles, contributing lyrics (and uncredited backing vocals) to the song Yellow Submarine, which was recorded at Abbey Road Studios on 26 May 1966.
By late 1966 the American contractual problems had been resolved and Donovan signed a $100,000 deal with the CBS subsidiary Epic Records. Donovan and Most then headed to CBS Studios in Los Angeles where they recorded the tracks for a new LP, much of which had been formulated and written over the preceding year. Although folk elements were still prominent, the album showed the increasing influence of jazz, American west coast psychedelia and folk-rock, especially The Byrds, whose records Donovan had been listening to constantly through 1965.
The LP sessions were completed in May and Sunshine Superman was released in the USA as a single in June. It was a huge success, providing Donovan with the crucial American chart breakthrough, selling 800,000 copies in just six weeks and eventually reaching #1. The LP followed in August, preceded by advance orders of 250,000 copies, and it reached #11 on the US album charts.
The U.S. version of the Sunshine Superman LP is probably the best, most consistent and most durable of Donovan's albums, it remains one of the keynote records of the psychedelic era. It boasts superb songs throughout, with restrained but imaginative chamber-style arrangements featuring an eclectic range of instruments including acoustic bass, sitar, saxophone, tablas and congas, harpsichord, strings and oboe. Highlights include the swinging 'The Fat Angel', written for 'Mama' Cass Elliott of The Mamas And The Papas. The song is also notable for namechecking cult San Francisco acid-rock band Jefferson Airplane, well before they became known internationally. Other standout tracks include 'Bert's Blues', (a tribute to British folk legend Bert Jansch), the stately 'Guinevere' and 'Legend Of A Girl Child Linda' which ran for almost seven minutes.
In contrast to the pastoral tone of the rest of the album, several songs, including the title track, had a decidedly harder edge. The driving, jazzy 'The Trip' (titled after the L.A. club of the same name) features sitar by American folk singer Shawn Phillips , and was loaded with references to Donovan's sojourn on the West Coast, namechecking both Dylan and Baez. The third 'heavy' song, destined to became one of his most enduring recordings, was a brooding, portentous number called 'Season Of The Witch'. Recorded with a pick-up band he had met in an L.A. club, it featured Donovan's first recorded performance on electric rhythm guitar. The song was covered by Brian Auger on his first LP in 1967 and the Donovan version was used to great effect, years later, in the memorable closing sequence of the Gus Van Zant film To Die For, starring Nicole Kidman.
Because of the contractual problems, the album was not released in the UK for another nine months, and then in an altered form -- it had a different track order and omitted three important tracks, 'The Fat Angel', 'The Trip' and 'Ferris Wheel', replacing them with ' Hampstead Incident', 'Young Girl Blues', 'Writer In The Sun' and 'Sand And Foam'.
On 24 October 1966 Epic released the rollicking, brass-laden single 'Mellow Yellow', arranged by John Paul Jones and featuring Paul McCartney on uncredited backing vocals. Although it was rumoured at the time that the phrase "electrical banana" referred to the practice of smoking banana peels to get high, it appears that it was actually a coded reference to a vibrator -- the earlier line "I'm just mad about Fourteen" leaves little room for doubt that the primary theme of the song was sexual. Nevertheless, it became Donovan's signature tune and was a huge commercial success -- it reached #2 in Billboard, #3 in Cash Box and earned a gold record award for sales of more than one million copies in the U.S.
During the first half of 1967 Donovan worked on an ambitious new studio project. In January he gave a major concert at the Royal Albert Hall accompanied by a ballerina, who danced during a twelve-minute performance of the song 'Golden Apples'. On 14 January New Musical Express reported that he was to write incidental music for a National Theatre production of 'As You Like It', but nothing came of the proposal.
Later that month Epic released a new LP, Mellow Yellow, which reached #14 in the album charts, and a new non-album single, 'Epistle To Dippy', a Top 20 hit in the USA. Written in the form of an open letter to an old school friend, the song had a strong pacifist subtext, in spite of its florid psychedelic imagery -- the real 'Dippy' was at the time serving in the British Army in Malaysia. According to Brian Hogg, who wrote the liner notes for the Donovan boxed set Troubadour, Dippy heard the song, contacted Donovan and left the army as a result.
On 9 February 1967 Donovan was one of the guests invited by The Beatles to join them at Abbey Road Studios for the final orchestral overdub session for the brilliant Lennon-McCartney collaboration 'A Day In The Life', the grand finale to their new opus Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Donovan became the first high-profile British pop star to be arrested for possession of marijuana, which evidently occurred some time in late 1966. In Donovan's case, his drug use was evidently moderate, and seems to have been mostly restricted to pot smoking -- certainly he was not indulging on the Herculean scale of friends like John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix and Brian Jones.
Attention was first drawn to his marijuana use by a 1966 TV documentary, which showed the singer and some friends sharing a joint. The subsequent bust gained a great deal of publicity and in early 1967, Donovan was the subject of an expose by the British tabloid News Of The World (owned by Australian media magnate Rupert Murdoch); it was the first instalment of a controversial three-part series "Drugs & Pop Stars - Facts That Will Shock You". Although some claims were probably true, others were completely false. The most notorious instance was that of the Murdoch reporter who claimed to have spent an entire evening with Mick Jagger, who (he claimed) openly discussed his drug use and offered drugs to his companions. Only after publication was it discovered that the reporter had actually mistaken Brian Jones for Jagger (who promptly sued the paper).
Among the supposed revelations were claims that Donovan and other leading pop stars including members of The Who, Cream, The Rolling Stones and The Moody Blues regularly smoked marijuana, used other illicit drugs, and held parties where the recently banned hallucinogen LSD was used, specifically naming The Who's Pete Townshend and Cream's Ginger Baker as LSD users.
It emerged later that Murdoch's reporters were using their access to pop stars to gather information and then pass it on to the police. In the late 1990s, an article published in The Guardian revealed that it was News Of The World reporters who had tipped off the police about the party at Keith Richard's house, 'Redlands', which was famously raided in the early hours of 12 February 1967, just after George Harrison and his girlfriend had left.
Although Donovan's bust was nowhere near as sensational as the later arrests of Jagger and Richards, it had one especially unfortunate outcome -- because of the charges, he was refused entry to the United States until late in 1967, and so was unable to give his scheduled performance at the epoch-making Monterey International Pop Festival in June of that year.
International success, 1967-69
In July Epic released the single 'There Is A Mountain', which went Top Ten in the U.S. and was later covered by The Allman Brothers. In September he undertook a new tour of the United States. This time he was backed by a small jazz group and accompanied by his father, who introduced the show. Dressed in a flowing white robe, the stage decked with feathers, flowers and incense, Donovan played to a packed house at the Phliharmonic Hall in New York. His performance was rapturously received and immortalised by Lillian Roxon in her Rock Encylopedia. A similarly ecstatic performance at the Hollywood Bowl was followed by a notable landmark; Donovan's interview with writer John Carpenter became the first ever Rolling Stone interview in the magazine's debut issue, published on 9 November 1967. Donovan's concert at the Anaheim Convention Centre on 23 September was recorded and released as a live LP the following year.
Later in July 1967 Epic released Donovan's fourth album, an ambitious 2-disc set entitled A Gift From A Flower To A Garden, one of the first rock music boxed sets and only the third pop-rock double-album ever released. It was split thematically into two halves. The first record, subtitled "Wear Your Love Like Heaven", was written for the people of his generation that would one day be parents; the second, subtitled "For Little Ones", was a collection of songs Donovan had written especially for the coming children. Worried that it might be a poor seller, Epic boss Clive Davis insisted that the albums be split and sold separately in the U.S., but his fears were unfounded -- although it took some time, the boxed set sold steadily, peaking at #19 on the US charts and achieving gold record status in the U.S. in early 1970.
The psychedelic and mystical overtones of the work were unmistakable -- the front cover featured a heavily solarized photograph of Donovan dressed in a robe and holding flowers and peacock feathers, while the back cover photo showed him holding hands with Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. But surprisingly, the liner notes included an appeal from Donovan for young people to give up the use of all drugs -- a decidedly un-hip stance for a rock musician at the height of the Summer Of Love . His early public disavowal of drugs was no doubt motivated in part by his drug bust, but he was and remains strongly opposed to hard drugs -- a belief that was no doubt reinforced by the rapid physical and mental decline of his friend Brian Jones.
In late 1967 Donovan contributed a several songs to the soundtrack of the Ken Loach film Poor Cow. The title track (Originally called 'Poor Love') was released as the B-side of his next single, 'Jennifer Juniper', a song inspired by Jenny Boyd, sister of George Harrison's girlfriend, Patti Boyd . It was another Top 40 hit in the USA.
Like The Beatles, Donovan's developed a strong interest in eastern mysticism, and in late 1967 he travelled to India, where he spent several months at the ashram of the Maharishi in Rishikesh. The visit gained worldwide media attention thanks to the presence of (for a time) all four Beatles as well as Beach Boys lead singer Mike Love, actress Mia Farrow and her sister Prudence (who inspired John Lennon to write 'Dear Prudence'). In was during this time that Donovan taught John Lennon the finger picking styles like the claw hammer which Donovan had himself learned from his St Albans buddy Mac MacLeod. Lennon went on to use the technique on songs including Julia and Dear Prudence.
Released in May 1968, his next single was the swirling psychedelic nugget 'The Hurdy Gurdy Man', a song he originally intended for his old friend and guitar mentor Mac MacLeod who had a heavy rock band called Hurdy Gurdy . Donovan had also considered giving it to Jimi Hendrix, but when Mickie Most heard it, he convinced Donovan that the song was a sure-fire single and that he should record it himself. Donovan tried to get Hendrix to play on the recording, but he was on tour and unavailable for the session. In his place they brought in a brilliant young British guitarist, Allan Holdsworth. Jimmy Page also played on the session, and it is believed that John Paul Jones may have played bass with (possibly) John Bonham on drums. If so, this would make it the first recorded performance featuring the three future members of Led Zeppelin. Both Jones and Page have stated that the idea of Led Zeppelin was formed during the Hurdy Gurdy Man sessions.
The heavier sound of 'Hurdy Gurdy Man' was a deliberate attempt by Most and Donovan to try and reach a wider audience in the United States, where the new hard rock sounds of groups like Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience were having a major impact. Most's commercial instincts were spot-on, and the song became one of Donovan's biggest hits, going Top 5 in both the UK and the USA and Top 10 in Australia.
The same month, he recorded an even rockier single, the snarling, funky, freakbeat classic 'Goo Goo Barabajagal', a song which gained him an avid following on the rave scene decades later. This time he was backed by the original incarnation of The Jeff Beck Group, featuring Beck on lead guitar, Ron Wood on bass, Nicky Hopkins on piano and Micky Waller on drums. Not coincidentally, they were also under contract to Most at the time and it was Most's idea to team them with Donovan, another attempt to bring a heavier sound to Donovan's work, whlie also introducing a more lyrical edge to Beck's. However it was some time before these recordings saw the light of day. The two tracks cut with the Beck Group -- ('Barabajagal' and the single's eventual B-side 'Trudi') -- plus three others, 'Happiness Runs, Superlungs (My Supergirl) and Where Is She?, were shelved for almost a year.
In July 1968 Epic released Donovan In Concert, the recording of his Anaheim concert in September 1967. Featuring a cover painting by Donovan himself, it is notable for its long running time, its mellow jazzy feel and its excellent sound, with Donovan again leading the pack by being one of the first major pop artists of his era to release a live LP. Among the tracks (which include only two of his big hits) is Epistle To Derroll, a tribute to one of his formative influences, Derroll Adams, as well as length versions of Young Girl Blues and The Pebble And The Man, a song later reworked and retitled as Happiness Runs.
During the summer of 1968 Donovan worked on a second LP of children's songs, subsequently released as the double album H.M.S. Donovan. In September Epic released a new single, Lalena, a subdued acoustic ballad which only managed to reach the low 30s in the US charts. The album The Hurdy Gurdy Man followed; it continued the style of the Mellow Yellow LP and reached a creditable #20 in America, in spite of the fact that it contained several earlier hits including the title track and Jennifer Juniper.
After another US tour in the autumn he again collaborated with Paul McCartney, who was producing Post Card, the debut LP by recently discovered Welsh singing sensation Mary Hopkin. Hopkin covered three Donovan songs -- Lord Of The Reedy River, Hapiness Runs, and Voyage of the Moon. McCartney returned the favour by performing (uncredited) playing tambourine and singing backing vocals on Donovan's next single, the anthemic Atlantis, which was released in Britain (with I Love My Shirt as the B-side) in late November and reached #23.
At the start of 1969 the comedy film If It's Tuesday It Must Be Belgium was released, featuring music by Donovan. On 20 January Epic released the single, To Susan On The West Coast Waiting, with 'Atlantis' as the B-side. The A-side, a gentle calypso-styled song with a pointed anti-war message, was a moderate Top 40 US hit, but when DJs in America and Australia flipped it and began playing Atlantis heavily, it became a major hit, making the Top Ten in both countries in spite of its decidedly 'hippy-dippy' subject matter, a lengthy spoken introduction and its four-minute-plus running time.
In March 1969 (too soon to include Atlantis on the album) Epic and Pye released Donovan's Greatest Hits, which included several songs previously only available as singles -- Epistle To Dippy, There Is A Mountain and Lalena, as well as Colours and Catch The Wind, which had until then been unavailable to Epic because of Donovan's contractual problems. It became the most successful album of his career -- it reached #4 in the US, became a million-selling gold record and stayed on the Billboard album chart for more than a year.
In July Donovan performed at the famous Rolling Stones free concert in Hyde Park, London, which was in part a memorial to his old friend, Brian Jones, who had died only days before. Also that month the long-delayed Barabajagal single was finally released, reaching #12 in the U.K. but charting less strongly in the U.S. The Barabajagal album followed in August, reaching #23 in America.
The split with Most, and later career
Growing tension between Mickie Most and Donovan came to a head in late 1969 when they argued about the conduct of a recording session in Los Angeles. Most later explained that he had objected to 'hangers-on' in the studio and "a lot of goings-on that I didn't like" and he gave Donovan an ultimatum -- he was paying for the session, he said, and Donovan could either do it his way or take a walk. Donovan declared that he wanted to record with someone else, and their hugely successful partnership came to an abrupt end. They would not work together again until 1973's Cosmic Wheels.
After the rift, Donovan disappeared, apparently to Greece, re-emerging six months later to begin work on his next LP. The eventual result, which was both titled and credited to Open Road, came out in late 1970 and was a marked departure from his earlier work. Stripping the sound back a rock trio format, he dubbed the sound "Celtic rock"; the album was moderately successful but it marked the start of a gradual decline in his popularity and commercial fortunes, and his concert appearances became increasingly rare from this time forward.
The largely self-produced chlidren's album H.M.S Donovan was released in 1971 but failed to gain a wide audience. It was followed in early 1973 by his reunion with Mickie Most, the LP Cosmic Wheels; it was to be his last major chart success, reaching the Top 40 in both America and Britain. Later in the year he released Essence To Essence, produced by Andrew Loog Oldham and a live album recorded in Japan, which featured a previously unheard version of Hurdy Gurdy Man that included a verse written by George Harrison.
His later output included the albums 7-Tease (1974) and Slow Down World (1976). The 1978 LP Donovan reunited him for the last time with Mickie Most but fell on deaf ears at the height of the New Wave period. It was followed by Neutronica (1980), Love Is Only Feeling (1981), Lady Of The Stars (1984), and a 1990 live album featuring new performances of his classic songs.
Sony's definitive 2-CD boxed set Troubadour (1992) did much to restore his reputation, and was followed by the long-overdue 1994 release of Four Donovan Originals, which saw his four classic Epic LPs released on CD in their original form for the first time in the UK. He found a seemingly unlikely ally in famed rap producer and Def Jam label owner Rick Rubin, who was in fact a longtime fan; Rubin financed and produced Donovan's critically acclaimed 1996 album Sutras.
Donovan also provided songs for the 1971 movie The Pied Piper, in which he also starred, and for Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1973), Franco Zeffirelli's film about St Francis of Assisi. The title song from the Zeffirelli film provided Donovan with an unexpected publishing windfall in 1974 when it was covered as the B-side of the million-selling U.S. Top 5 hit 'The Lord's Prayer', by Australia's singing nun Sister Janet Mead .
Donovan and Linda have two children, Astrella Celeste and Oriole Nebula, and two children by his 1960s girlfriend Enid Stulberger, who have become actors, his namesake son, Donovan Leitch, Jr., and his daughter, Ione Skye.
A new album Beat Cafe has just been released on Appleseed records. It marks a return to the jazzy sound of some of his 60's recordings and features bassist Danny Thompson and drummer Jim Keltner and production by John Chelew (Blind Boys Of Alabama ).
In November 2003 Donovan was awarded an Honorary degree of Doctor Of Letters from the University of Hertfordshire.
In May of 2004, Donovan played "Sunshine Superman" at the pre-wedding concert for the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Denmark.
A tribute album to Donovan, Island of Circles, was released by Nettwerk in 1991.