HE is a sixties’ legend, a poet, songwriter and was labelled as the ‘British Bob Dylan’, and believe it or not, he is celebrating 50 years in the business.
Donovan Leitch, known simply as Donovan, was born on Glasgow in 1946 and it was there that he had his early influences.
“When we had family get-togethers, I used to sit under the table with my cousins and listened to all the singing by my parents and older relations.” he said.
Then in the fifties, the family moved south.
“It happened often that families would move to England and we lived for a while in the industrial north, before settling in Hatfield.
“Other influences then came in and when I was around 14 years old, I was listening to pop music and the likes of Buddy Holly and The Everly Brothers.”
Holly became a particular focus of Donovan. “What fascinated me was the recordings and how they were made, I mean, Buddy Holly did everything: he wrote, sang and produced and even recorded the songs in a garage.”
“Then there was an R’n’B revival and a folk revival and it all came together.”
Donovan left home and played his music anywhere and everywhere.“I hitch-hiked around, then I realised that I was a poet but I wanted to put my words to music.”
When he was just 18 years old, he had his first hit, ‘Catch the Wind’ for which he received the prestigious Ivor Novello Award.
‘Colours’ and ‘Turquoise’ followed before ‘Sunshine Superman’ gave him a massive transatlantic hit climbing to number two in the UK and topping the American charts.
This was the start of a string of hits throughout 1967 and 1968 as ‘Mellow Yellow’, ‘There is a Mountain’, reached number eight and ‘Jennifer Juniper’ and ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’ got to five and four respectively.
He has toured and recorded sporadically since then, and last toured ten years ago.
“I have to be inspired to tour,” he tells me.“If I had a new record out, then I’d do it, but I didn’t want to be a full-time road warrior.”
“When I toured ten years ago, I did 48 dates but after that I wasn’t really bothered although I did a few festivals.”
Now back on tour, he visits the Albert Hall, Nottingham, on Thursday, October 15, the Montgomery Theatre, Sheffield, on Friday, October 16 and the RNCM, Manchester, on Saturday and Sunday, October 17 and 18.
Tickets are available priced at £25 to £30 (subject to booking fee) and are available from the box office and all the usual agencies.
On the back of it, a new album the ‘Donovan Retrospective’ album has been released.