Donovan Philips Leitch (born May 19, 1946 in Maryhill, Glasgow), better known as simply Donovan, is a Scottish singer, songwriter, and musician. Originally a ’60s folk singer, as the decade progressed Donovan cultivated his own unique eclectic sound, mixing elements of folk, pop, jazz, world music and more, often with a twinge of psychedelia. His most well-known work was suffused with altruistic political overtones, making him an iconic figure of the “flower power” counter-culture of the ’60s.
Donovan came to fame in the United Kingdom in early 1965 with a series of live performances on the television pop series, Ready Steady Go!. He first hit the charts in 1965 with his single “Catch the Wind”, continuing on with a string of hits, most of them produced by Mickie Most. Donovan’s 1966 Sunshine Superman marked not only a transition to the burgeoning psychedelic scene, but is also viewed as a formative album in its genre, inspiring countless contemporaries. His 1967 double album A Gift From A Flower To A Garden—the first major album released as a boxed set—completed the transition from beat poet folkster to hippie troubadour.
As a close friend of The Beatles, he traveled with them to India during their stay at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and taught them the “clawhammer” finger-picking style, which is featured on several tracks on their seminal 1968 double album The Beatles, better known as “The White Album.”
Donovan grew up in Maryhill, Glasgow, Scotland. He contracted polio as a child when he was vaccinated (this was in the period before the introduction of the safer Sabin oral vaccine), and the disease and subsequent treatment left him with a limp.
In mid-1966, Donovan became the first high-profile British pop star to be arrested for possession of marijuana. Donovan's drug use appears to have been moderate, and was mostly restricted to pot smoking — with occasional use of LSD and mescaline, although he was not indulging on the herculean scale of friends like John Lennon and Brian Jones; his use of LSD is referred to in many of his lyrics, including "The Trip", "Sunshine Superman", "Wear Your Love Like Heaven", "Epistle To Dippy", and "Hurdy-Gurdy Man".
In 2005, his autobiography The Hurdy Gurdy Man was published.