Initially dogged by comparisons to Bob Dylan, Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan found transatlantic pop success in the mid-’60s with psychedelic pop songs like “Sunshine Superman” and “Mellow Yellow.”
• Born in Glasgow, Donovan moved with his family to Hertfordshire, England, when he was 10. He picked up the guitar at age 14 and performed in local clubs before making his first recordings in 1964, when he was 18.
• Donovan got off to fast start, releasing nine albums between 1965 and 1971. The first, 1965’s What's Bin Did and What's Bin Hid (released in the US as Catch the Wind), reached No. 3 in the UK and yielded the Top 5 UK single “Catch the Wind.” The second, Fairytale (also released in ’65), went Top 20 in the UK, and the single “Colours” became his second Top 5 hit.
• His third album, 1966’s Sunshine Superman, was the start of Donovan’s greatest period of commercial success. The title track topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart and reached No. 2 in the UK. Due to a contractual dispute, the album wasn’t initially released in the UK.
• The title track of Donovan’s fourth album, 1967’s Mellow Yellow, became a No. 2 US hit. In the UK, Mellow Yellow and Sunshine Superman were merged into a 1967 compilation that was released under the latter title. “Mellow Yellow” peaked at No. 8 in the UK.
• In February 1968, Donovan traveled with The Beatles to India to study meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. While there, Donovan taught John Lennon a fingerpicking guitar style that reportedly inspired the Beatle to write “Dear Prudence” and “Julia.”
• By the late ’60s, Donovan was more popular in the US than the UK, where his albums were no longer consistently reaching the charts. His 1968 album The Hurdy Gurdy Man went Top 20 in the US.
• Donovan’s 1973 album Cosmic Wheels was his last significant chart success, reaching No. 15 in the UK.
• In 2000, Donovan played himself as the narrator of an episode of the animated comedy Futurama, which included a parody version of his 1968 single “Atlantis.”
• In 2012, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
• He released a series of tributes in 2019, to Greta Thunberg and Harry Belafonte, and in 2021 collaborated with director David Lynch on "I Am the Shaman."