david john mills
TV Tuesday: A Boy Called Donovan 1966
Fifty-five years ago, today, the documentary A Boy Called Donovan aired on ITV in the UK.
A rare documentary by Scottish folk singer Donovan P. Leitch. Insights into his life with rare recordings from the beginning of his career as a folk singer. Portions of the film was [sic] filmed on St. Ives, Cornwall on Porthminster [B]each in 1966.
It shows Donovan’s life before becoming famous, when he was busking and living in Saint Ives with his friend Gypsy Dave. And, then, when the fame came in with Ready Steady Go! Donovan and his friends are seen smoking marihuana [sic], very shocking for its time. This warned the police to keep him under surveillance and ended up arresting him for drugs [sic] possession in mid-1966.
Born Donovan Philips Leitch in Glasgow, Scotland on May 10, 1946, Donovan was part of the British folk scene and the British music invasion in America. His style was distinctive and incredibly eclectic. As a child, Donovan was vaccinated with the polio vaccine and contracted polio. Though the vaccine was later made safer with the Sabin oral vaccine, the disease and treatment left Donovan with a limp. The public never knew this.
He established close relationships with leading musicians of the time including Joan Baez, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones and, the Beatles. He taught John Lennon and Paul McCartney […] his finger-picking guitar technique. On his first trip to the USA, he performed in New York with Pete Seeger, […] appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, Hullabaloo, and Shindig! He gained critical acclaim and acceptance when he performed at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965.
[E]arly on, he was compared with Bob Dylan […]. By 1966, [he] had become one of the first British pop musicians to adopt the flower power image. His music contained many drug references during this time. His recordings were also the first pop music to contain the sound of the sitar, later copied by other famed music groups. [He] was the first high-profile British pop star to be arrested for possession of marijuana. Though Donovan’s drug use appeared to have been moderate, and his drug use was not on the scale of others such as Jimi Hendrix and Brian Jones who later died from overdoses, his use of LSD is referred to in many of his lyrics. Public attention was drawn to his drug use by [the] TV documentary, A Boy Called Donovan, which was broadcast during that year and newspaper coverage of the drug scene in England.
The Hurdy Gurdy Man of the Psychedelic Sixties: Donovan Leitch