"Hurdy Gurdy Man" is a song by the British singer/songwriter Donovan. It was written and recorded in early 1968 and released in May as a single. It gave its name to the album The Hurdy Gurdy Man, which was released in October of that year. The single reached No.5 in the U.S. and No.4 in the UK pop charts. The song was written for the band Hurdy Gurdy (which included Donovan's old friend and guitar mentor Mac MacLeod) with Donovan intending to be the producer, but due to creative disagreements this collaboration was cancelled, and Donovan recorded the song himself. The song features a harder rock sound than Donovan's usual material, supplying a range of distorted guitars. It also features an Indian influence with the use of a tambura. The song was an anthem for free-spirited hippies at the time due to its psychedelic sound.
In the booklet that came with Donovan's 1992 double CD, Troubadour: The Definitive Collection 1964-1976, Allan Holdsworth and Jimmy Page are listed as the electric guitar players and John Bonham and Clem Cattini as drummers on the recording. However, according to John Paul Jones, who arranged and played bass on the track (and also booked the session musicians), Clem Cattini played the drums and Alan Parker played the electric guitar. This line-up was confirmed by Cattini On Jimmy Page's website, he lists this song as one on which he plays. Page himself has never claimed to have played on the track and has also mentioned that Alan Parker was the guitarist on the session. Donovan maintains that Page was the guitarist in Hannes Rossacher's 2008 documentary Sunshine Superman: The Journey of Donovan, where he asserts that the song ushered in the Celtic rock sound which would lead to Page, Jones, and Bonham forming Led Zeppelin soon afterwards.
The session was produced by Mickie Most and engineered by Eddie Kramer.
Donovan had originally hoped Jimi Hendrix would play on the song, but he was unavailable.
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“In a moment when criticism shows a singular dearth of direction every man has to be a law unto himself in matters of theatre, writing, and painting. While the American Mercury and the new Ford continue to spread a thin varnish of Ritz over the whole United States there is a certain virtue in being unfashionable.”
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