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Paul McCartney Was Never Supposed to Hear This Song

No Paul McCartney song was created in a vacuum. A 1960s classic rock star said Paul took ideas from him. The star’s producer told him not to let Paul hear one of his tracks. The tune in question became a massive hit in the United States and the United Kingdom, and it is recognizable to this day.

Paul McCartney and another rock star inspired each other’s songs
During a 2016 interview with The Guardian, Donovan discussed the place he was in life when he wrote his most famous hit, the psychedelic classic “Sunshine Superman.” “At the time, I was great pals with The Beatles,” he said. “We were all experimenting, nicking sounds from each other.

“I was getting into baroque music and told my producer, Mickie Most, I wanted harpsichord on the track,” Donovan recalled. “‘You need an arranger,’ he said, introducing me to John Cameron who understood immediately. ‘You want a soundtrack to your poetry,’ he said. ‘Like a movie.’ When Mickey heard the result, he said: ‘We’ve really created something here, Don. Don’t let Paul McCartney hear it.’”

After Donovan released “Sunshine Superman,” the Fab Four only became more baroque and psychedelic with albums such as Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Magical Mystery Tour. Donovan would also have a direct role in the Fab Four’s history. He was there when The Beatles went to India to study Transcendental Meditation under the guidance of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Donovan influenced the way the band played guitar on The White Album.

‘Sunshine Superman’ changed another artist’s life
Cameron, the arranger of the song, discussed how “Sunshine Superman” impacted his career. “‘Sunshine Superman’ is the sound of 1965, but the British release was actually delayed a year,” he said. “After we recorded it, I had to go back to conducting panto at Watford Palace theater.

“Then, the moment it was a hit, everyone wanted me as their arranger,” he added. “I was so busy. I had entire string sections tearing ’round London on motorbikes.”

The song upstaged everything else Donovan released
Considering the song’s success on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, there’s no way Paul didn’t hear it! “Sunshine Superman” became Donovan’s first and only No. 1 hit in the United States. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 for a single week, staying on the chart for 13 weeks. It lasted longer on the chart than any other Donovan single, with the exception of “Atlantis,” a tune that bears some similarity to The Beatles’ “Hey Jude.”

“Sunshine Superman” appeared on the record of the same name. Sunshine Superman reached No. 11 on the Billboard 200 and remained on the chart for 29 weeks. The album also features Donovan’s most popular album track: the eerie, piercing “Season of the Witch.”

According to The Official Charts Company, “Sunshine Superman” reached No. 2 in the United Kingdom, making it Donovan’s heist charting single there. It lasted on the chart for 11 weeks before charting at No. 100 for another week in 1989. The album Sunshine Superman peaked at No. 25 in the U.K. and spent seven weeks on the chart.

Whether “Sunshine Superman” influenced The Beatles or not, it remains one of the most unique songs to ever reach No. 1 in the U.S.

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