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How Donovan taught guitar fingerpicking to The Beatles



How Donovan taught guitar fingerpicking to The Beatles

There are many techniques to play the guitar and each player has their own background in music. Sometimes even when they are already successful and created many praised songs, the artists still don’t known some techniques that could be really helpful when composing a melody or arrangement. In an interview with Music Radar back in 2012, the legendary Scottish Folk Rock musician Donovan recalled that he was the one who taught fingerpicking to The Beatles members back in the 60s.


With an extensive and influential career, Donovan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame back in 2012 by John Mellencamp. Some of his most famous song are “Hurdy Gurdy Man”, “Mellow Yellow”, “Season Of The Witch” and “Sunshine Superman”.

Donovan said about teaching fingerpicking to The Beatles:

“I didn’t know at the time that I would be showing the three main songwriters in The Beatles – John, Paul and George – fingerstyle. They had spent so much time in Hamburg absorbing so much music. They were so brilliant, and they knew music so well, but one thing they didn’t learn was the combinations of the folk-blues-classical-flamenco-New Orleans-jazz progressions.”

“In India, I sat around playing the guitar. I never stopped. I felt naked if I didn’t have the guitar. Ringo used to say, ‘Donovan, you never stop playing the guitar, do you?’ [laughs] One day, John said, ‘How do you do that? That fingerstyle, that picking, will you teach me?’ So I showed him. And Paul would stand around, he’d steal a look and then he’d walk away into the woods. He was listening. A smart boy, our Paul. And from that, he wrote Blackbird.”

“John came up with Julia and Dear Prudence. George liked the chord progressions, and under that great shadow of John and Paul, he came up with While My Guitar Gently Weeps. It was a great pleasure to pass these styles on. That’s why The White Album is so fantastic… and so acoustic.”

The White Album

Released in 1968, the album “The Beatles”, also known as the “White Album” because of the cover, is one of the most famous albums of the Liverpool band. Some of the most famous tracks are: “Back in the U.S.S.R.”, “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “Blackbird” and “Helter Skelter”.

The album has been certified 24× platinum by the RIAA.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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