Video: Donovan tells TCD of Beatles’ White Album influence

Guitar techniques folk singer taught band in India used to telling effect

Legendary Welsh singer-songwriter Donovan is in Trinity College this evening where he will demonstrate som of his famous guitar techniques.


Renowned folk singer Donovan was to speak tonight in Trinity College Dublin on how he influenced The Beatles’ White Album.

Donovan spent eight weeks with The Beatles during their celebrated visit to India in February 1968.

Along with learning about transcendental meditation, Donovan taught the band guitar techniques which were used on the album.

Though The Beatles were among the most accomplished songwriters of their generation, they still felt they had a lot to learn about fingerpicking guitar techniques.

Donovan taught The Beatles the technique first developed by Mother Maybelle Carter of the Carter Family known as the clawhammer style or Carter Scratch, where the thumb is used to pick out some of the bass notes. It was adopted by John Lennon on the song Dear Prudence.

Donovan also showed them an A minor descending pattern which was used in blues progressions. It was adopted by George Harrison on one of his best-loved songs, While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

Donovan was to speak this evening to a capacity audience in the Long Room Hub, Trinity College as part of a 12-lecture series celebrating each of The Beatles’ albums. The series is organised by Trinity College’s School of English.