SickthingsUK: Donovan

Miss Christine and the GTOs

Alice and Donovan in the Studio 1973
Donovan, Glen Buxton, Alice and Bob Ezrin in the Studio, 1973

Donovan Leitch dueted with with Alice on the song 'Billion Dollar Babies', providing the high pitched vocal on the Chorus. He is most famous for being a hippie folk singer with hits like 'Sunshine Superman' and 'Mellow Yellow'.

Alice recalls:

"The first time I met Donovan we were recording 'Billion Dollar Babies' in London at Morgan Studios, and we realised we needed a British voice that was going to mimic my voice, and I said "who's here in the studio?" and they said "Donovan's next door" and I went "aww this will be great cause he's got that great British voice. So I walked straight in to the studio and he was doing something and I said "Donovan, I'm Alice Cooper, c'mon.. it's time to sing rock'n'roll. you know, because his songs were always nice and they were wonderfully written songs, and he'd had like eight #1s in a row or whatever, and I said "sing this". So he did the talking part, "we go dancing nightly in the attic..." he had so much fun doing that song. Then I said "now you've got to sing it, and I'll do the talking"

That record went straight to #1, and it was really fun to have Donovan on that. I like the idea of taking someone out of their comfort zone and putting them in a place they didn't normally go to."

Donovan has also mentioned the song:

"He was downstairs and I was upstairs at Morgan Studios when he was doing 'Billion Dollar Babies, and he came down and said "hello" and I went up and said "hello" to him." recalls Donovan at his 'Songwriter's Hall Of Fame' induction in 2014. "I had heard this track and he said "do you wanna put a vocal on it" and I said "sure, but it's so big and so bouncy and so loud, I think I'm going to have to get into a falsetto!' No one believed it was me, but it went to #1 didn't it, so me and Alice are fast friends now."

"I am experimental. I will try combinations that others won't and have a lot of fun doing it," he explained during an earlier interview. "Word came up that a band was downstairs and that they would love to meet me. I went down there and Alice had a guitar player in his band that was playing a little bit like Keith Richards and I thought that was fascinating."

Once he figured out his approach, "I went in and sang this piercing falsetto and sang, 'Billion Dollar Babbbbieeeees.' I can do things with my voice like that," Donovan continued. "Alice said, 'That’s it, man. Let’s record.' I think I did about half the vocals on that song. I have met Alice again over the years. It was really extraordinary to be a part of that song. 'Billion Dollar Babies' went to No. 1. I also did the talking part on the song: 'We go dancing nightly in the attic.' It was all like a horror movie; it was all tongue-in-cheek. I love Gothic mysteries. It has that spookiness."