Sunshine Superman

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"Sunshine Superman"
Donovan-Sunshine Superman single.jpg
Single by Donovan
from the album Sunshine Superman
B-side "The Trip"
Released 1 July 1966 (1966-07-01)
Format 7-inch single
Length 3:15, 4:34 (extended version)
Label Epic
Writer(s) Donovan
Producer(s) Mickie Most
Donovan singles chronology
"Remember the Alamo"
"Sunshine Superman"
"Mellow Yellow"

"Sunshine Superman" is a song written and recorded by Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan. The "Sunshine Superman" single was released in the United States through Epic Records (Epic 5-10045) in July 1966, but due to a contractual dispute the United Kingdom release was delayed until December 1966, where it appeared on Donovan's previous label, Pye Records (Pye 7N 17241). The "Sunshine Superman" single was backed with "The Trip" on both the United States and United Kingdom releases. It has been described as "[one of the] classics of the era,"[1] and as "the quintessential bright summer sing along".[2]

"Sunshine Superman" reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, and subsequently became the title track of Donovan's third album, Sunshine Superman.[3] Chart positions were No. 1 (US),[3] and No. 2 (UK) (the single was released in December 1966 in the UK). It was Donovan's only single to reach No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 survey. A different mix of "The Trip" (without harmonica) is also included in the album. It was the first product from the highly successful three-year collaboration between Donovan and producer Mickie Most and is generally considered to be one of the first examples of the musical genre that came to be known as psychedelia.[4] The song features styles of psychedelic folk,[5][6] psychedelic pop[7][8] and folk rock.[9]

In popular culture[edit]

Writer Grant Morrison referenced the song in an issue of Animal Man by creating Sunshine Superman, an African American version of Superman who was a member of the Love Syndicate of Dreamworld, from a world based on the drug culture of the 1960s.[10] Sunshine Superman and his world were wiped out by the Crisis on Infinite Earths, only to be brought back by the Psycho-Pirate before fading away again. Sunshine Superman returned for a brief, non-speaking cameo in Final Crisis #7, in an army of alternate Supermen.[11] More recently, it has been resurrected in the New 52 DC Multiverse as Earth-47, still with an iteration of Sunshine Superman and the Love Syndicate [12] A small excerpt of the song is featured in a season 8 episode of the television drama Criminal Minds.

Cover versions and performances[edit]

JJ Cale's first band The Leathercoated Minds covered the song on their album A Trip To The Sunset Strip in 1967.[13]

The song was covered by Mike Vickers, former member of Manfred Mann, on his 1968 album, I Wish I Were a Group Again, with a verse removed from the song and an extra verse added (including multiple inserted rhymes).

Mel Tormé covered this song on his 1969 album Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head.

The song was covered by Dr. Lonnie Smith recorded live on Move Your Hand in Atlantic City on 9 August 1969.[14] It was also covered by The Sugarman 3 on their debut 1998 album Sugar's Boogaloo.[15]

Hardcore punk band Hüsker Dü covered "Sunshine Superman" as a brief 1:56 rendition on their 1983 studio debut Everything Falls Apart.[16]

New York punk rock band Alice Donut covers the song (with changed lyrics) on their debut album Donut Comes Alive.[17]

Spirit of the West covered the song for the 1992 Donovan tribute album Island of Circles.[18] Their version also appears on their greatest hits compilation Spirituality 1983–2008: The Consummate Compendium.[18]

Seattle band Telekinesis performed a version of the song in July 2013 for The A.V. Club's A.V. Undercover: Summer Break series.[19]

In 1997, Imani Coppola sampled the instrumental track for her song "Legend of a Cowgirl".[20]

The first two lines of the lyrics to "Sunshine Superman" are alluded to and parodied in the chorus to The Happy Mondays' song "Donovan" (from the album Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches). Shaun Ryder, lead singer of the band, was at the time in a relationship with Donovan's daughter, Oriole.


Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1966-1967) Peak
Australia (Go-Set Top 40)[21] 2
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[22] 11
Canadian RPM Top Singles[23] 2
France (SNEP)[24] 9
Germany (Official German Charts)[25] 7
Irish Singles Chart[26] 4
Italy (FIMI)[27] 54
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[28] 5
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[29] 2
UK (Official Charts Company)[30] 2
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[31] 1


  1. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Donovan's Greatest Hits", Allmusic.
  2. ^ Bush, John (2002). Bogdanov et al., eds. Allmusic guide to rock, p.330. ISBN 0-87930-653-X. Sunshine Superman (US)
  3. ^ a b Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 48 - The British are Coming! The British are Coming!: With an emphasis on Donovan, the Bee Gees and the Who. [Part 5]" (audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries. 
  4. ^ "British Psychedelia". Allmusic. 2009. Retrieved 15 June 2009. 
  5. ^ Davud Burger (23 January 2012). "Sundance music: Donovan to headline BMI Snowball with Dawes". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 18 July 2013.  "Donovan will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this spring and is best known for psychedelic folk songs such as "Sunshine Superman" and "Catch the Wind.""
  6. ^ Marvin E. Paymer (1993). Garland Publishing Inc., ed. Facts behind the songs: a handbook of American popular music from the nineties to the '90s. p. 248. ISBN 978-0824052409.  "[Donovan] later proved himself a talent with the release of his original psychedelic folk [single] "Sunshine Superman""
  7. ^ Robin Bell (February 13, 2016). The History of British Rock and Roll: The Beat Boom 1963 - 1966. Robin Bell. p. 263. ISBN 978-91-981916-6-0. 
  8. ^ C.Grunenberg and J.Harris, Summer Of Love: Psychedelic Art, Social Crisis And Counterculture In The 1960s, (Liverpool University Press), p.140, ISBN 0853239193
  9. ^ Editors Rolling Stone (November 8, 2001). Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll: Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. Touchstone. p. 276. ISBN 978-0-7432-0120-9. 
  10. ^ Animal Man #23
  11. ^ Final Crisis #7
  12. ^ Multiversity Guidebook: January 2015
  13. ^ Mark Deming. "A Trip Down the Sunset Strip review on Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  14. ^ "iTunes Store". iTunes. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  15. ^ Steve Huey. "Sugar's Boogaloo review on Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  16. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Everything Falls Apart and More review on Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  17. ^ Jason Ankeny. "Donut Comes Alive review on Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  18. ^ a b Spirituality 1983-2008: The Consummate Compendium at
  19. ^ "Telekinesis covers Donovan". Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  20. ^ "Imani Coppola's Legend of a Cowgirl sample of Donovan's Sunshine Superman". Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  21. ^ "Sunshine Superman in Australian Chart". Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  22. ^ " – Donovan – Sunshine Superman" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  23. ^ "Sunshine Superman in Canadian Top Singles Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  24. ^ "Sunshine Superman in French Chart" (in French). Dominic DURAND / InfoDisc. 18 July 2013. Retrieved 18 July 2013.  You have to use the index at the top of the page and search "Donovan"
  25. ^ " – Donovan – Sunshine Superman". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  26. ^ "Sunshine Superman in Irish Chart". IRMA. Retrieved 18 July 2013.  Only one result when searching "Sunshine Superman"
  27. ^ "Indice per Interprete: D". HitParadeItalia (it). Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  28. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Donovan search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  29. ^ " – Donovan – Sunshine Superman" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  30. ^ "1966 Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive - 31st December 1966". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  31. ^ "Donovan awards on Allmusic". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Summer in the City"
by The Lovin' Spoonful
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
3 September 1966
(one week)
Succeeded by
"You Can't Hurry Love"
by The Supremes