It’s the world’s most exclusive songwriting course, hosted by the singer whose mellow vibes provided the soundtrack to the flower-power era.
Donovan is looking for seven aspiring musicians to take to a secluded Bahamian island, where he will teach them the tricks of his trade.
The Scottish singer, who enjoyed transatlantic hits in the 1960s with “Mellow Yellow” and “Hurdy Gurdy Man”, will reveal the composition secrets he once shared with former students, The Beatles, during the week-long retreat.
Donovan, 67, helped Paul McCartney to write the lyrics for “Eleanor Rigby” and “Yellow Submarine” and taught John Lennon the “clawhammer” guitar technique used on The White Album.
Applicants must send a video of their performance on an acoustic guitar, performing a self-penned song with a solo vocal, via Donovan’s website.
“I am going to do an exclusive composition master-class next January,” Donovan said, after a blue plaque was unveiled on Denmark Street – known as London’s Tin Pan Alley – to mark its central role in Britain’s songwriting heritage.
“You have to write a song and send me a video of your performance. If you join me I will show you some very interesting chord formations that even The Beatles missed in their incredible study of popular music.
“I will only tell the cost to people who email me and apply,” said Donovan, whose experience means that it could be a five-figure fee. “But this is a very exclusive course at a Bahamian resort. You can bring a partner and have a holiday as well. I will show you even more than I taught The Beatles.”
The Bahamas sessions will include a module on “how to catch melodies”.
“There is a certain technique in catching melodies with one part of your brain when you’re half-listening to the chords you are playing. It often comes from playing songs in the style of other people,” he said.
Donovan premiered a new song, “Tin Pan Alley”, a tribute to Denmark Street, at the plaque unveiling at the Giaconda café. “I recorded my first 40 songs here,” Donovan said. “It’s a wonderful street.”