That Time Donovan and Jimmy Page Performed "Sunshine Superman" at the Royal Albert Hall

Donovan and Jimmy Page perform June 3, 2011, at London's Royal Albert Hall.

Donovan and Jimmy Page perform June 3, 2011, at London's Royal Albert Hall. (Image credit: C Brandon/Getty Images)

On June 3, 2011, Donovan—assisted by the London Contemporary Orchestra—set out to perform a note-for-note rendition of his classic 1966 album, Sunshine Superman, at London's Royal Albert Hall. So it made perfect sense that guitarist Jimmy Page, who played plenty of notes on the original album, was there to lend a hand.

In a move that took the Albert Hall audience completely by surprise, a silver-haired Page sauntered onto the stage clutching his black Gibson Les Paul Custom (with Bigsby) and reprised his guitar part on the album's hit title track. You can see that performance in the top video below (Note: Be sure to skip ahead to 4:20).

In terms of playing things note for note, Page and Donovan did a good job, totally ignoring the much longer version of Page's full-I-IV-V "Sunshine Superman" guitar solo that was later released on Donovan's Greatest Hits in 1969. An even longer edit of the song can be found on The Essential Donovan, which came out in 2004. You can hear Page's full-length guitar solo in the bottom YouTube player.

Anyway, Page returned to the stage a bit later that night to play on another mid-Sixties Donovan hit, "Mellow Yellow." You can check out the middle video for that performance.

When I spoke to Donovan in 2014, I asked him about the original recording session for "Sunshine Superman."

"[Page] walked in—he was a session guy," Donovan said. "He did the session and we liked each other. That was as quick as it was. My father worked with me for a while, because I was underage and couldn’t sign contracts. I loved my father; he taught me a lot about poetry and stuff. And he kept everything. He gave me a box of papers that he kept, and in the papers was something from a Jimmy Page session: 'Jimmy Page, £3.10.' It was amazing."

Note: For "Sunshine Superman" (top video), skip ahead to 4:20.

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Damian Fanelli
Editor-in-Chief, Guitar World

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas, was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron, a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums. He now plays in two NYC-area bands.