This song was written in the mid-1960s and released by Donovan in 1966. It reached No. 2 on the Billboard chart in 1966 with Sunny South Kensington on the B-side and early the following year it peaked on the UK singles chart at No. 8 with Preachin Love on the B-side. It appeared on Donovan’s 4thalbum of the same name.
Although there were occasions on when it was thought to be a song by The Beatles, the actual link to the group is that Paul McCartney performed some backing vocals as one of the revelers. The arrangements were made on the song by John Paul Jones.
It gained a slight amount of controversy in the fact that firstly it was rumoured to be about the false idea of hallucinogenic effect of smoking banana skins, which was brought about Country Joe McDonald in 1966. Secondly, as has since been confirmed by Donovan, the phrase electric banana referred to women’s vibrators as he and John Lennon used to look at the back pages of newspapers and pick out novelty items that often found their way into lyrics.
Over the years it has been covered by several different artists that include Georgie Fame, Family of the Year featuring Donovan, Amanda Lear, the Medium Wave Band and Young Holt Unlimited as well as being referenced in Frank Zappas Absolutely Free and Jimi Hendrixs Bold as Love.
It has also been a popular song used in various guises for commercials for Coca Colas Mello Yello, Cadburys Caramello Koala chocolates, The Gap and Lipton among others.
Medium Wave Band recordings
Mellow Yellow (Donovan Leitch)