Gypsy Dave Mills 1946-2019

by Chris Murray on June 20, 2019
June 10, 1966. (AP Photo). Courtesy of Citizen’s Voice.

Gypsy Dave Mills – sculptor, author, poet, and raconteur, was Donovan’s best friend. He passed on Tuesday, June 18th. Gypsy Dave and Donovan were friends when Donovan was first discovered and became an overnight sensation in 1965, appearing on Ready Steady Go!, singing what became his first hit song, “Catch the Wind”. Gypsy Dave became known as Donovan’s “tour manager” as they traveled the world together – performing, recording, and living their lives on the road. Gyp was immortalized in Eric Burdon & The Animals’ hit song, written by Donovan, “Hey Gyp”, in 1967. Jack White and The Raconteurs featured Donovan’s song “Hey Gyp” as the first single from their just-released album, Help Us Stranger.

When I heard Gyp passed away, I played Donovan’s song, “To Try for the Sun“. Here are the lyrics to that song, which Donovan wrote about his great friendship with Gypsy Dave Mills:

We stood in the windy city,
The gypsy boy and I.
We slept on the breeze in the midnight
With the raindrop and tears in our eyes.
And who’s going to be the one
To say it was no good what we done?
I dare a man to say I’m too young,
For I’m going to try for the sun.
We huddled in a derelict building
And when he thought I was asleep
He laid his poor coat round my shoulder,
And shivered there beside me in a heap.
And who’s going to be the one
To say it was no good what we done?
I dare a man to say I’m too young,
For I’m going to try for the sun.
We sang and cracked the sky with laughter,
Our breath turned to mist in the cold.
Our years put together count to thirty,
But our eyes told the dawn we were old.
And who’s going to be the one
To say it was no good what we done ?
I dare a man to say I’m too young,
For I’m going to try for the sun.
Mirror, mirror, hanging in the sky,
Won’t you look down what’s happening here below?
I stand here singing to the flowers,
So very few people really know.
And who’s going to be the one
To say it was no good what we done?
I dare a man to say I’m too young,
For I’m going to try for the sun.
We stood in the windy city
The gypsy boy and I.
We slept on the breeze in the midnight,
With the raindrop and tears in our eyes.
And who’s going to be the one
To say it was no good what we done ?
I dare a man to say I’m too young,
For I’m going to try for the sun.

Donovan, “To Try For The Sun” from the album Fairytale

It was a great pleasure for me to meet Gypsy Dave when I curated and co-organized Donovan’s exhibition of his Sapphographs at the Hellenic American Union Museum in Athens, Greece in 2010. Gypsy Dave’s sculpture depicting Sappho’s harp, Lover’s Leap, was included in that exhibition and is now on permanent display at Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies in Nafplio, Greece.

Donovan and Gypsy Dave with Gyp’s bronze sculpture Lover’s Leap, Sappho’s harp, Athens, 2010. Copyright Hellenic American Union.
Donovan and his wife and muse Linda with Gypsy Dave’s sculpture Lover’s Leap at the Center for Hellenic Studies, Nafplio, Greece in 2010. Photo by Panee Mills.
Gyp Mills and Chris Murray conferring on a beautiful day in Nafplio outside Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies, during Sapphofest 2010. Photo by Christiann Moore.
Donovan and Gypsy Dave backstage at the Royal Albert Hall in London during Donovan’s Sunshine Superman concert in 2011. Photo by Virgilio Fino.
Cover of Gypsy Dave’s autobiography, Knights of the Road. Published by Wisdom Twin Books
A photo of Gypsy Dave on a page in the gatefold cover/booklet for Donovan’s original vinyl release of Donovan’s Greatest Hits in 1969.
Donovan and Gypsy Dave bowling. Copyright John Young.
Donovan, 19, shares a pot of coffee with his dear friend and traveling companion Gypsy Dave in Kingsway, London. Copyright PA/Press Association Images

Courtesy of The Beat Magazine.
Copyright Jane Quinn

Here is Donovan’s eulogy for his friend Gypsy Dave and a previously unreleased song that Donovan wrote in 1970 about Gyp.

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