Turtles, The

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Turtles, The

Turtles, The 1960s popsters turned into 1970s and 1980s-era cult band led by the amazing “Flo and Eddie,” Membership:Mark Volman, gtr., sax., lead voc. (b. Los Angeles, April 19, 1944); Howard Kay Ian (real name, Howard Kaplan), kybd., sax., backing and harmony voc. (b. N.Y., June 22,1945); AI Nichol, kybd., gtr., bs., voc. (b. Winston-Salem, N.C., March 31, 1946); Jim Tucker, gtr. (b. Los Angeles, Oct. 17, 1946); Charles “Chuck” Portz, bs. (b. Santa Monica, Calif., March 28, 1945); Don Murray drm. (b. Los Angeles, Nov. 8,1945).

Later members included drummers John Barbata (b. N.J., April 1, 1946) and John Seiter (b. St. Louis, Miss., Aug. 17, 1944), and bassist Jim Pons (b. Santa Monica, March 14, 1943).

Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan met at Westchester H.S. in Los Angeles in 1961, the year Kaylan formed the surf group The Nightriders with Al Nichol, Chuck Portz, and Don Murray. Adding Volman on saxophone in 1963, the group became The Crossfires, releasing two local singles. In 1965, they signed with White Whale Records and changed their name to The Turtles, adding second guitarist Jim Tucker. Capitalizing on the burgeoning folk-rock movement, The Turtles’ debut album included “Eve of Destruction” and three Bob Dylan songs, including the near-smash hit “It Ain’t Me, Babe.” They next scored major hits with P. R Sloan’s “Let Me Be” and Sloan and Steve Barri’s “You Baby.” In mid-1966, Murray and Portz departed, to be replaced by John Barbata and Jim Pons, a founding member of The Leaves (“Hey Joe”).

The Turtles subsequently achieved their most successful year in 1967 with the top pop hit “Happy Together” (backed by Warren Zevon’s “Like The Seasons”), the smash hit “She’d Rather Be with Me,” and the major hits “You Know What I Mean” and “She’s My Girl,” all written by Gary Bonner and Alan Gordon. In mid-1968, The Turtles scored a moderate hit with Harry Nilsson’s “The Story of Rock and Roll,” next recording The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands. The album yielded smash hits with the group’s “Elenore” and “You Showed Me,” written by Gene Clark and Jim McGuinn of The Byrds. For the album, the group recorded under a variety of different names in different styles, showcasing a developing satirical bent with songs such as “Surfer Dan,” “I’m Chief Kamanananalea (We’re the Royal Macadamia Nuts),” and “Chicken Little Was Right.” After Turtle Soup,produced by The Kinks’ Ray Davies, The Turtles disbanded in mid-1970. John Barbata joined Crosby, Stills and Nash for a time, later joining The Jefferson Airplane in 1972.

Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (and later Jim Pons) subsequently joined Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention as the Phlorescent Leech and Eddie. Touring Europe and America extensively with Zappa, Mark “Flo” Volman and Howard “Eddie” Kaylan performed their own feature spot in concert and recorded two live albums with the group. They also helped record Chunga’s Revengeand the soundtrack to the movie 200 Motels,in which they appeared. Volman and Kaylan also recorded as background vocalists for Marc Bolan/T. Rex in 1971 and 1972 (including the major hit “Bang a Gong”). With the dissolution of the current edition of The Mothers of Invention at the end of 1971, Flo and Eddie recorded two outstanding yet neglected albums of rock satire for Reprise Records and toured in support of Alice Cooper’s “Billion Dollar Babies” tour in 1973.

Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman later wrote the screenplay to the X-rated animated movie Cheap,wrote satirical articles for the American rock press, and hosted their own successful syndicated radio show originating from Los Angeles’s KROQ. Signed to Columbia Records in 1975, the duo recorded two more excellent yet

overlooked albums of rock parody and satire before moving into sessions and television work. They recorded a silly reggae album in 1981, wrote radio and television commercials (including all of the commercials for David Bowie’s RCA albums), and wrote and recorded music for the children’s cartoons Strawberry Shortcakeand The Care Bears. In 1984 and 1985, with a reconstituted Turtles, they headlined two “Happy Together Tours” with other 1960s groups, subsequently touring independently as The Turtles.


the crossfires: Out of Control (1981). THE TURTLES: It Ain’t Me Babe (1965); You Baby (1966); Happy Together (1967); The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands (1968); Turtle Soup (1969); Wooden Head (1970); Chalón Road (1987); Shell Shock (1987); Captured Live (1992). FLO AND EDDIE WITH FRANK ZAPPA AND THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION: Chunga’s Revenge (1970); Fillmore East, June 1971 (1971); Just Another Band from LA.(1972); Playground Psychotics (1992). FLOANDEDDIE: The Phlorescent Leech and Eddie (1972); Flo and Eddie (1973); Illegal, Immoral and Fattening (1975); Moving Targets (1976); Rock Steady with Flo and Eddie (1981).

—Brock Helander

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