The Turtles

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The Turtles
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The Turtles in 1967 (left to right): Al Nichol, Chip Douglas, John Barbata, Mark Volman, Jim Tucker, Howard Kaylan.
Background information
Also known asThe Tyrtles
Origin Los Angeles, California, United States
Years active
  • 1965–1970, 1983–present
Labels White Whale
Associated acts
Past members

The Turtles are an American rock band led by vocalists Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, later known as Flo & Eddie [1] . The band had several Top 40 hits beginning in 1965 with their cover version of Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe". They scored their biggest and best-known hit in 1967 with the song "Happy Together" [2] .


The band broke up in 1970. Kaylan and Volman later found long-lasting success as session musicians, billed as the comedic vocal duo "Flo & Eddie". In 2010, a reconstituted version of the band, "the Turtles Featuring Flo & Eddie", began performing live shows again.


The band, originally a surf rock group called The Crossfires, was formed in 1965 in Westchester, Los Angeles by high school friends Howard Kaylan, Mark Volman, Al Nichol, Chuck Portz, Don Murray, and Jim Tucker. [3] With the help of KRLA and KFWB DJ and club owner Reb Foster (born James Dennis Bruton, March 18, 1936 August 25, 2019), [4] The Crossfires signed to the newly formed White Whale Records. Adhering to the prevailing musical trend, they rebranded themselves as a folk rock group under the name The Tyrtles, an intentionally stylized misspelling inspired by The Byrds and The Beatles. However, the trendy spelling did not survive long. [3]

As with the Byrds, the Turtles achieved breakthrough success with a cover of a Bob Dylan song. "It Ain't Me Babe" reached the Billboard Top Ten in the late summer of 1965, and was the title track of the band's first album. [3] Their second single, "Let Me Be," reached the top 30, while their third hit, "You Baby," charted in the top 20 in early 1966. [3] The band's second album, You Baby, failed to reach Billboard 's Top LPs chart, and of several singles released in 1966, "Grim Reaper of Love" and "Can I Get to Know You Better" barely entered the Billboard Hot 100. One single, the tough "Outside Chance", written by Warren Zevon and featuring guitar work in the style of The Beatles' "Taxman", did not chart. In 1966, The Turtles made an appearance in Universal's beach party spy spoof film Out of Sight, singing "She'll Come Back" on screen.

At the start of 1966, drummer Don Murray and bassist Chuck Portz quit the group. They were replaced by Joel Larson and then John Barbata on drums, and by Chip Douglas on bass (October 1966). [3]

The first of several key Turtles singles co-written by Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon, "Happy Together" had already been rejected by countless performers. "Happy Together", both their biggest hit and their signature song, signaled a turning point for both the Turtles and for Chip Douglas, who provided the arrangement. [3] The single replaced the Beatles' "Penny Lane" at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1967. The Turtles' only No. 1 remained there for three weeks. An album of the same name followed and peaked at No. 25. "Happy Together" reached No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart. [5] This same year saw the Turtles performing the title song (composed by John Williams with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse) for the Twentieth Century-Fox bedroom farce A Guide for the Married Man .

Impressed by Chip Douglas's studio arrangements, Michael Nesmith approached him after a Turtles show at the Whisky a Go Go and invited him to become The Monkees' new producer, as that band wanted to break out of their "manufactured" studio mold. Douglas accepted and left the Turtles, ultimately producing three Monkees albums: Headquarters ; Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. (both 1967) and co-produced The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees (1968). Douglas was replaced by Jim Pons on bass.

1967 proved to be the Turtles' most successful year on the music charts. "She'd Rather Be with Me" reached No. 3 on the US charts in late spring and actually out-charted "Happy Together" overseas, reaching No. 4 in the UK. [5] Two successive Top 15 songs followed: "You Know What I Mean" and "She's My Girl". Both 45s signaled a certain shift in the band's style. Golden Hits was released later that year, charting in the top 10. The similar album covers for The Turtles! Golden Hits and its follow up More Golden Hits were designed by Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean.

In 1967, rhythm guitarist Jim Tucker left the band citing the pressure of touring and recording new material. He moved to Grass Valley where he became an electrical contractor. He has denied that he left the band because John Lennon was rude to him as suggested by the Turtles' lead singer Howard Kaylan. [6]

The first two singles in 1968, "Sound Asleep" and "The Story of Rock and Roll", stalled somewhere in the middle of the top 100. The band's fortunes changed when Chip Douglas returned to work with them in the studio. Late in 1968 the band released a concept album called The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands , in which the group pretended to be 11 different bands (with fanciful names including 'The Bigg Brothers', 'Nature's Children', 'the US Teens featuring Raoul', and 'the Fabulous Dawgs'), each with a song in a different genre. The album yielded two singles: "Elenore" and "You Showed Me" (both peaking at No. 6). "Elenore" also reached No. 7 in the UK chart. [5] The 1969 hit "You Showed Me" had been written by the Byrds' Gene Clark and Roger (then Jim) McGuinn in 1964. Television appearances included a February 1968 spot on The Mike Douglas Show , to which they returned in April 1969.

Towards the end of 1969, the group released its next album, Turtle Soup , a critically well-received LP produced by Ray Davies of the Kinks. Inspired by the revered 1968 concept album The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society , this was Davies's only released production work for another band (although Davies had previously produced demo recordings for The Iveys). Notable tracks include "Somewhere Friday Nite" and "Love in the City". In spite of Turtle Soup's positive reception from the music press, its commercial success was marginal and the band soon began to disintegrate.

Long disillusioned with their record label and its growing financial problems by this time, Kaylan and Volman resisted White Whale's efforts to turn the Turtles into something approaching an assembly-line pop act. The label apparently encouraged Kaylan and Volman to fire the rest of the band, tour with hired musicians and make records by adding their vocals to backing tracks recorded by Memphis session players. Such pressure convinced the band to record a single called "Who Would Ever Think That I Would Ever Marry Margaret?", which they disowned after its release.

The Turtles wound down their career in 1970 with a second compilation album, More Golden Hits, and a B-sides and rarities album, Wooden Head . With the demise of the Turtles, White Whale Records was left with few commercially viable bands, and soon ceased operation.


Kaylan and Volman (accompanied by Chip Douglas' replacement, bassist Jim Pons) joined the Mothers of Invention [3] as The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie, since the use of the Turtles name (and even their own names in billings) was prohibited by their contract with White Whale. Flo & Eddie , as they soon became known, recorded albums with the Mothers, appeared in Frank Zappa's film 200 Motels in 1971 and later released a series of records on their own. [3]

Kaylan and Volman sang backing vocals on several recordings by T. Rex, including their worldwide hit "Get it On (Bang A Gong)" and the albums Electric Warrior and The Slider . When White Whale's master recordings were sold at auction in 1974, the duo won the Turtles' masters, making them the owners of their own recorded work. They promptly licensed the tracks to Sire Records, who issued them as a compilation called Happy Together Again.

In the mid-1970s, Kaylan and Volman started their own syndicated radio show called Flo & Eddie by the Fireside, which originated from KMET in Los Angeles. [7] In the 1980s, they began hosting their own radio show on KROQ-FM in Los Angeles and WXRK in New York City and recorded soundtrack music for children's shows like the Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake .

1982 saw the rerelease of the Turtles' original albums through Rhino Records. The following year, Howard Kaylan appeared in the rock-and-roll comedy film Get Crazy , starring Malcolm McDowell and Daniel Stern. Kaylan played the part of Captain Cloud, a spiritual guru, leader of a caravan of time-lost hippies.

In 1980, Flo and Eddie performed backing vocals on Alice Cooper's Flush The Fashion LP. They also sang backup on Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart", from his album The River , and contributed backing vocals to the self-titled debut album from British new wave band Espionage, produced by Roy Thomas Baker and released in 1983 by A&M records.

In 1983, Kaylan and Volman legally regained the use of "The Turtles" name and began touring as the Turtles... Featuring Flo and Eddie. Instead of trying to reunite with their earlier bandmates, they began featuring all-star sidemen who had played with different groups. That year also saw the debut of the previously unreleased Shell Shock album, as well as a new retrospective CD, 20 Greatest Hits, both released by Rhino. The latter compilation was followed up in 1988 with another, Turtle Wax: The Best of The Turtles, Vol. 2, which featured the best of their "album tracks" and previously-neglected single B-sides.

In 1984, the Turtles embarked on a U.S. "Happy Together" tour with Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, Spanky & Our Gang and The Association. [8] In 1987, Kaylan & Volman appeared in a new music video of their song "Happy Together" to promote the romantic comedy Making Mr. Right , starring John Malkovich.

The 1989 debut album by hip-hop combo De La Soul, featured an uncredited sample from the Turtles (specifically, the intro to "You Showed Me"), in the song "Transmitting Live from Mars". Kaylan and Volman sued, winning a large settlement, setting a legal precedent, and causing the music industry to begin carefully crediting (and paying royalties for) sampled works on future rap and other recordings. As they explained, "We don't hate sampling; we like sampling. If we don't get credit, we sue, and all that stuff (a share of the royalties, plus punitive damages) comes back to us!" It was incorrectly reported in 2009 that Volman was involved in another lawsuit against rapper Gucci Mane for an unauthorized sample; the sample of "Keep It Warm" used in Mane's "Lemonade" was cleared legitimately prior to the release of the song.

The romantic comedy Happy Together premiered in 1989, starring Patrick Dempsey and Helen Slater. The Turtles' recording of "Happy Together" was featured in the film as well as the soundtrack album.

The 2005 film Imagine Me & You , the title of which was taken from the first line of the song "Happy Together", used the song in its end credits.

Music Club Records released a Turtles anthology in the U.K. in 1991, Happy Together: The Best of the Turtles. Repertoire Records in Germany released their own compilation, titled Elenore, in 1993, as well as re-releasing the original Happy Together album. In that same year, Rhino Records also presented Captured Live, a live album of their 1992 tour. Sundazed Records re-released all of the Turtles' original albums in 1994, and in 1999 Varèse Sarabande released Happy Together: The Best of White Whale Records, which included many of the Turtles' singles.

In 2002, the film Adaptation used "Happy Together" extensively as a device to portray the closeness of the two brothers Kaufman, both played by Nicolas Cage. The film closes with the Turtles' version over the final credit scroll and time lapse photography.

In 2009, a new Turtles compilation CD titled Save The Turtles: The Turtles Greatest Hits was issued on their own FloEdCo label and distributed by Manifesto Records. [9]

Starting in the summer of 2010, the Turtles Featuring Flo & Eddie toured throughout the United States as part of the "Happy Together: 25th Anniversary Tour", an oldies concert series that retained the "Happy Together" moniker in subsequent years. They performed alongside other 1960s and 1970s pop stars including Gary Puckett, Mitch Ryder, Mark Lindsay, Mark Farner, Gary Lewis, and Micky Dolenz. [10] The 2015 tour featured the Buckinghams, the Cowsills, the Grass Roots, and the Association.

In 2016, the complete output of The Turtles was reissued as two box sets, The Complete Original Album Collection and All the Singles. The expanded editions of the six albums contained in the former were also issued separately in 2017.

In 2018, since Kaylan required heart and back surgery, he was prohibited by his doctors from joining the tour and Ron Dante (from The Archies) stood in for him and also did the honors again in the summer of 2019.


The Turtles


Related Research Articles

Happy Together (song) 1967 single by The Turtles

"Happy Together" is a song by American rock band the Turtles from their third studio album Happy Together (1967). The song was written by Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon, arranged by Chip Douglas, and produced by Joe Wissert.

Flo & Eddie American comedic musical duo

Flo & Eddie are a musical pop duo consisting of Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (Eddie).

White Whale Records was an American independent record label, founded in 1965 by Ted Feigin and Lee Lasseff in Los Angeles, California, and probably best known as the record label of The Turtles and a handful of one-hit wonder bands.

Howard Kaylan American singer

Howard Kaylan is an American rock and roll musician and writer, best known as a founding member and lead singer of the 1960s band The Turtles, and as "Eddie" in the 1970s rock band Flo & Eddie.

Mark Volman American singer

Mark Volman is an American rock and roll guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter, best known as a founding member of the Turtles. Volman became a stand-out figure upon joining the Mothers of Invention under the tutelage of Frank Zappa. At times during his career he has used the pseudonym "Flo", working alongside his friend and partner Howard Kaylan; they at times have used the stage names of Flo & Eddie.

Douglas Farthing Hatlelid, better known as Chip Douglas, is a songwriter, musician, and record producer, whose most famous work was during the 1960s. He was the producer of some of the Monkees biggest hits, including "Daydream Believer" and "Pleasant Valley Sunday".

<i>Illegal, Immoral and Fattening</i> 1975 live album with studio elements by Flo & Eddie

Illegal, Immoral and Fattening is a 1975 comedy rock album recorded by Howard Kaylan ("Eddie") and Mark Volman ("Flo"). A majority of the album comes from live recordings, including three songs that first appeared in the 1974 film Down and Dirty Duck.Illegal, Immoral and Fattening and Moving Targets were reissued on a single compact disc in 2007 by Acadia Records.

<i>Moving Targets</i> (Flo & Eddie album) 1976 studio album by Flo & Eddie

Moving Targets is an album by Flo & Eddie. Illegal, Immoral and Fattening and Moving Targets were reissued on a single compact disc in 2007 by Acadia Records.

<i>Rock Steady with Flo & Eddie</i> 1981 studio album by Flo & Eddie

Rock Steady with Flo & Eddie was Flo & Eddie's last album as a duo, released in 1981. It is a strait-laced collection of rocksteady & reggae songs recorded at Bob Marley's Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, including a remake of the 1967 Turtles hit "Happy Together". According to AllMusic, the album was later re-released under the title Prince Flo & Jah Edward I.

<i>Happy Together</i> (The Turtles album) 1967 studio album by The Turtles

Happy Together is the third studio album by the American rock band the Turtles. It was released in April 1967 on White Whale Records.

<i>You Baby</i> 1966 studio album by The Turtles

You Baby is the second studio album by the American rock band the Turtles. It was released in 1966 on the White Whale Records label. For the album, the group composed much more original material.

<i>Turtle Soup</i> 1969 studio album by The Turtles

Turtle Soup is the fifth and final studio album by the American rock band the Turtles. It was released in 1969 on the White Whale Records label. The album was produced by Ray Davies of The Kinks – the first time he produced another artist's record. A 1993 Repertoire Records CD-issue included 8 bonus tracks. A 1996 Sundazed Records reissue included two bonus tracks.

<i>The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands</i> 1968 studio album by The Turtles

The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands is the fourth studio album released by the American rock band the Turtles. Produced by Chip Douglas, it was released in November 1968 by White Whale Records. It includes John Barbata's final recorded performances with the band; he left shortly after its release to join Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Barbata's eventual replacement, former Spanky and Our Gang drummer John Seiter, also contributed to the album. Some issues of the album were retitled Elenore.

<i>The History of Flo & Eddie and the Turtles</i> 1983 box set by Flo & Eddie

The History of Flo & Eddie and the Turtles was a three-LP box set album from Flo & Eddie, issued in 1983 by Rhino Records. The first LP included a song recorded by an early incarnation of The Turtles under the name The Crossfires, a selection of rarities by The Turtles themselves, including a BBC session recording of their signature song "Happy Together", and songs from their first post-Turtles album, The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie, from 1972. The second LP contained songs from their next 3 albums: Flo & Eddie (1973), Illegal, Immoral and Fattening (1975), and Moving Targets (1976). The final LP in the set featured songs recorded for film and TV soundtracks, linked with excerpts from The Flo & Eddie Radio Show. This box set has never been reissued on CD.

Elenore American song by the Turtles

"Elenore" is a 1968 song by the Turtles, originally included on The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands. Although written by Howard Kaylan, its writing was co-credited to all five members of the band: Kaylan, Mark Volman, Al Nichol, Jim Pons, and John Barbata. The song was written as a satire of their biggest pop hit "Happy Together."

<i>Flo & Eddie</i> (album) 1973 studio album by Flo & Eddie

Flo & Eddie is the second album from Flo & Eddie. After being out of print since the 1970s, it was released on CD for the first time in 2008 in a package that includes their first album, The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie (1972).

You Showed Me 1968 single by the Turtles

"You Showed Me" is a song written by Jim McGuinn and Gene Clark of the Byrds in 1964. It was recorded by the Turtles and released as a single at the end of 1968, becoming the group's last big hit in the U.S. The song has also been covered by a number of other bands and artists over the years, including the Lightning Seeds, Salt-n-Pepa, and Lutricia McNeal.

<i>More Golden Hits</i> 1970 greatest hits album by The Turtles

More Golden Hits is a 1970 greatest hits album by American rock band the Turtles. It was released on White Whale Records.

Shes My Girl single by The Turtles

"She's My Girl" is a 1967 song and single from the Turtles. It was released on the White Whale record label and reached the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the same year. It was later released as a bonus track on the album, Happy Together by Sundazed Records in 1994. The song is considered a more experimental composition for the Turtles, and was also accompanied by a 16mm music video.

"Christmas Is My Time of Year" is a Christmas single written by Howard Kaylan and Chip Douglas, both members of the Turtles.


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