The Turtles

  • Pop rock band from Los Angeles California, formed in 1965. The original members were Howard Kaylan (born Howard Kaplan, keyboards, vocals, songwriting), Mark Volman (wind instruments, vocals), Al Nichol (guitars), Jim Tucker (guitars), Chuck Portz (bass guitar) and Don Murray (drums).
  • All of the band members were high school friends. They formed a band while in high school, calling themselves The Crossfires, playing surf rock music. They recorded an independent album, called Out Of Control, in 1963 – they were just 16 years old. When they graduated, they had developed a relationship with a local DJ and club owner, who got them signed with a new record label. They rebranded themselves as a folk rock band, changing their name to The Tyrtles, misspelling the name in the same way that The Byrds misspelled their name.
  • The spelling was corrected for their first album, released in 1965, titled It Ain’t Me Babe. It featured the title track, a cover of a Bob Dylan song, which reached #8 on the Hot 100 chart. A second album, You Baby, was released the next year. The title track managed to chart at #20.
  • In 1966, Portz and Murray left the group, replaced by John Barbata and Chip Douglas. Douglas was significant in his contribution to the group, since he did main the arrangement for their biggest hit – Happy Together, released in 1967. The song had been rejected by dozens of other artists before The Turtles picked it up. It was their only #1 song, knocking Penny Lane by the Beatles out of the #1 spot on the Hot 100. Another single from the Happy Together album was She’d Rather Be With Me, which peaked at #3.
  • Douglas soon left to produce the early studio albums by The Monkees, and then returned to The Turtles to produce their next album, titled The Turtles Present The Battle of the Bands, released in late 1968. The album was a group of songs of different styles – from psychedelic rock to bluegrass to hard rock to surf music – all performed by The Turtles as a mock Battle of the Bands. They gave themselves a different band name for each song, including Chief Kamanawanalea and his Royal Macadamia Nuts (note the pun in the name), The Atomic Enchilada, and Fats Mallard and the Bluegrass Fireball. Two singles each reached #6 from this album – Elenore (by the band “Howie, Mark, Johny, Jim & Al”) and You Showed Me (by the band “Nature’s Children”).
  • In 1969, they released their final album of new music, Turtle Soup, produced by Ray Davies of The Kinks, and acclaimed by critics, but largely ignored by the public. By 1970, the band was finished. Kaylan and Volman went on to join Frank Zappa’s band, The Mothers of Invention. Their contract with their old record label prohibited them from using their names with another band, so they called themselves The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie, and soon they became known as Flo & Eddie.
  • Flo & Eddie had a successful run. They sang backing vocals with artists like T. Rex, Alice Cooper and Bruce Springsteen. They had their own syndicated radio program, and they recorded soundtrack music for the children’s shows Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake. In the mid-70s, they won their master recordings back when their record company went bankrupt and the recordings were sold at auction. By 1983, they legally regained the use of the name The Turtles, and they toured as The Turtles Featuring Flo & Eddie. They continue to tour today, along with other performers of the same era, on the Happy Together Tour.
  • Here’s the hit that made them famous – Happy Together. Very 60s here! I used to wear those mutton chop sideburns! This video is hilarious to me! Great song and harmonies!

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