Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Chief, Jun 21, 2019.
Happy Birthday Mark Volman! 'Ich Bin Maroon!'
I interacted with him on Twitter only yesterday:
I liked that little bit of Dirty Duck music
June 22, 1947
With just one pop classic, Howard Kaylan established himself as a legend and a national treasure. Yet he has gone way beyond that with not only The Turtles but Flo & Eddie, Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention, and so many different artists and even mediums to leave an indelible mark on our popular culture.
Born in the Bronx and raised largely in Los Angeles’ neighborhood of Westchester, Howard was enamored with show business from a young age. Music, movies, comedy, and this new thing called television, it didn’t matter, all represented an endless stream of dreams and possibilities. At school, he mastered at clarinet and in the school choir. There, he’d meet Mark Volman (don’t mispell that, it’s not Marc Bolan, it’s Mark Volman), with whom he’d develop an instant rapport. Besides constantly cracking each other up to the choirmaster’s constant chagrin, they also found their voices worked supremely well together. Through this friendship, Mark would find his way into Howard’s band The Nightriders, first as a roadie and then sharing sax and vocal duties with Howie.
Thanks in part to Mark’s connections the surf rock crowd, the Nightriders, now The Crossfires, developed a following and reputation as a real rocking teenage combo. And after a few early attempts at recording singles, the group was offered a deal to record a cover of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe”. With a folk rock sound, the Crossfires knew their name wouldn’t make much sense, so they changed it to...The Turtles. Well, bands named after animals were the in-thing after all.
Despite their talent and a solid set of singles, the Turtles initially struggled to find their niche, that sound that just screamed “Turtles”. That all changed when they were presented with a worn out demo of a song by two members of The Magicians. “Happy Together” is a song that’s so baked into our cultural psyche, it can be easy to forget something-it’s a GREAT song. It is true pop perfection, and one major reason for that is Howard. His voice possessing the warmth of the sun, it evokes this romantic quality that we associate with love songs. At the same time, it has this playful quality that captures the innocence of youth, with all its irreverence and spirit. Then blend it with Mark’s voice, and voila.
With that bullet, the sky was truly the limit. The Turtles managed to overthrow a Beatles song on the charts, appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and other such programs, toured the world, had a perfect little thing going on. But not interested in keeping to a formula, the Turtles followed up the Happy Together record with a concept album inspired by all the battle of the bands they used to play in. Through The Turtles Present The Battle Of The Band, the band took on the guise of a different band on each track. In the process, they revealed themselves to be quite a talented and versatile group. And for those that don’t know, The Turtles were the rare self contained pop group of sixties LA, making it all the more impressive. They’d then follow it up with the Ray Davies produced Turtle Soup, quite a fine record in its own right. And then everything came to a grinding halt.
White Whale had done the band dirty. The band had ended up with a really crummy deal, the label in general was disintegrating, and were trying to convince Mark and Howard to drop the band and follow the assembly line model. With the Turtles done and over, and the deal preventing Mark and Howard from using the Turtles name or even their own names, things were pretty bleak. Also at a crossroad during this time was Frank Zappa. After disbanding the original Mothers Of Invention and experimenting with various smaller lineups, Frank was ready to put a second version of the Mothers Of Invention together. As the saying goes, if you want to be as big as the Turtles, then you have to get some Turtles. So Frank got some Turtles, those Turtles became Flo & Eddie due to the aforementioned contact, and the rest is history.
The Mothers 2.0 stepped away from the dada and social commentary of the original band, putting its aesthetic and satire instead towards the big rock show, show business, and pop stardom. As people who had enjoyed the big hits and mainstream success The Mothers hadn’t, Mark and Howard gave the satire a stamp of credibility. As naturally funny and likable personalities, they were also able to sell the raunch and debauchery with a wink and a smile that invited you to laugh rather than grimace. Vocally, the two provided Frank with a new color in his palette, their voices able to serve as instruments in their own right. Across countless shows and records like Fillmore East, “Billy The Mountain”, and the film and soundtrack of 200 Motels, Mark and Howard with Zappa turned out to be a far better team than imagined. Thanks to one another, both were able to reveal a different side of themselves not known to most beforehand and were able to build a life after the end of their original bands. Mark and Howard were able to finally able to move beyond the bubblegum image people had of them and learn from a truly brilliant bandleader and composer. In return, Frank was able to establish his ability to reboot, revamp, and once again bring a delightfully strange yet brilliant group of people together towards a shared goal-play Frank’s music and play it well so as to avoid the death glare that could give Kubrick a run for his money. Frank would later refer to Mark and Howard as perhaps the best entertainers that he ever worked with on stage, and it seems that watching them work helped him grow as a frontman and live performer.
Of course, Frank got pushed off the stage by some dickhead, and the band effectively ended. Luckily, Mark and Howard are quite tenacious individuals and were able to rebound. Flo & Eddie would end up recording a string of very entertaining and engaging records as well as contributing music and voice work to Down And Dirty Duck, which is basically Fritz The Cat meets 200 Motels or Yellow Submarine. Beyond their own records, the two would become in-demand session singers, providing backing vocals on all the classic T.Rex stuff, Blondie’s Autoamerican, Alice Cooler’s 1978-82 studio output, Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Hearts”, The Psychedelic Furs’ Forever Now and The Ramones’ Mondo Bizarro. Along with contributing music to Strawberry Shortcake specials and The Care Bears, with Howard himself publishing a memoir and writing a movie about his dinner with Jimi called...My Dinner With Jimi. And for a cherry on top? They manage to get all their rights to the Turtles stuff back and are the rare artists to own their own masters.
Howard has had such an amazing life and career, one that simply has to be seen to believe. He is a true American treasure that we are so fortune to have with us, so for him, everybody sing along like a big rock show.
I see once again the happy together tour is on for 2021 and without Howard. It's not the same without him and it's hard for me to go and watch the Turtles perform with Ron Dante in his place. So, I'm passing on the show again till Howard gets back ( that is if he ever does. )
I follow him on Twitter, and he's very clear that he's never going back on the road.
Here's the latest news. Sorry.
Just Volman? I don't think I'd go, Howard was the lead singer and gabster. Howard must be in poor health.
I absolutely love the Happy Together album
The dude is 74, nearly a decade past mandatory retirement for most working folks. I think he's earned the right to kick back for a bit.
He's certainly earned the right, but it's not the same without him. Ron Dante doesn't make up for Howard in the Turtles.
And isn't really trying to either. The Turtles HT sets have gotten really short, with Dante singing a couple of his own (Archies) hits, and just the most obligatory Turtles hits. It's too bad, but I hope Howard is having good times and I'm glad I saw him so many times.
Granted, but how else is Mark going to earn a living?
For what it’s worth, he’s worked as a professor and he and Howard still own their masters.
That said, I don’t know how he lives or whatever, and I think Mark almost needs to be able to perform judging from everything I’ve seen and read of him.
Ok, then. It's quite possible Howard wants to perform, but medical issues make that no longer an option, like how Linda Ronstadt is no longer able to sing - at least to her own satisfaction.
Jeez Louise. I'm several years younger than Kaylan and I don't even want to attend a concert let alone perform in one!
That brings the question, I wonder if Howard still gets paid from the tour for not performing ? I wonder if he has a deal like Brian when it comes to the touring Beach Boys ?
Since this thread was revived, is anyone aware of an online sessionography for the group?
This was done by "perfect pitch ". This is the closest to a sessionography you will get for now.
The Turtles Recording Sessionograpy?
Too bad that Howard has decided to not tour anymore but I completely understand why. Howard was a true entertainer on stage and he (as well as Mark), always made those "Happy Together" tours a great fun experience! I have to be honest and say that I find it nice that Ron Dante "finally" found a place to be a part of a REAL band after always being the front man for groups that were never real, like The Archies and The Cuff Links and of course, his long run as the producer of most of Barry Manilow's biggest hits.
Howard sounds like the records. Financially just read his autobiography.....he wasn't in the best shape. At least we don't get the Grassroots with nobody before 1979 line-up.
IMO, the Turtles did have one perfect album in The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands. It's one of the funniest concept albums ever made, but many of the songs work on their own as serious pop-rock songs like the hits "Elenore" (However satirical the intent, it still works as a great pop song) and "You Showed Me". "Earth Anthem" is one of the most beautiful ecologically conscious songs ever written, and "The Last Thing I Remember", although also a bit satirical, is a sublime piece of Baroque psych. Several of the others songs, like the hilarious country tear-jerker "Too Much Heartsick Feeling", are pure spoofs, but they're great spoofs. With this album, the Turtles took the Sgt. Pepper fictitious band concept to a whole new level by becoming 12 fictitious bands competing in a battle of the bands, but ultimately coming together as "All" to sing "Earth Anthem." There are no substandard filler songs, and after hearing it, I remember thinking, "The Turtles are venturing into Mothers of Invention territory. And sure enough, after the Ray Davies-produced (and all original) Turtle Soup (another fine album which may come close to being their Odessey and Oracle), Flo and Eddie and Jim Pons all joined the Mothers.
“Outside Chance” is one of my favorite Turtles songs
Mine too, probably my favorite.
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