Q & A with Howard Kaylan

A very happy birthday to the inimitable Howard Kaylan! Here’s an excerpt of his interview with Rock Cellar Magazine. To read the rest of what Kaylan has to say about his book, Shell Shockedand his successes with The Turtles, visit their site here.

Rock Cellar Magazine: Why choose to do the book yourself, not with your partner Mark Volman?

Howard Kaylan: It never crossed my mind, a dual auto-biography? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that done before. We’re not attached at the hip like some might think. Mark lives in Nashville and I live in Seattle. We moved as geographically far away from each other as we possibly could and that’s what I think keeps us going as a duo. Had we lived in the same town for the last 20 years we’d have been a disappointment to each other and would probably be fighting and at each other’s throats, much like a married couple. You need separation and you need your own space.

RCM: It takes a special kind of person to be the lead singer of a band. Why are you that person?

HK: I figure it’s a nothing-to-lose proposition, I’ve always felt that. I wasn’t really an American Idol kind of kid but I was encouraged by my folks to sing at family gatherings and to join every possible vocal group and choir. I would have to say they were the cause or the influence. There was nothing professional about it. I remember my brother and I took tap dancing and that was frightening. That was sort of an entry to show business.

If you put on tap shoes you’re saying I’m either in for the count or I’m ready to come out and I was way too young to make that decision (laughs).

RCM: When did you realize The Turtles had broken through in America?

HK: Only Happy Together did that. Until that time we were constantly looking over our shoulders because we were hearing a lot of negative information from our record company and our manager was dubious. They kept us on edge purposefully. They had a thing going on between them—record company and management–and they felt we were always “the boys” no matter how old we were or what we were talking about business-wise.

We were “the boys” and I don’t think it’s changed to this day. The Foo Fighters are still “the boys”. Unfortunately for the record company Dave Grohl ain’t a boy so they’re up against it when they try to look at it that way.

As far as we were concerned, we still had the innocence. We were still really babies and we had no generation that preceded us to give us the information that we could follow. We were blind and sort of stumbling our way through it. We knew as soon as we signed with those clowns (White Whale) that it was a bad deal. But it was a deal. We were so desperate to get a deal. Our parents having the right to take the deal away from us in court really pissed us off. It was like, “Don’t do this, Mom, this is my shot.” I know we’re getting ripped off but if we don’t sign this piece of paper we’ll never get this f**king chance so don’t deny me my future or I’m gonna go to UCLA and be miserable on your dime.

Finish reading the interview at Rock Cellar Magazine!

Shell Shocked: My Life with the Turtles, Flo and Eddie, and Frank Zappa, etc.

If Howard Kaylan had sung only one song, the Turtles’ 1967 No. 1 smash hit “Happy Together,” his place in rock-and-roll history would still be secure. But that recording, named in 1999 by BMI as one of the top 50 songs of the 20th century, with over five million radio plays, is only the tip of a rather eye-opening iceberg. For nearly five decades, Howard Kaylan has been a player in the rock-and-roll revolution. In addition to his years with the Turtles, Kaylan was a core member of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention and the dynamic duo Flo and Eddie, and part of glam rock history with Marc Bolan and T. Rex. He’s also given street cred and harmonies to everyone from John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and Alice Cooper to the Ramones and Duran Duran, to name just a few. Howard Kaylan’s life has been a dangerous ride that he is only too happy to report on, naming names and shedding shocking tales of sex, drugs, and creative excess. Shell Shocked will stand alone as not only one of the best-told music-biz memoirs, but one with a truly candid and unmatchable story of rock-and-roll insanity and success from a man who glories in it all.



Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group, the trade book division of Hal Leonard Corporations, publishes books on the performing arts under the imprints Hal Leonard Books, Backbeat Books, Amadeus Press, and Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.

Posted on June 22, 2013, in Music Fans and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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