Shell Shocked Named Shindig’s Best Book of 2013

Howard Kaylan and Jeff Tamarkin’s Shell Shocked – My Life With the Turtles, Flo and Eddie, and Frank Zappa, etc. has been named Shindig! magazine’s Best Book of 2013, and we have the award to prove it. Below is the review that ran in the August 2013 issue of Shindig! Go to Shindig’s website for more info.


Just in case you’re in a hurry, here’s your bullet point: Best Rock ’n’ Roll Memoir Ever. In fact, I could probably say “music bios in general” and still be right about that. (Remember: my opinion completely outranks yours. But I’m only here to help.)

It’s always been a bit annoying to contemplate the way Serious Music Fans dismissed The Turtles as just another fluffy pop group, until the day that Kaylan and Volman (and Jim Pons) became fixtures in Frank Zappa’s band. But the ’70s were way more polarised than younger folks think they were – mainly due to our own revisionism. “Oh, yes, I always loved The Dave Clark Five, The Monkees and The Turtles”. The hell you did, old man. You’re lying through your replacement teeth. You were one of the King Crimson fans who were sneering at me (or worse!) for still loving those bands in 1974.

Nowadays, of course, people have come around. Sage music journalists (I know they’re still out there – one of them co-wrote this book) speak reverently of pop music purveyors like The Turtles with the same worshipping tone they use for the ’67 Kinks and Zombies. As well they should. And Kaylan’s book is right on time.

No need to rehash his CV here – you’re reading Shindig! after all. Suffice to say Howard remembers everything, is hiding nothing, and – unlike most “oldies” artists – still has one ear to the ground. He tells his tale in his own voice, and it stays riveting from start to finish. He’s honest about The Drug Years, without falling into the predictable David Crosby/Jimmy Greenspoon grey narrative that reads like Matthew 1 and Luke 3: “Monday – woke up, freebased. Tuesday – woke up, freebased. Wednesday – didn’t wakeup. Thursday…”

No, it’s a great book, and interesting all the way through. Kaylan knows everybody, remember, and he names names. Better even, he’s still out there pounding the road into submission a hundred or so nights every year.

This is a 262-page book. It could have been 500 and I still would have been sorry when it was over.

With any luck, he’s left something for Volman to write about. I’m sitting by the phone, Mark!

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 January 15, 2014, in Music Fans, Music Industry and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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