Book review: Shell Shocked: My Life with the Turtles, Flo & Eddie and Frank Zappa by Howard Kaylan

Shell Shocked: My Life with the Turtles, Flo & Eddie and Frank Zappa by Howard Kaylan with Jeff Tamarkin

Backbeat Books www.backbeatbooks.com

For a man behind timeless pop classics like the Turtles ‘Happy Together’, Howard Kaylan has certainly led a colourful rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle! For rock ‘n’ roll debauchery Howard Kaylan and his long standing musical partner Mark Volman take some beating, from wild parties whilst in the Turtles in their late 60’s heyday, through to the their time as Flo & Eddie and then onto touring as part of the backing band to the legendary Frank Zappa.

What is interesting is Kaylan’s insights, often quite surprising, into fellow rock stars from that time including John Lennon, Frank Zappa and Marc Bolan, the latter who he sang backing vocals on various of his albums. For a reader looking for a musical history of Kaylan’s work and bands this isn’t it as there is no discography and he briefly mentions line-up changes in the Turtles and the Mothers Of Invention.

Another fascinating piece is that he and Mark Volman were behind the music features on the US cartoon hit ‘Strawberry Shortcake’ which is still shown today. In fact my only criticism of the book is that he hardly allocates much of the book to his musical career post-1980, although I guess the reader is going to want to know more about the 1960’s and 1970’s period.

Kaylan has a witty prose and although he has regrets (he is onto his fifth marriage and now seems settled), he often adds little pearls of wisdom of the reader and let’s face it he had a blast for most of the time. Like many rock musicians the hardest part seems to be switching between the on the road/performing side to the husband/family man side.

Highly recommended read even if like me you are not overly familiar with his musical past.

By Jason Ritchie




 

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