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    Kaylan, Howard (22 June 1947 – Present)

    Singer-songwriter from the Bronx, New York, whose family relocated to Manhattan, then Utica, and finally settled in Westchester, Los Angeles, California.  He attended Airport Junior High School and took clarinet lessons as a youth, although he was much more interested in singing. 

     

    While at Westchester High School, he met Mark Volman, and the two of them became fast friends and sang together in the Westchester High A Capella Choir.  They co-formed their own choral group, The Crosswind Singers, which also included Betty McCartney and Al Nichol. 

     

    In their copious free time, Al and Howard started up a surf-rock band that was rounded out by Don Murray and Dale Walton.  Dale was eventually supplanted by Jim Tucker and soon Mark was on board, as well, as an alto saxophonist.  (Howard played the tenor saxophone.) 

     

    The band was originally called The Nightriders but they changed their moniker to The Crossfires in 1963.  They were a big hit on the college circuit, rocking out to mostly instrumental covers of party favourites such as “Money” and “What’d I Say”, replete with the obligatory expletives.  This lyric-changing didn’t go over so well at Westchester Women’s Club, however, and the band was banned from Westchester. 

     

    Undaunted, the surf rockers took to the surf, namely Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, and Torrance, repeatedly winning battles of the bands.  One of these blue-ribbon performances landed them a steady gig at the Revelaire Club.  They were about to quit the club when Ted Feigin and Lee Lasseff approached them with a record deal on a label to be named later. 

     

    In 1964, The British Invasion changed the face of music, and Feigin and Lasseff were eager to capitalize on the ensuing craze.  They changed the name of The Crossfires to The Turtles and the band basically emulated The Beatles, as best they could.  For a long time, people actually believed The Turtles were English. 

     

    Opening for Herman’s Hermits at the Rose Bowl in front of 50,000 screaming fans couldn’t have hurt in advancing the ruse.  Hardly English at all was their first hit record, a cover of “It Ain’t Me Babe”, which was penned by Bob Dylan.  The song was a smash, and The Turtles were on the musical map.  Then they went on the road with Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars and cemented their newfound reputation as a rock band with national appeal. 

     

    Perhaps their most well-known hit, “Happy Together”, was penned by Gary Bonner and Alan Gordon, who were in a band named The Magicians.  When The Turtles recorded it, it was magic.  The song shot to #1, dethroning “Penny Lane” in the process, no less. 

     

    As it turns out, members of The Turtles’ management were not so happy together.  Their road manager was trying to take their manager’s job, borrowed lots of money from the band to pay him off, and eventually fled to Mexico.  In turn, their manager, Bill Utley, sued them for not honouring their contract with him.  As they didn’t have 3-1/2 million dollars lying around, custody of the band was awarded to Utley.  In the meantime, another lawsuit was filed by a law firm in New York. 

     

    All of this was a bit much for the twenty-somethings who, after all, just wanted to make music.  Although The Turtles’ hits virtually financed White Whale records, the label was strict and demanding.  They only wanted “happy” songs.  Howard was “happy” to oblige them with “Elenore” which he wrote as a joke.  The record execs didn’t get it, and apparently, the public didn’t either, as it became a huge hit. 

     

    Elenore” was on their 1968 album, The Turtles Present The Battle of the Bands, an eleven-track affair that featured the band doing imitations of other groups and genre-hopping from bluegrass to hard rock to psychedelic to surf.  It continues to be a cult classic and curiosity to this day. 

     

    One of The Turtles’ biggest fans was Tricia Nixon, daughter of President Richard Nixon, and she invited them to play at her birthday party in 1970.  This made them the first rock band to ever perform at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 

     

    In June of the same year, “Eve of Destruction” squeaked onto the top 100 but it would prove to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Ray Davies produced their next album, Turtle Soup, and it flopped.  The proverbial nail in the coffin was when the band was forced to record “Who Would Ever Think That I Would Marry Margaret”.  They hated the song, and factoring in its lack of chart success and sales, most everybody else did too. 

     

    The band dissolved in 1970, but Mark and Howard were not long out of work.  Frank Zappa snapped them up and they joined The Mothers of Invention for about a year.  It was a prolific year, nonetheless, resulting in a handful of albums and a movie entitled 200 Motels. 

     

    For some legal reason pertaining to one or both of the aforementioned lawsuits, Mark and Howard were not even allowed to use their own names on records, so they went by the absurdist pseudonym, Phlorescent Leech and Eddie, which was the title of their 1972 album on Reprise. 

     

    The duo recorded with a number of artists and groups, as well as releasing their own albums.  They even did voice-overs for cartoons such as 1974’s Down and Dirty Duck.  “Flo and Eddie” did nearly everything together, including writing columns for Creem, L.A. Free Press, and Phonograph Record. 

     

    Ever the humourists, they added Andy Cahan to their ranks and spoofed Pink Floyd’s The Wall with “Flo and Eddie’s The Fence”.  They parlayed their madcap hilarity to radio and hosted shows on KMET and KROQ.  In 1980, they sang background vocals on Bruce Springsteen’s first top-ten hit, “Hungry Heart”. 

     

    Howard wrote for TV as well, scoring Strawberry Shortcake in Big Apple City, Strawberry Shortcake:  Pets on Parade, and The World of Strawberry Shortcake.  He played Captain Cloud in the 1983 movie, Get Crazy, a comedy co-starring Daniel Stern and Malcolm McDowell. 

     

    In 1984, “Flo and Eddie” rejoined The Turtles for a nostalgia tour that included The Association, Gary Puckett, and Spanky and Our Gang.  They made similar concert appearances in 1985 with The Buckinghams, The Grass Roots, and Gary Lewis.  These tours were enormously successful and a harbinger of things to come.  In the new millennium, nostalgia tours continue to be popular. 

     

    At long last, in 1985, Howard and Mark were allowed to use their real names, and their decade-and-a-half, litigious nightmare was over.  In 1989, the pair returned to radio and co-hosted their own show for about two years on WXRK-FM in New York. 

     

    Howard had always been a fan of horror and science fiction and began writing short stories in the 1990s.  His works appear in the anthologies, Forbidden Acts and Phantoms of the Night. 

     

    He then turned his attention to the big screen and penned the autobiographical film, My Dinner with Jimi, an account of a real-life encounter with Jimi Hendrix in London, England.  The movie was filmed in 2003, played the festival circuit, and was finally released in theaters in 2006.  Its release coincided with Howard’s debut solo CD, Dust Bunnies, which was recorded at Billy Bob Thornton’s house and features the Oscar-winning actor on vocals on the last track, simply titled “Music”. 

     

    Howard ended the year by holding The Turtles and Beyond Auction, auctioning off Turtles memorabilia including albums, books, magazines, photographs, and other promotional material. 

     

    The Turtles featuring Flo and Eddie reunited with Herman’s Hermits on 4th April 2008 at Aurora, Illinois’ Paramount Theater.  They are still performing upwards from sixty concerts per year.  It’s just the right amount of live dates for Howard, who is still trying to make in-roads into film and is in the process of writing his autobiography. 

     

    For more biographical info on this versatile artist, check out his website, listed below.

     

    Bruce Springsteen recordings

    Hungry Heart (Bruce Springsteen)

     

    Sources:

    1. http://howardkaylan.com/
    2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Kaylan
    3. http://blogcritics.org/music/article/an-interview-with-howard-kaylan-of/
    4. http://www.theturtles.com/turtles.html
    5. http://www.united-mutations.com/k/howard_kaylan.htm
    6. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0443433/bio
    7. http://www.nndb.com/people/834/000118480/
    8. http://www.discogs.com/artist/Howard+Kaylan

           

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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