If Turtles are supposed to move slow – especially as they get older – than nobody told that to Howard Kaylan, lead vocalist for the ’60s band of the same name who had a string of hits with pop rock nuggets like “You Showed Me,” “She’d Rather Be With Me,” “You Baby,” “Elenore,” a cover of Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe,” and – of course – “Happy Together.”
Kaylan is spending the summer fronting the 2013 Turtles on the “Happy Together” ’60s band package tour, and plans to write new music and fiction pieces.
He has also just released his autobiography, Shell Shocked, which starts with perhaps the most memorable intro of any rock book I’ve ever read: It’s 1969 and The Turtles, hired to play Tricia Nixon’s birthday party, are snorting lines of coke off Abe Lincoln’s desk in the White House. It gets weirder from there. And that’s before Kaylan and co-vocalist Mark Volman join Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.
I recently interviewed Kaylan for a two-part profile in The Houston Press (You can read Part 1 and Part 2 here), and he told me that he knew immediately that “Happy Together” was going to be a smash hit.
“I would say we knew from the first minute that we heard it played back in the studio that it would be the biggest record we ever made and a No. 1 song. And that’s pretty arrogant for two teenage mutant ninja Turtles!” Kaylan says of his and Volman’s initial reaction. “We had a few hits before, but we knew something was magical about that particular song.”