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Interview with DLTSP (part 1/4)
Howard Kaylan is a founding member and the lead singer of the sixties super group known as The Turtles.
Born in New York City on June 22, 1947, the young Howard studied choral music and clarinet during his formative years in Los Angeles and won the Bank of America Fine Arts Award at the age of 16. Shortly thereafter, he graduated early from Westchester High School as valedictorian and began a scholarship at UCLA. There, he enjoyed his time on the university’s radio station even more than academia. So when destiny called and his weekend combo was signed to produce it’s first record, Howard quit school and decided to take his chances.
The Turtles were to go on to phenomenal success with ten top-ten singles and over five years of chart recordings. They performed all over the world and their signature hit, “HAPPY TOGETHER” knocked the Beatles‘ “PENNY LANE” out of the number one slot in America. The Turtles were fixtures on television appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show a number of times as well as the Smothers Brothers’ Comedy Hour and countless others. In 1970, they were selected to be the first rock and roll band to ever play at the White House (Tricia Nixon‘s birthday) and yet, the following week, they were headlining at the world-famous Fillmore Auditorium in New York.
When the band broke up at the end of 1970, Howard and his partner Mark turned down offers to join other groups and signed on as members of Frank Zappa‘s elite band of musical comedians, The Mothers of Invention. Five albums and the motion picture, “200 MOTELS” came from that fruitful partnership as did the nom de plume “Flo and Eddie” as Howard and Mark were not allowed legal use of their own names until multiple Turtle lawsuits were settled. Four albums followed on Warner Brothers and Columbia Records. They also produced many albums for other bands and artists, as well as singing background on over 100 albums. Flo and Eddie can be heard singing with John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, The Ramones, Blondie, Duran Duran, The Psychedelic Furs, T. Rex, Alice Cooper and dozens more.
In the 1980’s, “Rock Steady With Flo and Eddie” was recorded in Kingston Jamaica and the partners began writing comedy and script with Chris Bearde, Larry Gelbart and Carl Gotleib. Simultaneously, they began writing regularly featured columns for Creem, Phonograph Record Magazine and the infamous L.A. Free Press.
Shortly thereafter, Flo and Eddie were retained as the composers for two very successful animated television projects, “Strawberry Shortcake” and “The Care Bears.” The duo also began a career in the radio industry, beginning their own show on L.A.’s famous KMET and then moving on to KROQ with their own Sunday night program of celebrity zaniness. Ten years later, they would find themselves on radio daily following Howard Stern on New York’s legendary K-ROCK.
Throughout his career, Howard has also appeared as an actor. He was featured in the motion picture, “GET CRAZY” starring Malcolm McDowell and Daniel Stern as Captain Cloud, a nickname to which he still answers. Also, he portrayed an orthodox minister who “married” Laura to Stavros in a dream sequence on “General Hospital,” an old hippie on “Suddenly Susan” and a younger one on the “Garry Shandling Show.”
In 1985, the old lawsuits were finally settled and the name, “The Turtles” reverted to Howard and his partner after fifteen years in litigation, as well as all of the master recordings they made. Thanks to Burger King, the NFL, Sony Playstation, and countless other television commercials and motion pictures, the Turtles’ catalog remains a staple for licensing and reproduction in the twenty-first century.
In the mid-nineties, Howard turned his attention to the collecting and writing of dark fantasy and science fiction. He scribed two short stories, by way of experimentation, and both were published in the best-selling anthologies, “Phantoms of the Night” and “Forbidden Acts.” He also currently pens the widely read “Eddie’s Media Corner” on the official Website, theturtles.com.
In 2001, Howard wrote a treatment for a very short film about his first night on tour in London. After bringing it to his good friend (and Rhino Records president) Harold Bronson for input, the project was lengthened and shot as a one-hour movie. The following year, scenes were added and it was back into the movie studio once again to complete what would now be a full-length feature. “MY DINNER WITH JIMI” is the first film written by Howard Kaylan. It is produced by Harold Bronson for Rhino Entertainment and directed by Bill Fishman, (“Tapeheads” “Car 54, Where Are You?”) for Fallout Films.
The Turtles continue to perform, doing between 60 and 75 concerts each year. Howard lives in Seattle, Washington and commutes to Hollywood where he anxiously anticipates the release of his first major picture.