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Music / The Turtles

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"Me and you and you and me
No matter how they tossed the dice, it had to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together

The Turtles are a folk-rock band from Los Angeles that formed in 1965 and originally ran through 1970. They were headed by Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman (later known as Flo & Eddie) and are best known for their hit songs including "Happy Together", "She'd Rather Be With Me", "You Showed Me", "Elenore", and a Cover of Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe".

As usual, you can find the basics at The Other Wiki.


Principal Members (Founding members in bold):

  • John Barbata - drums (1966–69)
  • Chip Douglas - bass (1966–67)
  • Howard Kaylan - keyboards, percussion, vocals (1965–70)
  • Joel Larson - drums (1966)
  • Don Murray - drums (1965–66)
  • Al Nichol - guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals (1965–70)
  • Jim Pons (1967–70)
  • Chuck Portz - bass (1965–66)
  • John Seiter - drums (1969–70)
  • Jim Tucker - guitar (1965–67)
  • Mark Volman - guitar, percussion, special effects, vocals (1965–70)


Album Discography:

  • 1965 - It Ain't Me Babe
  • 1966 - You Baby
  • 1967 - Happy Together
  • 1968 - The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands
  • 1969 - Turtle Soup
  • 1970 - Wooden Head (a collection of previously-unreleased stray tracks from earlier in their career)

The Turtles are the Trope Namer for:

"When you're with me baby the tropes will be blue for all my life":

  • Battle of the Bands: Their fourth studio album, released in 1968, was titled The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands which was a Concept Album where they pretended to be 11 different bands.
  • The Big Guy: Mark Volman.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: "Elenore." Their initial follow-up singles to "Happy Together" flopped, and the record company told them that they needed another hit of that magnitude, so Kaylan reversed "Happy Together"'s chord progression and added joke lyrics such as "You're my pride and joy, et cetera."
  • Breakup Breakout: Kaylan and Volman renamed themselves Flo & Eddie and would join Frank Zappa's the Mothers of Invention (they can be heard on the albums Chunga's Revenge (1970), Fillmore East, June 1971 (1971), 200 Motels (1971) and Just Another Band from L.A. (1972) and work with everyone from T. Rex to Alice Cooper to Duran Duran and MANY OTHERS. Mark and Howie also lent their voices to the X-rated animated cartoon Down and Dirty Duck. Drummer John Barbata would also move on to Jefferson Airplane, which would become Jefferson Starship not long after he joined.
  • Cover Version: While they wrote a lot of their own material, "Elenore" was their only self-composed major hit.
    • They famously Covered Up Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe" for their first hit.
    • "You Showed Me" was a cover of a Byrds song.
    • They also covered "We'll Meet Again", best known as a Vera Lynn song.
    • Inverted with "Eve of Destruction". While Barry McGuire's version was a bigger hit and is much better known now, the Turtles actually recorded and released the song first. (Its composer, P.F. Sloan, penned several other songs for them, including the hits "You Baby" and "Let Me Be".)
  • Broken Pedestal: Jim Tucker left the group after they had an unpleasant encounter with John Lennon, who he idolized, at a London nightclub in 1967.
  • "Days of the Week" Song: "Somewhere Friday Night"
  • Fat and Skinny: Volman (fat) and Kaylan (skinny), especially after they became Flo and Eddie.
  • Funny Afro: Volman began sporting one in the late '60s, and at one point was reported to have gotten it insured for $100,000.
  • Genre Shift: They started out as a Garage Rock/Surf Rock band called The Crossfires, before going into the folk rock/pop direction that made them famous.
  • Groupie Brigade: In his autobiography Howard Kaylan makes clear that even though he and Volman didn't possess teen idol looks, they still attracted plenty of groupies in the band's heyday.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Kaylan and Volman first met in chorus class in high school, and over 50 years later still maintain a professional music partnership.
  • Longest Song Goes Last:
    • "Like a Rolling Stone" on It Ain't Me Babe (3:10)
    • "Rugs of Woods and Flowers" on Happy Together (3:00)
    • "Earth Anthem" on The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands (3:53)
  • Long Title: "Who Would Ever Think That I Would Marry Margaret".
  • Money Song: "Gas Money"
  • My Nayme Is: A very literal case when Howard Kaplan decided to change his last name to Kaylan.
  • Nerd Glasses: Favored by Volman.
  • One-Woman Song: "Elenore," "Rebecca"
  • Protest Song: "Eve of Destruction", "Let Me Be"
  • Rearrange the Song: In their later career as Flo & Eddie, Volman and Kaylan recorded a faster, punchier rendition of "Elenore" and a Reggae version of "Happy Together".
  • Record Producer: Bassist Chip Douglas left in 1967 to become one of these for The Monkees, although he'd return to produce The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Volman (red) would run around the stage doing antics while Kaylan (blue) would stay at the mic doing his lead vocal and act like he didn't notice.
  • Revolving Door Band: Kaylan, Volman and Nichol were there from beginning to end, but there was a lot of turnover among the other musicians.
  • Self-Plagiarism: "You Don't Have to Walk in the Rain" is an obvious musical rewrite of "Elenore".
  • Silly Love Songs: "You Showed Me," "She'd Rather Be With Me". "Happy Together" brings the trope into conscious self-parody, "Elenore" even more so.
  • The Something Song: "The Walking Song"
  • Sudden Name Change:
    • After building a following in Southern California as The Crossfires, when they signed a record contract their manager told them to become The Turtles, since it was close to The Beatles and would make people think they were British instead of American, which didn't hurt back in 1965.
    • When they were with Zappa, Kaylan was The Phlorescent Leech and Volman was Eddie. When they released The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie in 1972, the cover photo had Volman on the left and Kaylan on the right, making it look like Volman should be The Phlorescent Leech, so they went ahead and switched identities.
  • Surfer Dude: "Surfer Dan"
  • Turtle Power: It's in the band's name. Their last original studio album was titled Turtle Soup.
  • Ur-Example: They sued De La Soul for Sampling "You Showed Me" on "Transmitting Live From Mars," and won a large settlement, making them the first act to respond to sampling in that way and setting a legal precedent for the industry.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: In response to The Beatles and The Byrds, they briefly renamed themselves the "Tyrtles", but it didn't take.
  • Younger Than They Look: When "Happy Together" hit #1, Kaylan and Volman were both 19, but Kaylan could've passed for 30 and Volman for mid-20s.


Example of: