The Turtles

The Turtles

Synopsis of Pop Music

"Me and you, and you and me,
No matter how they toss the dice, it had to be..."

The Turtles are best known for their 1967 #1 hit, “Happy Together”, but that is only one song in an impressive body of work. From good-timey pop to psychedelia to folk-rock, this was a band with both the ambition to explore many different styles of music and the talent to pull it off.

The Turtles began with the friendship of Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, who met in their high school's chorus group. Kaylan had a surf group called the Nightriders with his fellow students, and Volman soon joined up. They got a record contract in 1965 and changed their name to the Turtles (originally spelled ‘Tyrtles’ as a tribute to the Byrds). They chose a Bob Dylan song, “It Ain’t Me Babe,” as their first release and gave it a sharp, Byrds-style treatment. It quickly went Top-10.

The Turtles continued in a folky vein with their next singles, the protest song “Let Me Be” and the poppier “You Baby,” both Top-40 hits. However, they found even bigger success in 1967 with “Happy Together,” a romantic, feel-good pop song that showcased the group’s powerful harmony vocals. A string of Top-20 hits in the same cheerful vein quickly followed: “She’d Rather Be With Me,” the ballad-ish “You Know What I Mean” and “She’s My Girl.”

The Turtles used their pop success to expand their musical frontiers. They began to lean towards a psychedelic sound with releases like “Sound Asleep” and “The Story of Rock And Roll,” but their most interesting experiment was The Turtles Presents the Battle of the Bands, a concept album that had the Turtles assume a different musical style (and appearance) on each song to create the album’s illusion of being a compilation of different bands. The experiment paid off, resulting in two hit singles: the #3 “Elenore” and the #6 “You Showed Me.”

The Turtles split up in 1970 after recording Turtle Soup, an album produced by Ray Davies of the Kinks. Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman took on the new stage names ‘Flo and Eddie’ and became members of Frank Zappa’s touring group. They also began a side career as back-up vocalists, working with artists as diverse as T-Rex and Bruce Springsteen, and developed a popular syndicated radio show. They periodically tour with the Turtles, continuing to bring their original group’s chameleon-like style of music to audiences everywhere.

Artist Release History

1965 - It Ain't Me Babe Rhino
1966 - You Baby Sundazed
1967 - Happy Together Sundazed
1968 - The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands Sundazed
1969 - Turtle Soup Sundazed
1974 - Turtle Wax: The Best of the Turtles, Vol. 2 Rhino
1983 - 20 Greatest Hits Rhino
1992 - The Turtles Captured Live Rhino

Pop Sub Categories


Essential Music Albums

20 Greatest Hits (Rhino)
The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands (Sundazed)

Band Members

Howard Kaylan lead vocals, saxophone
Mark Volman vocals, violin, saxophone
Al Nichol guitar, piano, vocals
Jim Tucker (1965-67) guitar
Chuck Portz (1965-66) bass
Don Murray (1965-66) drums
Jim Pons (1966-70) bass
John Barbata (1966-69) drums
John Seiter (1969-70) drums

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