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Turtles, The

The Turtles were a pop/rock quintet from 1963 to 1969 with varying personnel, though always featuring lead singer Howard Kaylan and backup/harmony singer Mark Volman. Other original members were guitarists Al Nichol and Jim Tucker, and bass player Chuck Portz.

They began life as a surf band called The Crossfires, but by the time their debut album was ready to release, they had become a folk/rock group singing Bob Dylan songs, including their first hit It Ain’t Me Babe.


More characteristic of their style was the sweet pop hit You Baby of 1966. The Turtles topped the charts with Happy Together in 1967 (also their first British hit) and scored several more hits – including pop classics Elenore and She’d Rather Be With Me.

At the start of 1967, drummer Don Murray and then bassist Chuck Portz quit the group being replaced by Joel Larson and then John Barbata on drums, and by Chip Douglas on bass who also became the group’s music arranger.

Impressed by Chip’s studio work, Michael Nesmith approached him to become The Monkees‘ new producer, as that band wanted to break out of their “manufactured” studio mold.


Douglas accepted, left the Turtles and was replaced by bassist and singer Jim Pons.

On 10 May 1969, The Turtles performed with The Temptations at a ball at the White House in Washington DC in honour of President Nixon‘s daughter Tricia. Being West Coast longhairs, the band were subjected to intense security scrutiny, with two security officers for every member of the band.

Singers Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman retired to a quiet room where they hoovered up sufficient quantities of cocaine (reputedly on Abraham Lincoln’s desk) to start the show so wired that Volman fell off the stage five times.

The group split up at the end of the 60s in a flurry of lawsuits and counter-claims.

After the band disintegrated, Kaylan and Volman hooked up with Frank Zappa in The Mothers Of Invention and ultimately performed by themselves as Flo and Eddie. Today they continue to perform as both Flo and Eddie and The Turtles.

turtles_9Howard Kaylan
Mark Volman

Al Nichol

Jim Tucker

Chuck Portz

Don Murray

John Barbata

Chip Douglas
Jim Pons
Bass, vocals