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Shell Shocked: My Life with the Turtles, Flo & Eddie, and Frank Zappa, Etc.

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  280 ratings  ·  56 reviews
(Book). If Howard Kaylan had sung only one song, the Turtles' 1967 No. 1 smash hit "Happy Together," his place in rock-and-roll history would still be secure. But that recording, named in 1999 by BMI as one of the top 50 songs of the 20th century, with over five million radio plays, is only the tip of a rather eye-opening iceberg. For nearly five decades, Howard Kaylan has ...more
Paperback, 277 pages
Published March 1st 2013 by Backbeat Books
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3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  280 ratings  ·  56 reviews

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Rog Harrison
Apr 28, 2013 rated it liked it
I don't buy many new books these days but when I heard about this one I ordered it right away. I am not a huge fan of Howard Kaylan's music though I do have the Turtles Greatest Hits and a couple of Flo & Eddie albums. Indeed I only saw him perform once when he sang with the Mothers at the Bath Festival in 1970. However Howard Kaylan has always struck me as an interesting person so I thought this would be an interesting book. I found this an amusing and entertaining read though I did struggl ...more
Jun 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
I always thought The Turtles were an underrated band, but I did not know an awful lot about them personally (and I never made the connection that Captain Cloud from Get Crazy, was in fact Howard Kaylan aka "Eddie"). And though there is a long story behind the Flo and Eddie moniker, I did not realize it came from their stint as Frank Zappa's back-up singers. And yes, they were on stage at Montreux when "some stupid with a flare gun, burned the place to the ground." After barely escaping with thei ...more
Jun 06, 2013 rated it liked it
It's a rock autobiography - a light read with lots of name dropping and rollicking accounts of the life. If you're into Frank Zappa, The Turtles, 60's pop and 70's excess, it's another Spinal-Tap tinted window on that world; on that level it's well worth the time reading (and it'll go quickly).

Of course, if you're not into the above, and looking for a more poetic/introspective personal account, you might be disappointed. But that wouldn't be rock and roll, would it?

Allan Heron
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Hugely entertaining book by one of the most underrated vocalists in rock.

It helped knit together all the different relationships of a musical kind that I knew that Howard and partner Mark Volman have enjoyed over the years, and the friendships that underpinned them.

Oddly enough, there is little on his relationship with Volman which seems strange given the length of time that they have been partners.

I had the immense pleasure of seeing The Phlorescent Leech and Eddie supporting Alice Cooper in G
Joab Jackson
Mar 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The guy who sang harmony on "Happy Together" led a fascinating life. Kaylan careened through rock n' roll (& pop culture) history for four decades, making friends with Zappa, Hendrix, Lennon, Nilsson, Brian Jones, Steven Tyler & Joe Perry, Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley, Tom Jones, Ramones, Springsteen, Psych Furs and on and on.

Flo & Eddie -- and Kaylan and and his lifelong partner-in-arms Mark Volman became known as -- knew *everyone* in the biz. A little bit of disciplined high s
Bob Schnell
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Howard Kaylan may not be a household name in rock & pop but everyone knows the Turtles and hits like "Happy Together" and "You Showed Me". Due to typical music biz legal shenanigans, he and his Turtles partner Mark V0lman had to adopt new names and so became Flo & Eddie. Now you've probably heard of them.

Howard's tales of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll are pretty standard but the number of acts he has worked with over the years is pretty incredible. Though the book sometimes replaces story-t
Dec 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Being a pretty big fan of the Turtles' music, I was really amped up to read this when it finally became available on Scribd. It didn't take long before the story of the Swinging Sixties rock star lifestyle (not graphic, but detailed enough to make me shudder a few times) had me questioning the wisdom of getting back stories when I really just love the music for what it is.

Howard lived a coo coo, crazy lifestyle full of drugs, sex, and broken marriages. His commentary while describing it is evid
Aug 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014, biography, music
I felt like I read this book before. Interchangeable with other tales of groupies and cocaine but a fun read nonetheless.
Andrew Hickey
Jun 23, 2013 rated it liked it
(Crossposted from my blog)

For the next month or so, most of my writing time will be taken up with copy-edits on the Beach Boys book and on my novel (along with the Doctor Who posts and How To Build Your Own Time Machine). So for the next month most of what’s posted here will be rather light book reviews.

To start with, Shell-Shocked: My Life With The Turtles, Flo And Eddie, Frank Zappa etc. by Howard Kaylan.

For those who don’t know the name Howard Kaylan, he’s probably most famous as the lead sin
May 20, 2017 rated it liked it
If you've seen the movie "My Dinner with Jimi" (and you should if you like late 60s psychedelia nostalgia), this book is an extension of that tale on up through the 80s and 90s. It's exactly the kind of name dropping, wild rock and roll ride you might expect, but it's also a nostalgic if a bit iconoclastic look at the feelings we of the counterculture or counterculture wannabes had during those times. I confess to shedding a tear or two at Kaylan's heartfelt few paragraphs of gratitude toward li ...more
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
Another book that should have dived a little deeper that how many women I've been with and how many drugs I took and how great I am. I was looking for a little more insight on how recording and touring changed from the primitive days of the early 60's as well as detail about what the artists Howard worked with were like. These just seem like little tidbits from his diaries. Maybe Mark Volman will write a book with that stuff in it.
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must read if you love your rock history. Some ridiculous stories. The yarn about when The Turtles first landed in the UK is mind-blowing... Graham Nash, Donovan, a pre-release sneak peak of Sgt Peppers, The Beatles, Hendrix, Brian Jones. The book opens with the line "I was snorting coke on Abraham Lincoln’s desk in the White House".
Tracy Sweet
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Enjoyable and entertaining. Howard's sense of humour shines in his writing. A thorough chronological register of his life and man has lived! Interesting anecdotes about certain famous beings. I heartily recommend it!
Pierce Cooney
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Audiobook, read by Howard himself. Loved every minute. A must for all music/Zappa fans.
Cameron Seams
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Its an amazing book about Howard Kaylan's life and as a fan of the music he did I loved it from page one to the very back of the book
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read

Witty and interesting read by one of the funniest guys from the classic rock era. Not nearly as much of a downer as a lot of the other rock autobiographies I have read.
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 1960s, autobiography
Started off really interesting with lots of details but eventually became a bit of a drag ...lots of cryptic quips and events mentioned that just left me puzzled. Then there was a huge life change that got about 2 sentences!?
I also found all his marital info confusing and uninteresting.
Ray Campbell
May 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2014
Back in the late 80s I spent several New Year's Eves in New York City with some old friends. It was almost a tradition. We would usually have dinner in the Village, wonder around lower Manhattan threatening to head toward Time Square, end up having dozens of hilarious adventures as we drank our way up town before taking the 2, 3 or 4:00AM train back to Connecticut. While these nights were always joyful and remain somewhat fuzzy in my mind, one stood out. We had stumbled around Washington Square ...more
Amanda Hamilton
Jun 06, 2013 rated it liked it
I actually don't care too much about reading musician autobiographies. (besides the Beatles, even still) You won't catch me reading any autobiographies of the guys of Motley Crue or Poison because I would find it boring.

My guy friend let me borrow this book (with a signed dedication in the front) because he had gotten me into a lot of Frank Zappa related things, beginning with what would end up being my favorite book, "I'm With the Band" by Pamela Des Barres. (though I don't know if I'd be up fo
Nov 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-books
3 stars, which again, may look harsh, but in Goodreads terms means "liked it", which I did. I picked this up after listening to "A History of Flo & Eddie & The Turtles", long out of print but well remembered in certain corners of the internet, such as Willard's Wormholes (, and being intrigued by the work of theirs I haven't heard, especially the segments from their radio shows. I'm not sure this will have much interest to people who aren't alread ...more
Daniel R.
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
What a crazy life Howard Kaylan has had. Starting in the early 60s through the present playing in garage bands, then The Turtles, Frank Zappa, Flo and Eddie all while being surrounded by some of the most legendary and iconic musicians of all time. Kaylan's tales rival any tale of Led Zeppelin's debauchery or worse. But it's not all Sex, Drugs and Rock n' Roll, Howard Kaylan readily admits when he has made mistakes and how he learned from them along the way.This is not yet another overly romantic ...more
Tom Schulte
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read many rock biographies and this is one of the best. It has inside scoops without mere name dropping. it is all the second and drugs without being merely salacious. Kalan's (and Volman's) camaraderie and partying with rock royalty was parlayed into longevity and pioneering roles. Still "Happy Together" over the years, I learned the group was the first to sue over sampling and also very innovative as radio talent augmented by their famous friends as guests. now I need to hear some of that! K ...more
Apr 24, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: music
Everything you expect from Howard Kaylan and more. The man has lived several lives at both the forefront and on the periphery of the music industry filled with countless escapades, overpasses and interchanges (somewhere between Bowie and Strawberry Shortcake records). I didn't know that the Turtles became kind of a Chicago-based band (with their fellow merry pranksters Spanky and Our Gang) as they were Pop 40 huge on the Midwest touring circuit in '67 and '68. I also enjoyed reading more details ...more
Kevin A.
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
There are two things that make this book much more enjoyable than most other classic rock bios that are currently flooding the market. First, Kaylan is a very funny storyteller. Considering how important humor was to his work with the Turtles, the Mothers of Invention, and Flo & Eddie, this isn't a huge surprise. (For the record, he was the Phlorescent Leech aka Flo until Warners flipped the negative on their first album cover, making him Eddie thereafter. Now you know.)

Second, he has kept a
Nov 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because I went to high school with these guys (well, the original Turtles guys). So of course I enjoyed the early chapters of the book most because it talked of people and places I experienced first hand, esp. Mr. Wood, the music teacher at Westchester High School. The book is an amazing chronicle of the 1960's, 1970's and into the 1980's when music played such a big part of the social scene. Toward the end, it seemed to become more and more of the same, Howard name dropping all ...more
Jun 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Enjoyable, breezy memoir by the former lead singer of the Turtles, who wound up with Frank Zappa as part of the duo Flo and Eddie. As a native of LA, Kaylan's Turtles and their first big hit when he was about 19, and that sent him into rock history, as maybe a minor player with some big hits. A bunch of the fun is his incessant name dropping -- and what names they are. The bit set piece is the evening the Turtles meet Graham Nash, Eric Clapton, The Beatles, Brian Jones, and at the close of which ...more
Barry Hammond
Sep 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Howard Kaylan was, along with Mark Volman, one of the lead voices in The Turtles. Later, they were both in one of the most commercially toured of Frank Zappa's bands, appearing in the film 200 Motels, and solo as Flo & Eddie. He was also a radio DJ and TV personality and backing vocalist with acts as diverse as Marc Bolan and T-Rex, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Alice Cooper, and many others. He partied with everyone from Keith Moon and Harry Nilsson to Bob Marley and lived to tell the tal ...more
Mar 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Howard Kaylan, lead singer for the 60's iconic band, the Turtles, tells his up and down ride in the world of rock & roll. And what a story it is - sex, drugs, and rock & roll, baby! Drugs were a way of life and so many girls in so many places but it was all about the music. Rock stars abound as Kaylan connects with them all. It feels like a back stage pass to this rock star's life. If rock and all of its surrounding show biz is your thing, this is a book for you. At times the story feels ...more
Bob Edgar
Nov 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: music
Interesting because I loved The Turtles and the edition of The Mothers he was in, it, like his recent music, is somewhat disappointing. A fairly typical tale of music-loving boys who eventually become jaded due to music industry shenanigans and realizations about themselves, Kaylan's prose is straight-forward, but lacking memorable turns of phrase. The two best anecdotes involve meeting Jimi Hendrix and the event that inspired Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water." Kaylan manages to be self-depreca ...more
Steven Pofcher
Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Lotta debauchery for a Turtle. A fat jewish kid makes good. Lotsa sex and drugs and rock and roll. If I had known about this, I woulda kept up with my guitar lessons.
This is a story about a man who did not grow up and mature until he was an old man. He was famous when he was quite young and got a lot of breaks handed to him.
Hopefully he is happy together (get it?) with his 5th wife. Yup 5 wives.
Jeff Tamarkin did a great job of writing the book.

A little difficult to keep up with the cast of chara
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