Together”… ”She’d Rather Be with Me”… ”Elenore”… ”Kicks”… ”Good
Time”… ”Indian Reservation”… ”Just Like Me”… ”Hungry”… ”This Diamond
Ring”… ”Everybody’s a Clown”… ”Young Girl”… ”Lady Willpower…
”One”... “Mama Told Me (Not to Come)”... “Joy to the World.” These
are among the classic ‘60s hits fans can expect to hear on this
summer’s “Happy Together” Tour headed to a city near you. featuring
The Turtles, Mark Lindsay (of Paul Revere & the Raiders), Gary Lewis
(of the Playboys), Gary Puckett (of the Union Gap) and Chuck Negron
(of Three Dog Night).
We sat down
with Turtles co-ringleader, Mark Volman for a look back at his life
in the rock and roll circus as well as his new second career as a
You’re embarking on a “Happy Together” tour this summer, what can
We made a commitment when we began considering doing the “Happy
Together” tour and knew what we wanted to deliver to the fans. They
weren’t getting wasted minutes. The show was designed to perpetuate
the memories and the music of the ‘60s. We wanted to assure the
promoters and the fans coming out to the show that you’re only going
to hear our hit records. What we’re trying to do is give people the
most bang for their buck. We’re bringing an assurance that for one
night they’re going to get two and half hours of top ten records
with the best songs from Gary Puckett, Gary Lewis, Mark Lindsay of
Paul Revere & the Raiders and Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night plus
what we’re going them with The Turtles.
You've been musical partners with Howard Kaylan both in The
Crossfires, The Turtles and Flo & Eddie for 50 years. What's the
bond that makes the partnership work?
Our relationship has always been built on the fact that we wanted to
do something back when we were in high school. We weren’t really
sure what we were good at. As every year unfolded all of the
elements of our career have allowed us to experiment in a lot of
different forms. Our relationship is strong because we listen to
each other. And we have a very succinct philosophy about things when
it comes to delivering the different changes of our career. When we
wanted to go experimental we were able to go off and do our Flo &
Eddie music and make records that were not quite what people
expected. It’s just like us going off to work with Frank Zappa.
People just didn’t know what to expect. We came up with the first
“Happy Together” tour in 1984 and it was a very successful venture.
We went off the track by not doing those tours for 25 or so years
but have realized that we have a lot of firepower with the five
artists on the bill.
One of the really great things that Howard and I really like is when
we choose the artists we want to bring onboard. These are all people
we’re fans of. That makes it fun. We’ve known everyone on the bill
for many years; we did one of our first major national tours with
Paul Revere & the Raiders on a bus with Mark (Lindsay). We knew
Chuck (Negron) since Three Dog Night got together. We were managed
by the same management company. This is not just a bunch of guys
getting together. There’s a lot of camaraderie. We all have
relationships between each other that go back a long time and that
makes it really fun to be out on the road. Plus we get to play the
greatest theaters, eighteen hundred seats to seven thousand and up.
The mechanics of the show are really like Broadway. There are a lot
of visuals that go along with the acts, so people have something to
watch and relive their memories of growing up with these songs. We
also have a fantastic house band that plays the records exactly as
they sounded. There’s a lot of firepower in the musicians we’ve
brought out as the house band. I think this summer is going to be a
remarkable summer for everyone.
was your role in The Turtles at the beginning and how did that
change over time?
The Turtles were an extension of our high school band, The
Crossfires. The Crossfires was a certain type of band that grew
around some of our players that were more musical like Al (Nichol)
and Don Murray. We had great musicianship in that band. When I came
into the group I think I brought a sense of fun and humor and a
comedy element. I wasn’t really playing anything in the Crossfires.
But as The Turtles changed, I became more and more a part of the
sound. By 1965, I was getting a little bit stronger musically, in
terms of beginning to write material on guitar or piano. That kept
growing all the way through our Turtle Soup album. We were
all co-writing and adding our own embellishments to the mix.
Even beyond that, when Howard and I went to work with Zappa, we took
on a whole different role. Then as we moved into the Flo & Eddie era
I was pretty much writing 98% of the music. Howard and I would work
on the lyrics but Howard and I didn’t really play so I was relegated
to come up with the musical part of our Flo & Edie sound. Going back
to the first album, Howard and I always were co-writers but I was
always given the job of getting everything started. That’s because I
was writing more of the guitar/keyboard stuff. You take a song like
“Moving Targets.” I wrote that on guitar and then Howard and I would
want to sing about what moving targets we’d want to write about.
“Keep It Warm” was a song I wrote on piano. We liked what was coming
from the music and then we had to figure out where we wanted to go
philosophically with the lyrics. Howard’s a great lyricist.
Howard recently told me that one of the band’s biggest records,
"She’d Rather Be with Me," was a track lacking a real sense of magic
yet it became one of your biggest hits in both America and England.
Whether it’s magic or not, it’s a great radio record. It’s a kind of
interesting record in that it doesn’t have the dynamics like some of
the other records we made. Like “Happy Together,” which has the
obvious dynamics with the soft verses and the sing-along choruses.
“She’d Rather Be With Me” starts out at 110% and it just goes and
never really plays off any dynamics at all. Simply put, it’s just a
ball-out record and a lot of that is because of our drummer Johnny (Barbata).
That record is probably one of the most drum driven ‘60s hits I’ve
I haven’t heard Turtles music in a long time but when I do it always
amazes me a record like “You Know What I Mean,” which is probably
one of the most incredible records we’ve made, was probably the
least well known. When you get right down to it, it’s probably one
of the most sensitive and beautiful pop songs we’ve ever made.
“She’s My Girl” is also a picture perfect Turtles record.
Yeah, that’s a good one. Another song of ours that gets overlooked
all of the time is “The Story of Rock & Roll”, which was written by
Harry Nilsson. The Turtles version of that song is one of the most
spectacularly produced records. This coming form the same band who
recorded “Eleanor.” Sadly, “The Story of Rock & Roll” is often
overlooked. Also, a song from our Happy Together album, one
of the most incredible Turtle records is a song called “Me About
You” written by (Gary) Bonner and (Alan) Gordon who also wrote
“Happy Together,” “She’d Rather Be with Me” and “She’s My Girl.”
The unfortunate thing is we made a lot of good records but you had
no control over what disc jockeys played. A disc jockey jumps on
“Happy Together” and it gets played over and over and has held up so
well that it became the record of our career. Musically I think
“She’s My Girl,” “You Know What I Mean,” “Me About You,” “The Story
of Rock & Roll” and a few others are even better records. But every
group hopes to have a “Happy Together” (laughs) and that
makes us very fortunate.
with you and Howard, guitarist Al Nichol was a founding member who
lasted through all line up changes. What did he contribute to the
Al was a really enormous presence in the beginning of the band. As
things went on and the group became more of a group democracy, Al
began to see his role deteriorating a little bit. He wasn’t keeping
up with everybody else in terms of where we were going with things.
Al was an excellent musician. I think Al had some personal issues
that overwhelmed things. We all had elements that came into each of
our lives that played a part in the ultimate demise of the group.
Sometimes people forget that the lawsuit we were in with (Turtles
label) White Whale. Howard and I had gone off to work with Frank
When we came back, we went to each member of The Turtles, Al, Jim
Pons, Johnny. We gave them the opportunity to really be a part of
the future to whatever The Turtles was going to metamorphose into.
There was the possibility of putting The Turtles back together. It
was a few years later, since we’d broken up and everybody had sort
of gone off and done other things. Pons hung in through with us and
did The Mothers of Invention and some of the Flo & Eddie records
with us. That first Flo & Eddie album had a lot of Turtle music on
it with “Strange Girl” and “Who But I.” There was a lot of music on
there that could have easily translated as Turtles records. At that
point, everybody else in The Turtles had become kind of disenchanted
with music as a business. I think that probably played an enormous
role in their disinterest in wanting to go backwards at that time.
Al was probably thinking what he was doing was more important that
going back in time.
Tell us the back story behind Flo & Eddie’s 1976 album, Moving
Targets which stands as the duo’s most accomplished work.
is probably the most poignant of our albums when it comes to anybody
looking for what drove us to stop making records. I think Moving
Targets is a real eye opener; it’s very autobiographical in
terms of the dissolvement of the art forms for us. The songs “Mama,
Open Up” and “Moving Targets” in particular. Same can be said for
the whole album, which was very autobiographical. It was kind of
saying “at this point we’re going to go on hiatus.” It was really
candid., (recites lyrics from “Mama, Open Up)” …”it started out so
simple and got so far out of hand..” The whole lyric choice of
(recites lyrics)... ”Making show business out of what was fun”
really opens up what was really coming down on us; the concept of
going back to the womb, the idea of getting back to the beginning
was something we really felt comfortable with.
I think we were really getting into some really good stuff. When I
wrote “The Love You Gave Away” I was messing around and listening to
a lot of Brian Wilson. I was really kind of fascinated with a
certain of simplicity. The same goes for “Keep It Warm.” That inert
simplicity comes down to I was not that great a player or overly
schooled at writing, but I knew what I liked. And knew how to use
the tools I did have. Howard was really good about feeding that.
Howard and I sang the vocals on that song in unison. We were doing a
lot of vocals in unison. It’s got a nice horn arrangement; Ray
Pohlman did that. It kind of showcases the music we always liked,
that combination of Chicago and Beach Boys.
The intro lick to “Hot” reminds me of “And Your Bird Can Sing” by
The song I thought of when I originally kicked that song off and
went to Howard was “Layla.” When you listen to the ending, we tagged
it with Donnie Dacus and Jeff Baxter both on slide guitars. I wanted
it to have this “Layla” kind of ending with the freedom of these two
guitars tearing out on their own.
Were you playing most of the rhythm guitar on the
Moving Targets album?
All of it. I did all the rhythm guitars; I played on all the Flo &
Eddie albums. On our first album, there were four songs Howard had
pretty much done and the rest were mine.
When you're not touring with The Turtles, you have a day job as a
When Howard and I decided at a certain point that we were going to
manage ourselves, I took on the role of manager and used Howard to
bounce off any ideas. I don’t make any decisions without the two of
us talking about it. When I decided to get into the management side
of things I also made a choice somewhere along the way in the mid
1990’s to go to college. I hadn’t the opportunity to go to college
and felt that I now had the time to see if college and I would work
together. I ended up going to community college and it worked out
really well. I went on all the way through to earning my Master’s
degree. I graduated to the opportunity of the university I was at,
who asked me to put together a course of study wrapped around the
business of music.
I went out and
did some research and I found there were universities who were
already kind of moving in that direction. So I took the job at
Loyola Marymount University creating a music business course for
students in the music and recording arts department. I taught at
Loyola for about seven years and during that time I developed my
music business course, my music history courses, my management
courses, copyright and music publishing courses. When I moved to
Nashville in 2003 one of the fellows who I’d used as a mentor at the
university level offered me a chance to come up and do some filling
in for him at Belmont University where he taught. I hadn’t really
come to Nashville to teach, but I ended up taking the job and had
been an adjunct professor for a couple of semesters and then they
offered me a full-time position. I’ve been full-time at Belmont
I really enjoy
it. I teach four classes a semester. I teach courses in music
business. I also teach courses in the entertainment industry wrapped
around film and music supervision. I teach courses that connect
students to screenwriting and writing for television. I love
teaching. Teaching has become more full-time for me than touring.
Fortunately I can balance most of it. I’ve been teaching since 1997
so I’m about 15 years in as a full time professor. I’m the chair of
the entertainment industry studies programs at Belmont and I’m an
assistant professor so all of this keeps me really busy.
summer’s “Happy Together” tour, ten students from Belmont University
will travel with us working the show. We did it last year and we’re
going to do it this year. They’ll be working 17 concerts over 23
days. They have their own tour bus and my assistant rides on the bus
with the students. Every day they get a different job, lights,
merchandise, working the tour manager, working with the stage
manager. They have to write about it and do a class every day with
me. The students really love it. I have great people at the
university that allow me to come to the table with good ideas like
that. It’s a unique way for students to learn being under fire like
Together” 2013 tour dates:
Saturday, June 8 - Hard Rock Hotel & Casino - Biloxi, Mississippi
Sunday, June 9 - Peabody Auditorium - Daytona Beach, Florida
Tuesday, June 11 - Stafford Centre - Stafford, Texas
Wednesday, June 12 - Wagner-Noel Performing Arts Center - Midland,
Thursday, June 13 - Long Center for the Performing Arts-Dell -
Friday, June 14 - Ruth Eckerd Hall - Clearwater, Florida
Saturday, June 15 - The Pavilion at Seminole Casino - Coconut Creek,
Sunday, June 16 - Tennessee Performing Arts Center / Polk Theater -
Tuesday, June 18 - Lebanon Opera House - Lebanon, New Hampshire
Wednesday, June 19 - Keswick Theater - Glenside, Pennsylvania
Thursday, June 20 - State Theatre - New Brunswick, New Jersey
Friday, June 21 - NYCB Theatre at Westbury - Westbury, New York
Saturday, June 22 - Tarrytown Music Hall - Tarrytown, New York
Sunday, June 23 - Wolf Trap Filene Center - Vienna, Virginia
Wednesday, June 26 - Cain Park - Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Thursday, June 27 - Penn's Peak - Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania
Friday, June 28 - Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom - Hampton Beach, New
Saturday, June 29 - North Shore Music Theatre - Beverly,
Sunday, June 30 - American Music Theatre - Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Thursday, July 4 - Del Mar Fairgrounds / Grandstand - Del Mar,
Friday July 5, Saban Theater, Beverly Hills, California
Monday, July 8 - Ed Kenley Centennial Amphitheater - Layton, Utah
Tuesday, July 9 - Sandy City Amphitheater - Sandy, Utah
Wednesday, July 10 - Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino - Lemoore,
Thursday, July 11 - Chumash Casino - Santa Ynez, California
Friday, July 12 - Fox Tucson Theatre - Tucson, Arizona
Saturday, July 13 - Talking Stick Resort - Scottsdale, Arizona
Saturday, July 27 - Count Basie Theatre - Red Bank, New Jersey
Tuesday, July 30 - Bergen Performing Arts Center - Englewood, New
Wednesday, July 31 - Mayo Performing Arts Center - Morristown, New
Friday, August 2 - Casino Rama Entertainment Centre - Rama, Ontario,
Saturday, August 3 - The Colosseum at Caesar's Windsor - Windsor,
Sunday, August 4 - Wisconsin State Fair / Main Stage - West Allis,
Tuesday, August 6 - Indiana State Fair / Marsh Free Stage -
Wednesday, August 7 - Fraze Pavilion for the Performing Arts -
Thursday, August 8 - Centennial Terrace - Sylvania, Ohio
Friday, August 9 - Iowa State Fair / Grandstand - Des Moines, Iowa
Saturday, August 10 - Ho-Chuck Gaming / Black River Falls - Black
River Falls, Wisconsin
Sunday, August 11 - Peoria Civic Center Theater - Peoria, Illinois
Wednesday, August 21 - Effingham Performance Center - Effingham,
Thursday, August 22 - Kentucky State Fair / Fairgrounds -
Friday, August 23 - Paramount Arts Centre - Aurora, Illinois
Sunday, August 25 - Corn Palace Festival - Mitchell, South Dakota
Monday, August 26 - Minnesota State Fair - St. Paul, Minnesota
Tuesday, August 27 - Sanford Center - Bemidji, Minnesota
Wednesday, August 28 - McPhillips Station Casino - Winnipeg,
Friday, August 30 - Little River Casino Resort - Manistee, Michigan
Sunday, September 1 - New York State Fair / Chevy Court - Syracuse,
Saturday, October 5 - All Seasons Arena - Minot, North Dakota
CHECK OUT A
CLASSIC PERFORMANCE OF THE TURTLES' "HAPPY TOGETHER!"