« June 21, 2013

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

Howard Kaylan comes out of his shell
Review by Scott Schinder

Shell Shocked: My Life With the Turtles, Flo & Eddie, and Frank Zappa, etc.

by Howard Kaylan with Jeff Tamarkin
Backbeat Books, 304 pp., $24.99

As lead singer of Sixties pop godheads the Turtles, half of Seventies rock satirists Flo & Eddie, member of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Inventions, and possessor of an eclectic résumé that's too massive to recount here, Howard Kaylan has enjoyed a wild, half-century ride that cries to be told in book form. Author of this brutally forthright account, he's the rare rock memoirist who's less motivated by self-aggrandizement and score-settling than by a relentless honesty and willingness to confront his own insecurities and flaws. The result is massively entertaining, frequently hilarious, and occasionally harrowing, vivid in its depictions of Kaylan's life and times, and unsparing in all manner of indulgences, infidelities, and dirty business dealings. Beyond the sex, drugs, and all-star supporting cast, it's Kaylan's unlikely saga of dogged persistence and showbiz survival that ultimately makes Shell Shocked a fascinating, and oddly inspiring, trip.