Wednesday, June 21, 2023

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Happy Birthday Eddie! (Or Were You Flo?)


Mark Volman & Howard Kaylan

Tomorrow, June 22, 2023, will be the 76th birthday of Howard Kaylan, though everyone knew him as Eddie.

Kaylan, a native New Yorker, first rose to fame in the mid sixties band The Turtles. First touted as a 'folk-rock group (their first hit was a Bob Dylan song), The Turtles today are best known for their schlock-rock juggernaut "Happy Together."

A book I haven't read
So it was surprising to me -- and I assume millions of Frank Zappa fans across God's gray Earth -- when Kaylan and fellow Turtles singer Mark Volman turned up in 1970 as the new frontmen for The Mothers of Invention.

And in their new band Kaylan & Volman were christened "The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie," later shortened to "Flo & Eddie." According to Wikipedia -- and I cringe when I write those words -- Kaylan originally was The Phlorescent Leech. 

But he and Volman "were appalled to learn that the printer had mistakenly printed the duo's stage names in the wrong order above their photograph. ... The label refused to reprint the cover, saying that it would cost too much money. Thus, Kaylan and Volman decided to professionally swap stage names." 

(Wikipedia attributes this anecdote to Kaylan's 2013 autobiography Shell Shocked. I haven't read it, so I can't verify it. It might be true but it's always good to be skeptical of Wikipedia as a sole source.)

Besides their solo work and their efforts with Zappa and The Turtles, Kaylan and Volman also contributed background vocals to an impressive array of musical acts, a few examples being T. Rex (on "Get it On"); Bruce Springsteen "Hungry Heart"); and a couple of songs on The Ramones' Mondo Bizarro.

But let's look at some tunes where Flo and Eddie -- whichever is which -- are out front:

Here's a tune, from Zappa's 200 Motels, that I believe is one of the best non-comedy tracks from Zappa's Flo-and-Eddie period.

"I'm coming over shortly because I am a portly...":


Here are Flo & Eddie riffing on an old classic. Ethel Merman would be proud:

Finally, here are the boys singing a Beach Boys song with one of their idols they mentioned in the above version of The Mothers'  groupie routine:

No, not THAT Flo!

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