Artists - The Turtles

Artist Biography

The Turtles made their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show on May 14th, 1967, the first of their two appearances on the show. The sextet, donning classic counterculture attire complete with a psychedelic backdrop,  played two of their most well known hits; “Happy Together” which got them a #1 spot on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and “She’d Rather Be With Me” (#3 spot). Known for their unique harmonic sound (most notably the dreamy vocal talents of Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman), the Los Angeles based group were considered the most wholesome of the California psychedelic wave. 

Originally the “Nightriders”, the British invasion-inspired group first emerged in 1963, releasing a few singles but with no success. By 1965 they had changed their name to “The Turtles” and established themselves as folk rockers, getting their big break with their cover of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe”. The group would go on to release five studio albums between 1965 and 1969, the most notable of course being “Happy Together”. The song would go on to be one of the most recognizable songs of the 60s’, securing The Turtles as one of the defining bands of their genre. 

In 1968, The Turtles were starting to lose steam as the folk craze started dwindling down and psychedelia was becoming more mainstream. After their single “The Story of Rock n Roll” flopped, they needed a quick comeback. This prompted their fourth studio album “The Turtles Present: The Battle of the Bands”, a concept album of which the band recorded 12 songs, each in a different style and mimicking different bands that were popular at the time. The album featured their next best selling single, “Elenore” which was meant to be a parody of the time’s classic pop love songs. 

By 1970, Howard and Mark started to have their differences with White Whale Records as the label was going under and wanted the group to go in a different direction creatively, which the two decided against. With that, The Turtles disbanded, only coming back together again in the 80’s as a nostalgia act. However, that wasn’t the end of it for Howard and Mark. After playing with Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention they went off on their own to form the comedy rock duo Flo & Eddie with much success. While the Turtles may have had a short run, they continue to be just as relevant now as they were during their peak and are still touring in the U.S today.

Check out our Turtles playlist to see full performances from The Ed Sullivan Show!