MARK VOLMAN with John Cody: HAPPY FOREVER – MY MUSICAL ADVENTURES WITH THE TURTLES, FRANK ZAPPA, T. REX, FLO & EDDIE, AND MORE (Jawbone Press, ISBN: 978-1-911036-19-7)
As the book’s blurb says, this is not your average musical autobiography, as Mark’s comments throughout are minimal. Instead, his story is told by friends and family, including Howard Kaylan (of course), Ian Underwood, Aynsley Dunbar, Don Preston, Jim Pons, Jeff Simmons, George Duke and Gail Zappa (yes, it has taken co-author Cody around 12 years to assemble this tome).
In it, Pons reveals that he squired Gail before she met Frank, though GZ describes it as “just hanging out”. (One of the many fun things here is that the narrators are allowed to quibble and contradict one another, with even Volman chiming in to set his side of the story straight.)
Simmons and Dunbar both say they initially tried to talk Frank out of recruiting Kaylan and Volman as Mothers, but both later admit they were wrong. (Aynsley also confirms that he was asked about replacing Chad Wackerman in 1988.)
And Turtle drummer John Seiter, who fought for his writing credit on Eddie, Are You Kidding?, claims to have provided vocal overdubs on Happy Together for the Fillmore East – June 1971 album.
Happily, Mark has more than elsewhere in the book to say about his time with Frank, but that’s only a part of his story: we’re taken from schoolboy pranks to his becoming a Professor at Belmont University and a born again Christian, via the early days of Mark and Howard’s involvement in surf music with The Crossfires to their later fall-out with Marc Bolan after they dared to ask to be paid for providing back-up vocals on future T. Rex hits.
The book is a fun read and what stands out is that Mark loves to play the clown and is a much beloved entertainer. Long may that be so.
For more Flo fun, check out my old interview with him here plus this specially prepared Spotify playlist.