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Sex & Drugs & De La Soul
on 10 April 2013
Howard relays his life story with great wit and aplomb. The tale about how he and Mark Volman avoided the draft, with cousin Herbie Cohen's help, is trouser-wettingly hilarious. He's honest and open about the drug use, his myriad infidelities and the bad business decisions that conspired to split the Turtles up - and the fact that turning down Becker and Fagen's offer to join their new band might have been an error! Who knew that Tom Jones named his penis Wendell? If you didn't already know who the The Fabulous Musician was that released a torrent of purple spew from an appealing blonde from the clues in Champagne Lecture and The Real Frank Zappa Book, Howard now reveals all. He's also explicit about Nigey Lennon's party piece, and he clarifies why Mark started out as Eddie then became Flo after the photo on the duo's first album got reversed (I was always a little confused as to why, in interviews, Howard said he was the Phlorescent Leech in the Mothers. Now I know).
After many years of lawsuits, Flo & Eddie won the right to use the Turtles' name and gained control over the band's recorded output. This enabled them to set the legal hounds on De La Soul when they used a sample from You Showed Me on Transmitting Live From Mars (Interlude) without permission (in what was very much a test case; many others therefore have the dynamic duo to thank for the credit that automatically ensues from such nefarious activity nowadays).
Penn Jillette's humourous foreword essentially articulates Zappa's view about high and low art all just being entertainment, and kicks things off in fine style. All in all, one of the best rock bios I've ever read. But on a point of order, there's no way you could have read Sounds on your first transatlantic flight, Howard: it didn't commence publication until 1970. Sorry!