News Column

'60s bands The Turtles and 5th Dimension bring show to Shippensburg

May 22, 2014

By Andrew Carr, The Sentinel, Carlisle, Pa.

May 22--SHIPPENSBURG -- Two legendary acts from the 1960s will entertain an audience of young and old alike May 31 in Shippensburg.

The show, which includes The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie, and The 5th Dimension featuring Florence LaRue, will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 31, at the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center at Shippensburg University.

The two acts bring together the iconic sound of a generation, playing hits from their illustrious careers.

Mark Volman, aka Flo, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter for the Turtles, said the show is a testament to the long-lasting legacy of the groups' music.

Volman and Howard Kaylan, aka Eddie, are founding members of The Turtles, producing many hits throughout their career.

Volman said he and Kaylan decided early on that they wanted to pursue music, and they committed to be the best they could be.

"At a certain point, the fun is in it if you love what you do. If you don't love it, then it's not going to be satisfying," he said. "For Howard and I, it has been a challenging experience. There was obviously many times when we could have easily just walked away from it all because it's just a gruelling trip."

The band, which formed when the members were in high school, achieved breakthrough success with a Bob Dylan cover, "It Ain't Me Babe," which reached the Billboard Top Ten in the late summer of 1965. They went on to release "Happy Together," "She'd Rather Be With Me," "You Know What I Mean" and "She's My Girl."

Surviving several lineup changes, million-dollar lawsuits and the eventual breakup of the band, Volman said those changes defined their career. After a string of hits and international success, The Turtles folded in 1970.

Volman and Kaylan were prohibited from using the name "The Turtles" as well as their legal names on records. They became "The Phlorescent Leech and Eddie," later shortened to "Flo & Eddie."

The two joined Frank Zappa's band the Mothers of Invention and recorded several Flo & Eddie records together.

They continued recording and doing session work through the 1980s, lending their trademark harmonies to T-Rex, John Lennon, Roger McGuinn, Stephen Stills, Keith Moon, David Cassidy, Alice Cooper, Bruce Springsteen, Sammy Hagar, Duran Duran, The Ramones and others.

In 1983, Kaylan and Volman legally regained the use of the band name and toured as the "Turtles... Featuring Flo and Eddie." In 1984, they travelled across the United States and Canada as "The Happy Together Tour," including several other acts. Volman and Kaylan continue this tradition, which attracts audiences throughout the summer months.

"Through all the different eras you grow in your experience," Volman said. "Howard and I are very fortunate that we are still friends. We have been together now since 1962. You are talking 52 years. How many people have a friend from high school that you are still working with everyday?"

He said the Shippensburg show will include several of The Turtles' hits, as well as their time with Frank Zappa and their Flo & Eddie solo records.

"Our show will kind of be a combination of our history, things we have been a part of during our long career. ... It is kind of a harmony of eras and stories explaining the changes that we went through musically a little bit," he said.

Volman said he is excited to be coming back to the Midstate, even after the band survived a plane crash in Altoona during the beginning of their career.

The 5th Dimension

Florence LaRue, lead singer for The 5th Dimension, also said she is glad to return to Pennsylvania, sharing the stage with Volman and Kaylan.

LaRue, who was born in Glenside, a suburb of Philadelphia, has been with the group nearly 50 years after "accidentally, but by the grace of God," falling into the role.

"I was the last to join and the last to leave," she said. "I had absolutely no intentions of singing."

LaRue said her family moved to California, where she attended college with the hope of breaking into the movie business. After winning several beauty contests, she was approached by a member of the group, who asked her to join.

"I said 'No, first of all, I'm not a singer. And, second of all, I am not interested in being with a group, I don't have time,'" she said, because she was attending college and working a full-time job at the time.

She eventually auditioned and became a member of the group, and has continued to sing for the last 49 years.

"Of course it has been an exciting 49 years," she said. "The original group was only together for 10 wonderful years. I continued with the group. People often ask me why I continued. There are many reasons why I continued. One was fear of singing a solo career. And really I was quite comfortable with the group, I enjoy the group harmony, and I enjoy the pure pleasure that The 5th Dimension brought to our fans."

With more than 20 million album sales, 22 Top 40 hits, five No. 1 hits and six Grammy Awards, the group has continued to entertain audiences worldwide with hits such as "Up, Up and Away," "Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In," "One Less Bell to Answer," "Wedding Bell Blues," "Stoned Soul Picnic," "Never My Love" and "(Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep."

LaRue echoed Volman in saying that audiences still attend the shows, which shows that fans still connect with the music, even after all these years.

"I believe the group has endured so long first of all because I have remained true to The 5th Dimension's music," she said. "The songs that were hits are performed just as they were recorded. Because we remain true to the sound. People don't want to hear an updated version or a rock version of "Aquarius," they want to hear it just as they remember it. The music is timeless. It's music that crosses the boundaries of all races and ages."

LaRue performs with Willie Williams, Leonard Tucker, Patrice Morris and Floyd Smith.

LaRue said she enjoys returning to Pennsylvania, or "coming home."

"I miss the East Coast, I miss the change in season, I miss the people," she said. "But I do not miss the snow in the winter, the humidity in the summer."

LaRue said fans can expect to hear hits from the band's long career, and hopes to lift the spirits of the audience, even in dark times.

"We know what's going on the in the world. I don't hide my head away from the tragedies and the sadness in the world, but we try to lift peoples' spirits during that time they are at the show, to give them hope, that there is joy, there can be peace and love in the world," she said.

Tickets are on sale and cost $35 to $49. They can be purchased online at, via phone at 477-7469 or in person at 1871 Old Main Drive.


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Source: Sentinel, The (Carlisle, PA)

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