“Slinky was once just a little old everyday spring on a ship,” read a brochure describing the origins of the popular toy. Speaking about inventory Richard James, it continued, “One day Dick took it home to show his family. His little boy, Tommy, surprised everybody by making the spring walk down the stairs — all by itself! That gave Dick the idea to make this little old spring into a toy. His wife, Betty, named it Slinky!” What started as a chance discovery went on to become an international bestseller that has helped generations of children ponder the principles of gravity and tension.
Richard James, who began his career as a naval engineer, spent a few years perfecting his design before bringing it to market in 1945. It was Betty James, his wife, who brought Slinky its international success, marketing the cleverly named toy with a catchy jingle and playful television ads. When she died in 2008, The New York Times estimated that the number of Slinkys sold since the 1940s could circle the globe 150 times.
This Slinky was Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, The Value of Good Design, on View at The Museum of Modern Art Through June 15th, 2019.
Colin Blunstone, singer for The Zombies and solo artist was born on this day June 24th, in 1945. I’ve been very lucky to see Colin perform three times, once doing his solo stuff and twice with keyboard player Rod Argent as the reformed Zombies, doing all of that band’s greatest hits of the 60s as well as popular tunes from Rod’s 70s band, Argent. I can tell you that Colin’s voice is still as buttery smooth and seductive today as it was when he was a teenager. Happy Birthday, Colin!
Keyboard player and composer Rod Argent of The Zombies and Argent was born on this day, June 14th, in 1945. Read my review of The Zombies mind blowingly great 2011 performance at NYC’s City Winery at This Link. Happy Birthday, Rod!
Arthur Lee of seminal Sixties psychedelic rock band Love, was born on this day, March 7th, in 1945. Lee passed away from Luekemia on August 3, 2006. If you don’t own a copy of Love’s 1967 album Forever Changes, then you are seriously missing out.
Although Freddie Mercury gets to steal a lot of the Birthday thunder for September 5th, today is also the birthday of the great Al Stewart, who was born on this day in 1945. The video above is from a 1976 performance on the British TV show, The Old Grey Whistle Test, by Stewart and his band of the title cut from the album Year of The Cat, a phenomenal song from one of the best albums of the seventies. Enjoy, and Happy Birthday, Al!
Roxy Music vocalist Bryan Ferry was born on this day, September 26th, in 1945. Gee whiz, what a great band (Favorite Roxy Music Song: “Street Life”). Bryan also recorded an amazing CD of Bob Dylan covers a couple of years ago, Dylanesque which is highly recommended listening. Happy Birthday, Bryan!
Pete Townshend, guitarist for The Who and certainly one of the most awesome living Rock Stars ever in the universe of all time, was born on this day, May 19th, in 1945. I’m lucky enough (meaning that I am oldenough now) to have seen The Who live in their prime before the death of Keith Moon. This was way back in March of 1976, at the Anaheim Stadium in Orange County, California where I grew up. I think the ticket was $12. I’d say that show is probably in the top three or four concert experiences of my life, and I do remember it was VERY LOUD, despite being held at an outdoor sports stadium with a capacity of over 55,000 people. My ears still hurt. In fact, according to Who legend, that concert is the one at which Townshend claims to have lost a good percentage of his hearing. “Happy Birthday, Pete!”