Originally created in 1978, the Cabbage Patch Kids and the mania that surrounded them didn't fully kick in until 1982 when the cute or spooky (depending on your perspective) looking, needle-molded fabric "Little People" (their original name) were made widely commercially available across North America. They consequently caused consumer mayhem like in the above video clip from 1983 when a riot at Zayre's department store in Wilkes-Barre, PA broke out in which shoppers had limbs broken and teeth knocked out-- all in an effort to get to these "adoptable" lil creatures. The above video (c/o of CBC's news archives) also briefly traces the history of the dolls that were created by Xavier Roberts and you can see from it how they earned the name "cabbage patch" at the "hospitals" they arrived from.
Cabbage Patch Kids became the biggest toy phenomenon of the eighties and anyone reading this most likely remembers them and the whole hysteria about them, either fondly or with disgust. Personally, I find the level of consumer mania that the manufacturer's marketing department created over these butt ugly items mind-boggling. But then, this is the USA -- home of consumerism, where people buy into the hype of fiending to be the first on the block to have something, be it Cabbage Patch Kids or Xbox or iPhone etc. etc. Of course, the fact that the Cabbage Patch Kids were marketed as being "adoptable" was a very shrewd move on the part of the manufacturers.
And remember the later fun but deliberately evil-looking spin-off of the Cabbage Patch Kids: the Garbage Pail Kids bubble gum cards? You might remember that they didn't last forever in their original design since the makers of the Cabbage Patch Kids sued them and as a result the Garbage Pail Kids had to be toned down and graphically altered so as not to resemble the "kids" anymore.
A couple of weeks ago Randy van Horne passed away at the age of 83. You might not recognize his name but you would certainly recognize the sound and work of the Randy Van Horne Singers, one of the most in-demand studio session vocal groups of the 1950s and ‘60s. They can be heard on countless television and radio commercials, jingles and station identification spots many of them written by Van Horne. But they’ll always be remembered for singing the themes to many of Hanna-Barbera’s iconic pop-cultural cartoons like The Jetsons, The Huckleberry Hound Show, Yogi Bear, and The Flintstones. Hey, it’s Yabba-dabba-doo time, kids!
The Randy Van Horne Singers also worked with some of the biggest names of the era including Mel Tormé, Dean Martin, Martin Denny, Jimmy Witherspoon and Juan Garcia Esquivel, who twisted jazz and lounge into a quirky genre we now call Space Age Pop. Serious fans of Esquivel will know his trademark "Zu-zu-zus," crooned by the Randy Van Horne Singers.
The group included some of the most famous session singers (yet almost completely unknown to the public!) of all time including Marni Nixon. She was singing voice for Natalie Wood in West Side Story, and sang for Deborah Kerr in The King and I. Thurl Ravenscroft - the voice of Tony the Tiger for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes commercials, and he sang You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch from the classic animated television special, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and B.J. Baker who worked with Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin and Sam Cooke, among others. She was also Miss Alabama in 1944.
I feel like everybody should know about Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Isn't it sad how unexpected it seems to see a woman playing a guitar in old black and white footage? It seems almost bizarre. Sister Rosetta Tharpe doesn't just play the guitar, she brings so much energy and passion to it-- it's joyful, or at least, it always perks me up to see her play and sing. She has a huge sense of spirit.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe was definitely a pioneer in the world of gospel and rock n roll too. I don't really think there's anyone else like her. She was popular in the 30s and 40s. She wasn't afraid to blend the sacred with the secular, which was kind of revolutionary at the time. Apparently she was quite shocking in her day, which makes sense because watching her even today she was so far ahead of the game and so fearless, it's shocking and also affirming to know she existed.
Watching a woman perform in gospel robes clutching and coaxing an electric guitar, the newly invented symbol of sin to so many at the time, it's refreshing! It's exciting! It's inspiring! She's a consummate performer and entertainer; she's killer. Check out a performance:
Now that's a solo!