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Posts Tagged ‘50 Years’

Abbey Road - TankPrior to the rise of the Beatles, the biggest music acts were the Beach Boys and the Four Seasons.

By ’64, Elvis was fading in bad movies. Doo-wop was being retired, and the creativity limits were being tested on radio for something new.

Sure, President Kennedy had died. It’s an event in the minds of all baby boomers. But it wasn’t the older Freedom Riders who built the Beatles, it wasn’t college students or intellectual pipe smokers, it was the adolescents who saddled up to the new sound the way today’s kids jump onto Snapchat.

Nor was it a cultural turnaround based on a needed pick me up after the assassination, but instead a middle of the winter, unforeseen left field assault, that drove us all to the radio and the record store.

This was a new breed of rebel in 1964

This was a new breed of rebel in 1964

And similar to the Harley-Davidson riding experience of meeting people and the connections to their stories and backgrounds — what the Beatles did — was bring us together, our bond with their music connected us.

The Beatles.  50 years since the iconic Ed Sullivan show on February 9, 1964.

We’d been infected by “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”  Not because of media manipulation, but because the music had energy and they were cool.  Some people got it and some didn’t but in a matter of days, it was Beatlemania.

It was also a time when the roar of Harleys and the sight of long-haired bikers was still new and – for the average law-abiding citizen – unfathomable.  The day-to-day existence of these leather-clad rebels was as foreign as the Beatles arriving from the UK.  The bikers didn’t have jobs and despised most everything that Americans valued – stability and security.  They rode their bikes, hung out in bars for days on end and brawled with anyone who messed with them.

The Beatles changed music forever and the ‘romance’ of the open road was an illuminating time in 1964.  If you were there, you remember it.

Biker photo courtesy of Bill Ray.  H-D tank photo courtesy of Beatlesbike.com

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Honda_LALast week the 50th celebration of American Honda Motor Company went largely unnoticed.

It was fifty years ago in a small storefront in Los Angeles that the company opened its first U.S. based operation selling the step-through Honda 50 and developing the tag line “You meet the nicest people on a Honda.”  It would be 20 years later, but Honda started production of motorcycles in a U.S. based production facility (Marysville, Ohio) in 1979.  Today the company employs over 27K in the U.S. in the design of automobiles, motorcycles, ATV’s, water crafts and power equipment.  They operate ten U.S. manufacturing plants along with 14 R&D facilities.  June also marks fifty years of Honda racing activities.  The 1959 Isle of Man TT was the first entry of a Japanese team.

It’s ironic given that 2009 is an important and historic year for the motor company that it would find it an ideal time to enter the “chopper” segment while at the same time withdraw from the U.S. road racing activities, end motorcycle production at its Marysville plant, cancel the Honda Hoot motorcycle rally and cease production of the ATV’s and watercrafts at the South Carolina manufacturing plant for 3 months.

True times are difficult, but the companies network of U.S. parts suppliers comprises 545 companies in 34 states with annual purchases over $17.5 Billion last year.  The company sold 320K units in North America in the last fiscal year down 133K from the year prior.

Since the day I started trying to convince my mom motorcycles are good and later on being introduced to the CT-70 “Mini Trail” and the hours of riding… I’ve always had a certain level of fondness of Honda and owned my fair share of these high quality motorcycles.

Congrats on 50 years!

Photo courtesy Honda web site.

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hd_barbieFifty years is a long time!  Even longer in the toy business, but next week is a birthday party for everyone’s favorite Harley-Davidson doll, Barbie.  She’s “more mature” these days and reflects the motorcycle company female demographics, but she is certainly not looking her age! 

The motorcycle Barbie completes the rider image with an edgy black leather and orange flame ensemble accented with silvery chain, boots, helmet and sunglasses.  You go girl!!

As you know Barbie (aka; Barbara Millicent Roberts) is a fashion doll manufactured by Mattel, Inc. But, you might not know that it was launched in March 1959 by American businesswoman Ruth Handler (1916-2002) who is credited with the creation of the doll using a German doll called Bild Lilli as her inspiration.

The command centre for the Barbie business global assault is about 10 minutes from LAX where 2,000 of Mattel’s worldwide 35,000 employees work in El Segundo. Barbie represents a little over 20% of the $6B in total sales and more of its profits.  The 10th floor of the non-descript building is known as the “Barbie floor”, or by the workers as the ‘pink floor’.

Over the past fifty years Barbie has had numerous makeovers — Malibu, Princess, Southern Belle, along with the ever popular Harley-Davidson Barbie, to name just a few. She’s traveled the world by motorcycle and played guitar in a rock band. What can’t she do?  Sure she started life as a fashion model, but Barbie has so far tackled more than 100 careers ranging from air stewardess to paleontologist, aerobics instructor to Marine Corps sergeant. One of her latest gig’s is television chef and she’s probably at home right now working on another blog post with Ken!

We’re all in this recession together and America loves a winner.  So, if a boy can make it out of the slums of Mumbai and become an Oscar winner (“SlumDogs”) then maybe, just maybe, Barbie celebrating her 50th birthday and surviving previous recessions she will give us HOPE that we can make it out of this current mess. 

Photo credit is courtesy of Mattel.

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