On Facebook there has been a special trend called “Throwback Thursday” where people post online things from their past like old photos, stories, etc. I’ve seen “Throwback Thursday” spread beyond Facebook where people issue Twitter tweets and devote blog posts to something from the past.

I decided to give Throwback Thursday a try in this blog. However, I don’t have plans to make it a weekly feature because, unlike Benjamin Franklin Friday, writing about something from my past would be way more time-consuming than just copying short words of wisdom from Poor Richard’s Almanac.

Basically if I have time to write something about my past for Throwback Thursday, I’ll do so but if I don’t, then there won’t be a Throwback Thursday in this blog for that week.

So, for this inaugural Throwback Thursday entry, I’m going to devote it to a set of dolls I once owned as a child. I felt inspired to write about these dolls after I decided to do a Google search for the hell of it. The dolls I owned were a series of 7-inch dolls called The Rock Flowers and I found this pretty interesting history about them.

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Photo by sixtieschild108.

It turned out that The Rock Flowers were originally a real-life all-female band who released their first album in 1971. (I even found something that looks like an original promo for the band.) Around the same time the toy company Mattel decided to release a line of dolls based on the band. Even though the dolls were a big hit, The Rock Flowers band disbanded after releasing their follow-up album in 1972. Despite the band’s short-lived recording career, a couple of their songs live on thanks to YouTube. Here’s “You Shouldn’t Have Set My Soul on Fire.”

And here’s “It Was Always You.”

If you like those two songs, the good news is that The Rock Flowers’ first album, which has both of those songs, can be purchased on iTunes for the low price of $5.99.

As for the dolls themselves, they lasted until 1974 (just two years longer than the band that they were originally based on). I remember owning them as a child. The dolls were 7-inches tall and wore the fashionably groovy clothes of the early 1970’s. They even had floral names like Heather, Rosemary, and Lilac. (Ironically, the members of the real-life band had names that were definitely less flowery: Rindy Dunn, Ardie Tillman, and Debra Clinger.) The original doll trio were later joined by Iris and the group’s only male member who had the un-floral name of Doug.

Each doll came with a plastic record that could be played on a turntable at 45 r.p.m. The record was double-sided so each record had a different song on each side. The record had slots towards the center where you placed a tiny doll stand. The original instructions were easy enough for a child to do without any parents around. Basically you put the doll stand on the record, placed the doll in the doll stand, pose the doll until you find a position that you feel is just right, then placed the record on the turntable and start the music. As you play the record, the doll rotates on top of the record as if she’s twirling around. This page on the Doll Diaries site has a still photo of what playing a record with a doll on top looked like.

The Rock Flowers also wore the coolest clothes of that era. If the clothes they came with weren’t enough for you, there were also other outfits sold separately so you could give your doll one groovy wardrobe.

I thought The Rock Flowers were the coolest things in the world and I spent plenty of time playing the plastic records while watching the dolls twirl around on top. As for the music itself, it was basically bubblegum music that was similar in style to The Partridge Family. (Actually that comparison is no surprise since the music was produced by Wes Farrell, who also produced The Partridge Family.) The music was innocuous and catchy at times but it’s not the kind of music that’ll ever end up in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It basically was designed to appeal to The Rock Flowers’ target audience (elementary school-aged girls) and, based on its popularity, it succeeded.

By the time I hit around 9 or 10, I began to lose interest in dolls and my mother eventually donated my Rock Flower dolls to Goodwill. Now as I look back on my childhood memories, there are times when I regret letting my mother give away the Rock Flower dolls and records because it would’ve been cool to look at them, although playing the records would’ve been another matter. (I haven’t owned a vinyl turntable in years and my music collection are either on CD’s or are computer .mp3 files.) However, thanks to YouTube, I was able to find two of the songs that were on the records that came with the dolls. The sound quality is scratchy but it shows what the music was like. The first video is for a tune that’s called “Sing My Song.”

And here’s the other song I found on YouTube, this one is called “Good Company.”

For those who are interested in collecting Rock Flower dolls, the good news is that not only are they easy to find but they can also be purchased relatively cheaply compared to—let’s say—the original 1959 Barbie doll. A quick search on eBay shows that while a Mint In Box doll with the original record starts at $55, the vast majority of the dolls without the original boxes or their records can be found for as low as $5.00. The plastic records are frequently sold separately starting at $5.00. Sometimes you might be lucky enough to find the original doll stand but chances are that you may have to either play the record without the doll twirling on top or improvise some homemade alternative that will keep the doll firmly on the record while it’s playing on the turntable.

I hope you like this Throwback Thursday. 🙂

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