Patent # 3, 387, 396
SOME PEOPLE LABOR ON IN OBSCURITY while others bask in the spotlight of eternal glory. And then there is the guy who mixed both into a legendary invisibility: Edward Walker – The Inventor of the Lava Lamp.
The Official History of Eddie and the Lava Lamp goes back to the mid-1960s. When else could it be, eh?
The other night we were out with some friends having a burger when, out of the blue, someone asked if anyone still had a Lava Lamp at home. What gave birth to that question I don’t know and I don’t want to know.
To end the suspense – none of our group fessed up to still having a Lava Lamp in their pad.
That question got my wife, the lovely and cool as a Ravi Shankar Sitar, Dawn, to thinking and the search was on.
Edward Walker was working in England (Not on Carnaby Street) as an accountant when he was loitering in a pub enjoying some quality time watching a homemade Egg Timer do its thing. That is the story he told and he stuck to it – but that was in 1963 and didn’t we all come up with some shaky excuses. Far out, Eddie!
Following up on his inspiration Eddie tinkered away with globs of wax in a bottle of liquid. Add some heat to melt the wax, it floats upward and – Cool, Dude.
In the beginning, Eddie “Wax Man” Walker, called his creation an “Astro Lamp.” It took a couple of sharp entrepreneurs to buy the American rights, change the name to “Lava Lamp,” and take it “Eight Miles High.” Eddie was no fool so he kept the worldwide rights to the Lamp and he made a bundle. Being a level headed Brit and a number crunching accountant Eddie enjoyed himself. With his money he bought Helicopters and Fire Engines. He lavishly entertained the entire cast of the 60s musical “Hair” and opened a Nudist Camp in Dorset.
We’re just glad that he didn’t waste his fortune on frivolous things.
Maybe it was just a coincidence, a timing thing, or maybe it was something more cosmic, but the Lava Lamp has entered history as a visible icon of the chemically fueled subculture of The Sixties along with Love Beads, Tie-Dye, and…and…I can’t remember the third thing, Dude. It’ll come to me. Let’s just kick back and look at the Lamp for a while. Pass the potato chips.
These days the Lava Lamp is mainly made at factories in China, but some still come from the original plant in England. Eddie would be so proud.
Eddie passed away in 2000 and went to that Big Ashram in the Sky. It wasn’t until several years after he assumed room temperature that the Lava Lamp claimed its first victim.
In 2004 a young man in Washington State tried to liven up his kitchen by putting his Lava Lamp onto his stovetop.
I don’t know what else this guy had cooking, but when the Lava Lamp exploded – Well, you can imagine. He never made it out of the kitchen.
Edward Walker, a simple British accountant, spawned a worldwide phenomenon that has fascinated millions of people and become the icon of an era.
In all of my extensive five minutes of research into this I found only one quote attributed to Mr. Edward Walker.
“If you buy my lamp you won’t need drugs.”
Right on, Dude.