...where it all began, 70 years ago     

The word Jook is an old Afro-American term, meaning to dance - often with bawdy connotations. It has also been suggested that the name originates from jute crop workers who frequented makeshift bars which were called juke (or Jute) joints, where early Jukeboxes first appeared. Whatever the origin, the juke joint was a spot for dancing, and the jukebox provided the music.

By 1927, The Automatic Music Instrument Company had created the world's first electrically amplified multi-selection phonograph. Suddenly the jukebox could compete with an orchestra for the cost of a nickel. Prohibition assured the jukebox's success, as every speakeasy needed music, but could not afford a live band. Jukeboxes were provided by operators at no charge to the establishment.

The importance of the jukebox to Bluesmen, White Country and Rockabilly artists cannot be underestimated. Much of early radio featured live concerts staged at fashionable hotels, where "respectable" music; light Classical, Swing, Jazz orchestras, or show tunes were played. The lower class Blues, "Race music" and Rockabilly, were not held in high esteem and the likes of Muddy Waters, Bessie Smith and Carl Perkins had to find another medium for their wild rebellious music.

From the late 1920's until the late 1950's, the jukebox was the only place a black musician could have his music heard on a large scale. In it's heyday, the jukebox provided the power to sell many hundreds of records. The jukebox was color-blind in a segregated world. Black patrons thought Carl Perkins and Steve Cropper were Negroes singing, while white patrons were exposed to, and readily accepted, black artists' work.

After the depression, jukebox sales rose dramatically, as leading manufacturers Wurlitzer, Seeburg, AMI and Rock-Ola devised spectacular creations of wood, metal, and phenolic resins, behind which danced extravagant lighting effects.

Incidentally, the Rock-Ola name had nothing to do with Rock n' Roll. Like Seeburg and Wurlitzer, it was the last name of the company's founder, David Rockola!

During World War II jukebox production was halted, after which Wurlitzer's 1946 model 1015 became the most popular machine of the golden age, with more than 56,000 units produced.

In the early 50's, Wurlitzer's market lead was lost to Seeburg, with its innovative new 45 rpm record playing mechanism. The flamboyance of the 40's machines gave way to more contemporary styling and greater use of chrome, often mirroring features found on the automobiles of the day. The jukebox was a central part of the rock and roll era and many classic and desirable models were produced. As well as the big USA manufacturers many companies started up in Europe during the 50's some built machines under agreements with the USA manufacturers like BAL AMI. Others started up independently like NSM.

The silver age continued into the early to mid 60's, but when the record changing mechanism finally became hidden from view, much of the jukebox's appeal and status was lost for ever...







     Email:     jukejoint59@aol.com
  Tel or Fax:   0114 255 7979

Unit 3 Abbeydale House, Barmouth Rd, Sheffield, S7 2DH

Hours of opening:
10.00 to 16.30 on Fridays and Saturdays
Also by appointment at any other time

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