The Jukebox Project
Admit it. We are getting older. For as much as we made fun of our parents and their baby
boomer generation for collecting stuff from the 1950s and 60s, we are just as bad. Sure
we may attempt to legitimize it by selling a few items now and again, but in the end we
are all hoarders. Here we are at the end of first decade of the 21st century and all of
a sudden we're nostalgic for things that remind us of our youth. We love collecting
comic books, skate decks, sneakers, and yes worst of all records.
Many of us Beastie Boys fans grew up in the 80s and early 90s when there were still
jukeboxes in bars, restaurants, and bowling alleys. Depending on the establishment,
these were jukeboxes that played popular singles for twenty-five cents a song. Some of
these machines were compact disc players, whereas others played 7 inch 45 rpm records.
What? 45 RPM records, the kind like the Beastie Boys tucked into the "Check Your Head
Remastered Edition" "Yes, 45 RPM records.
Through the years, the Beastie Boys have put out numerous 45-RPM records. How many? So
many that it got me thinking that maybe I should look into picking up an inexpensive
used jukebox and loading it full of Beastie Boys and related rap/punk singles. After
all, LL Cool J, Biz Markie, Run DMC, Minor Threat, and many other 80s acts put out 7"
To go from concept to reality, space and money were the two biggest obstacles. The most
difficult of these to secure was space, so I will cover it first. Whether it is a pool
table you want or jukebox, space is always going to be a problem. Jukeboxes are heavy
monsters, which do not easily go up and down stairs. This fact makes it difficult for
apartment owners to possess a jukebox. Also, spouses are very territorial when it comes
to living spaces. It takes a special understanding in order for a spouse to "allow" you
to place a huge jukebox anywhere in the house. Now certain jukeboxes are smaller and
lighter than others, so keep that in mind when you see various models for sale.
Next lets talk about the money. To pull off a project like this it will cost at least
$400.00. Inexpensive working jukeboxes can be found in the United States for as little
as $250.00. I would encourage you to have someone "service" the machine prior to loading
it full of your records. This means that you will need a knowledgeable repairman to go
through the machine and make sure all of the fuses work and that the mechanical parts
are greased and ready for use. Most communities will have at least one person who
specializes in coin-op machine repair. So once you figure out who that person is, have
them check out your machine. Avoid the temptation to attempt repairs yourself.
If you have the desire to see the record play within the jukebox, you are not alone.
Most people would prefer to own a jukebox in which the turntable is visible. What does
this mean to you a potential buyer? Jukeboxes that have an open area where the selection
is picked up and dropped onto the turntable are very desirable/older and thus start out
at around $1000.00. My advice is to hold off on buying a more expensive machine until
you have owned an entry-level jukebox for at least a year. There will always be a buyer
for your first jukebox, so don't be worry about being "stuck" with it.
There are four main manufactures of jukeboxes: Seeburg, Wurlitzer, AMI-Rowe, and
Rockola. No one company stands apart as being that much more in demand than the other
three. Each company produced certain models that are more sought after than other models
which may preceed it by only a year and thus it is on a year by year (model by model)
basis where you see a big difference in price/value.
Initially, I started out with less expensive model from the 1974 Rockola model 454. This
machine required about $300.00 worth of repair before it was back up and running. There
were 7995 of these machines made and each model holds 80 7 inch records (160
selections). This machine is similar in appearance to many other jukeboxes from this
period. If you liked the Beastie Boys 1995 Quadraphonic Stereo Tour theme, perhaps
tracking down a 1974 Seeburg SQS160 would be the ideal first jukebox for you.
For those Beastie Boys fans that want to see the record selection spin, I would suggest
one of two popular machines, either the 1961 AMI Continental or the 1962 AMI Continental
2. The space-age look of these machines has driven up their value over the last decade
or so, but you can still find them for sale. One of these can be seen in the background
of the new Star Trek movie during the opening bar fight scene.