The Box that Rocks - Page 4

With its soaring sound and mesmerizing glow, nothing brings people together faster—even today—than a jukebox full of records
Wacky bandleader Spike Jones gets an earful of the eye-catching, bullet-shaped Wurlitzer 1100 (1948).
Wurlitzer 2404S, a beauty from 1960.

“The AMI is here to stay,” says Dennis Lynch of his 1961Continental. It was Lynch’s first jukebox, but he has since acquired two Seeburgs, which he’s restoring. “I was blown away by the design of it. It’s like so space age. It was built the same year as this house. I love that era of design, the ‘60s. Everything they had had such flair.”

Dennis, a photographer, and Cassendre, a Hollywood wardrobe stylist, met while shooting a commercial and felt a connection. “It was probably his sideburns and my fire-red Bettie Page bangs,” she says. Both love music and retro design.

They’d hoped the machine would come to them still stocked with Dino’s favorite records—but alas, a younger generation of Martins had already filled it with Foreigner and Olivia Newton John.

The couple has put in “lots of ‘50s and ‘60s records, country, western swing, Rat Pack standards, Stan Getz, West Coast cool,” Cassendre says.

“We’re proud to say that when our three-year-old hears a song, she says that someone is ‘playing a record,’” Cassendre says.

Vinny (named after vinyl) also occupies pride of place in the Arangos’ Walnut Creek Eichler home. Dave and Lori and their teenage son Kyle keep it stocked with songs from the 1950s and ‘60s, though a few from the ‘80s creep in.

It’s actually Dave’s second Seeburg, replacing one he had while in college. “I was the DJ for a lot of great college parties,” he says, but then he needed a car and, well, sold the Seeburg to buy a Datsun 240Z. “Cool,” he says.

“But I was so mad at myself for getting rid of the jukebox.”

“This jukebox,” he says of Vinny, “has been with me 23 years.”

It hasn’t always been easy—and Vinny hasn’t always been working. One guy hired to restore it absconded with its interior parts. Dave scrounged replacement parts from a Seeburg whose exterior had been ruined in a flood. He did the restoration himself, replacing the mirrors behind the record changer, the chrome tubes, and the plastic pilasters.

Then a cool thing happened. A guy at work, Dave says, just happened to have a Seeburg Wall-O-Matic. “These are the control units that sat at the tables in diners—and it was just the matching model for our jukebox. Brief negotiations and $100 later, Vinny has a baby brother in our home!”

Like many jukebox owners, the Arangos build gatherings around their machine, inviting people in to listen while enjoying barbecue. It’s the beauty of the jukebox, the story behind it, and the legends that add to the appeal.

“You have to think of them as a toy, as something to enjoy,” says Gerry Parson. “The sound isn’t as good as from a high-end stereo. It’s the novelty, and collecting the records.”

“People won’t come over to visit you just to hear your good stereo. But when people come over here, they head straight for the jukebox. It’s a really fun social toy—and an entertainment experience.”

 

Photos: David Toerge, Lynch Photographic (lynchphotographic.com), Gerry Parson, Micke Skogström, Adam G. Bell, Alain Bachellier, Rockheim, SpillBabySpill; and courtesy Mickey McGowan of the Unknown Museum

Four to Adore

1. Rock-Ola Tempo
With their boomerang or chevron grilles, immense ‘windshields’ that revealed the record-changing mechanism and made up much of the machine’s façade, chrome décor, and chrome side fins, the early ‘60s Tempo jukeboxes strongly resembled contemporary automobiles.