Cover image for Jukeboxes : an American social history
Jukeboxes : an American social history
Segrave, Kerry, 1944-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, [2002]

Physical Description:
v, 375 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
The jukebox arrives : a Dictaphone gone bad, 1870-1907 -- The piano outplays the box, 1907-1933 -- Jukeboxes spread across America, 1934-1940 -- Boxes gets patriotic, and curb juvenile delinquency, 1941-1945 -- The nickel and dime war, 1946-1950 -- Jukes have one final fling, 1951-1959 -- Slow fade to obscurity, 1960-2000 -- Conclusion.
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
ML3790 .S384 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This work traces the history of the jukebox from its origins in the invention of the phonograph by Thomas Alva Edison in the 1880s up to its relative modern obscurity. The jukebox's first twenty years were essentially experimental because of the low technical quality and other limitations. It then practically disappeared for a quarter-century, beaten out by the player piano as the coin-operated music machine of choice. But then, new and improved, it reemerged and quickly spread in popularity across America, largely as a result of the repeal of Prohibition and the increased number of bars around the nation. Other socially important elements of the jukebox's development are also covered: it played patriotic tunes during wartime and, located in youth centers, entertained young people and kept them out of "trouble." The industry's one last fling due to a healthy export trade is also covered, and the book rounds out with the decline in the 1950s and the fadeout into obscurity. Richly illustrated.

Author Notes

Kerry Segrave is also the author of Age Discrimination by Employers (2001), Baldness: A Social History (1996), American Films Abroad (1997), American Television Abroad (1998), Tipping (1998), Movies at Home (1999), and Shoplifting: A Social History (2001); among other works exploring American culture. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Social historian Segrave (Shoplifting: A Social History) provides the first detailed investigation of jukeboxes from their inception to the present day. Starting with Thomas Edison's invention of the phonograph in 1878, he chronicles the development of the first primitive jukebox in 1889 and its quick eclipse by the player piano for nearly 25 years. He continues with the amazing resurgence of jukeboxes in the 1930s with the repeal of prohibition and the refinement of the sound quality of phonographs. The author describes the heyday of the jukebox culture from 1934 to 1948, when people danced to more than 350,000 jukeboxes in local grills, youth centers, and taverns, and deals with a stable jukebox industry in the 1950s, when companies such as Wurlitzer and Seeberg exported their music machines around the world. Segrave ends with the decline of jukeboxes by the 1960s, when fast-food chains replaced local diners, televisions appeared in bars, and people listened instead to long-play records and the more mobile transistor radio. Relying heavily on Billboard as a source, the author offers a fact-filled, very focused study that will appeal primarily to academics. Dave Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Also author of Shoplifting: A Social History (CH, Nov'01) and other studies of US culture, Segrave begins this history of jukeboxes with turn-of-the-century prototypes, including coin pianos, focusing on the growing popularity of jukeboxes during the 1930s. Through the 1940s jukes were ubiquitous in restaurants, bars, and other businesses, having become a vital part of public entertainment and the recorded music industry. Various factors, among them increasing competition from television, led to the gradual demise of jukeboxes after the 1950s, although the continuing export of the machines temporarily served as one outlet for the various manufacturers. The author's scope is rather limited, because of his heavy reliance on articles in the trade magazine Billboard. For example, he offers little discussion of the intersection of organized crime and jukeboxes or their influence on teen culture. Three appendixes and detailed notes are helpful, as are the numerous illustrations, although many lack clarity; the bibliography mostly rehashes the notes. This is an interesting beginning, but not the definite study of this fascinating topic. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. R. D. Cohen Indiana University Northwest

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 1
1 The Jukebox Arrives: A Dictaphone Gone Bad, 1870-1907p. 3
2 The Piano Outplays the Box, 1907-1933p. 20
3 Jukeboxes Spread Across America, 1934-1940p. 48
4 Boxes Gets Patriotic, and Curb Juvenile Delinquency, 1941-1945p. 128
5 The Nickel and Dime War, 1946-1950p. 166
6 Jukes Have One Final Fling, 1951-1959p. 225
7 Slow Fade to Obscurity, 1960-2000p. 274
8 Conclusionp. 302
Appendix A City Jukebox Taxes and Ratios of Jukes and Locations to Populationp. 307
Appendix B Jukebox Exportsp. 327
Appendix C Jukebox License/Fee/Tax by Statep. 335
Appendix D U.S. Exports of Coin-Operated Machinesp. 337
Notesp. 339
Bibliographyp. 355
Indexp. 369