Remember When Michigan Had Jukeboxes in Restaurants?
The Fonz whacks a jukebox with his fist and it magically begins playing a Rock 'n Roll record. For decades teens would put in some loose change and a jukebox would magically play whatever song they choose.
The jukebox has been around ever since 1889, when 44-year-old Louis Glass created the very first one in San Francisco. His creation was “a coin-operated Edison Class M electric phonograph fitted inside a beautiful oak cabinet” and set up in a neighborhood saloon on the corner of Sutter Street and Grant Avenue. After he set it up, he inserted a nickel and music began being siphoned out of “four stethoscope-like listening tubes snaking out” that you put into your ear to listen. As he operated the machine to the stares and delight of the beer-soaked patrons of this dingy little bar, he hadn't a clue of the impact he would have on the American public for the next 100 years. The Palais Royale Saloon was the name of this place that had the world's very first jukebox but the establishment was shut down within a year.
As jukebox designs changed, it was really something to watch those mechanical hands come out, grab a 45 rpm record, and place it on a revolving disc, where a needle would either drop down or come out from the side and play the tune.
Over the years the jukebox's popularity soared with each decade, reaching its ultimate zenith in the 1950s. There were jukeboxes in practically every soda shop, restaurant, and any place teenagers hung out. With ever-changing technology, jukeboxes were still popular in the 60s, but when the digital world boomed, jukeboxes lost their appeal...except to collectors.
Michigan was no stranger to the jukebox...uh-uh, brother. I remember going into Big Boy restaurants where a jukebox would be right there on your table, to play your favorite tunes while you ate. Sure, other places had them, too, like coffee and sandwich shops...but their presence in local bars was where they really shined, especially if there was no band playing that night.
Have you seen any jukeboxes in any Michigan establishments lately? Take a look at the gallery below for some old photos of past Michigan joints where the jukebox was king.
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