One Tulsan is keeping 'Juke Boxes' alive and playing music

Wednesday, August 4th 2004, 11:48 am
By: News On 6

Jukeboxes got their name from the "juke-joints" or dance halls that all seemed to have one of these coin operated music machines.

Tulsan Dorian Dolph's family has been in the jukebox business for almost 75 years. News on 6 reporter Rick Wells, shows us that's it's not just a record collection, its business.

Coin operated music machines has been the family business since his dad started it in 1929 and Dorian Dolph has accumulated lots of records. "I've got about a half a million 45's."

From the 50’s thru the late 80's juke boxes played 45's almost exclusively. He says they'd buy maybe 200 copies of a new record, as they rotated the songs off the machines they’d save 3 or 4. “We'd sell the rest to waitresses or clients in a bar for a quarter a piece." So that's how you accumulate 500,000 records.

There are racks and racks of these old records. "There not all in here, I have cases and cases of them in the warehouse." If you can remember the music, you probably have to wear reading glasses to read the labels.

Most machines now play CD's. 100 CD's come to about 1,400 songs.

The business is headed toward Internet hookups with downloadable music. Reminiscent, of something called the automatic hostess. Back in the 40's, kind of a jukebox alternative. There was a speaker box, on the wall, with a phone hookup to a music headquarters, with several turntables. You requested a song, the hostess would play it and you'd hear it in the bar over a phone line.

Most of us who fondly remember jukeboxes remember these pieces of history. You put in your money, pushed the button for the song, then watched and listened.

Dolph Distributing will rent out the old 45 machines for private parties and if you know what music you want on it, chances are good they have it in their library.