A Seeburg Jukebox That Formally Belonged To John Lennon Now Lives At Sterling Sound
In honor of John Lennon’s birthday this week, we would like to share a little bit of his legacy preserved here at the studio.
Beyond their novelty at bars and retro diners, jukeboxes are now one of the more obsolete forms of personalized music listening. Eclipsed by the Walkman, the Discman, and finally the monolithic iPod, it’s almost hard to imagine a time when a couple nickels in exchange for a few songs was the most control one had over their sonic sphere. What would you do in the 1960’s if you wanted your personal stash of 45’s playable at any time and in any place? You would make like John Lennon and get your own portable jukebox, of course.
John Lennon was a man of many fascinations, and jukeboxes were one of them. He was known for collecting the music players and occasionally would give them away to close friends or sentimental places. Knowledge of his affinity resurfaced in 1989 when a Swiss KB Discomatic he had purchased in 1965 and filled with 40 singles to listen to while touring appeared in a Christe’s Beatles’ memorabilia auction. The story of this particular jukebox became the subject of an excellent documentary, as well as a 2004 CD compilation entitled John Lennon’s Jukebox.
The famous Record Plant recording studio, where Lennon recorded Walls and Bridges and Mind Games among other records, was gifted one of his Seeburg jukeboxes in the early 1970’s. When the New York studio shut down in 1987, the machine was acquired by Jim Ball, one of the staff engineers, and put into storage. Years later, Greg Calbi, a senior mastering engineer at Sterling Sound and a previous Record Plant employee, was at a RP reunion and learned about the location of the jukebox. He arranged to have it brought to Sterling, where we have had it on load for the past five years. Unfortunately the amplifier module is broken, but there has been talk of refurbishing it.
Despite the its inability to play music, the jukebox’s original 45’s are still intact within the machine, and the titles are still legible. Check out the pictures below!