Last year, I raided an old Jukebox Distributor here in Houston that operated from the sixties until the demise of the vinyl jukebox in the late eighties. When CDs promised to offer ten times the amount of music in the same physical space as a vinyl 45rpm jukebox, well the format war was waged and vinyl lost faster than you can change sides of a record.
What’s a jukebox Distributor you ask? Generally, when bars have jukeboxes, pinball machines or video games like Ms Pac-man, they are owned, operated and repaired by a third party. A company that supplies your local watering hole with the entertaining gizmos so to speak and repairs broken flippers.
One of the most important facets of the jukebox distributor was to provide their groove-boxes with all the new tunes that were currently burning up the radio waves that they could get. Remember, in 1976, there were no ipods or satellite radio for bartenders to inundate you with their poor tastes in music. In this era, the jukebox was the heartbeat of your bar and keeping it well-stocked with the latest and greatest singles was imperative to its survival.
Naturally, requests from bar owners to add certain singles was common as was the bartender asking for his own release to be thrown into the mix. All of this added up to jukebox distributors being loaded to the gills with an array of music and me with some serious motivation to raid their tombs.
Besides decrepit boxes of records, more mold and general health hazards than a respirator generally can protect you from, I was fortunate enough to find some other random bits of ephemera. Like this hand-written want list for Eddie’s Snack Bar.
Former Duke Records star Ted Taylor likely provided plenty of late night whiskey-fueled sing alongs at Eddie’s with his cover of “Steal Away.” The Ohio Players mid-seventies party jam was misspelled on the want list. “Who’d She Coo?” screams like the work week finally loosened its grasp on both you and your liver. The sounds of a smoke-filled bar with Friday’s paycheck in your pocket and nowhere to be besides Eddie’s Snack Bar until Monday morning rears its ugly head again.
Now if only I could track down exactly where Eddie’s Snack Bar was located.
Do you have an idea where? Please email me or leave a comment.