Friday, April 22, 2022

How Dennis Got His Groovy Jukebox Back

My pal Dennis Hensley -- who you may know from his books, stage shows or podcast -- shared this sweet story about trying to get his old jukebox working again, so I immediately asked if I could share it with you. Have a look, and let me know if you're also dying over his collection of 45s including Carly Simon’s “Tired of Being Blonde," Swing Out Sister’s “Breakout," Lindsey Buckingham’s "Trouble" and Olivia Newton-John’s "Please Mister Please," which has to be programmed as B-17!!! Read HERE


This story begins in 1989, when I had just bought my condo. It has always been my dream to own a 1970's jukebox. I found one in the Recycler and bought it. My two roommates at the time, Scott and Alan, and I had a "3 Men and a Jukebox" party to break it in and everyone brought 45s and came as the artist on their record. I believe I was Danny Bonaduce because I didn't have the hair confidence to pull of David Cassidy. 

The jukebox played music for less than a year before breaking down. I couldn’t find anyone to fix it but I held on to it. It was in my garage for 20 years and then I brought it inside in 2013 because it was beautiful to look at, even if it didn’t play music. 

Cut to December 31st, 2021. My friends Glenn and Danny and I went downtown to check out The Last Bookstore. Visiting that store had been on my dreamboard and since this was the last day of the year, I thought I could make one easy dream come true just by getting in the car. 

We get there and the store’s a lot of fun, with cool photo-op spots and a huge selection of books, records and art from local artists. 

But what intrigued me most was their huge selection of 45s. As I rifled through the titles, I thought, ‘I gotta try and get my jukebox fixed.’ I have tried a few times over the years to find a repair place but I always struck out. 'Maybe it's time to try again,' I decided. 

So that afternoon, I got home and typed JUKEBOX REPAIR LOS ANGELES into Google. BAM! A website came up called Pin ‘N Juke. I filled out the contact form and hit send. The owner, Sam, got back to me right away and it just so happened he was going to be in my neighborhood a few days later and could come take a look. 

So Sam shows up and it turns out, he owns the exact same model of jukebox as I have! It's a Seeburg "Bandshell" model from 1970! 

This is the model he has in his home. What are the chances? Sam starts tinkering around, takes a few parts home to work on and when he returns a few weeks later, miracle of miracles, he’s able to get the thing playing again! 

Sure, it doesn’t always play the selection you select…and the volume level is a little hit and miss, too. But it plays! I never thought it would but now it does and I love it! And let me tell you, dancing around the house to Andy Gibb and The Partridge Family is quite the mood booster, so much better for your spirit than watching cable news and wallowing in existential dread. 

Since Sam got me fixed up, I've been buying 45's like a madman; on eBay, at Atomic Records in Burbank and at The Last Bookstore downtown where the odyssey began. I print the labels through a special website and yes, I do have a color-coding system. Gold = Disco, Blue = Teen Idols, Red = British Invasion, Pink = Female Vocals etc. 

For some reason, I have more copies of "Billy Don't Be a Hero" by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods than one man would ever need. Also multiple copies of "Deep Purple" by Donny and Marie Osmond and "You Take My Breath Away" by Rex Smith. Why? I don't know. But if you've got a jukebox and need any of those titles, I've got you covered. 

So the moral of the story is dreams can come true in '22. 

And "Jukebox Hero" isn't just a song by Foreigner. It's a real person named Sam and his rates are reasonable.

Dennis Hensley wrote the books "Misadventures in the 213" & "Screening Party," hosts the podcast Dennis Anyone? and is the creator/host of "The MisMatch Game." You can follow him on Twitter HERE.


Stephen said...

I Really enjoyed this and I still have all of my 45's.

frankb said...

Great story, Kenneth! I learned of Dennis from Derek & Romaine. I really enjoy his pod and even have the game 'You don't know my life'!! The joy you bring, sharing the same music and similar experiences is so appreciated. Thanks so much.

bentley1963 said...

You had me at please mr please but absolutely melted at billy don't be a hero!