I've always been crazy about music. As a small child, my middle brother John was responsible for looking after me on Saturdays, and his obsession with music was just one of those things that as a kid brother, I learned to emulate. Every Saturday, we'd head into Chesterfield where one of our first stops was Hudson records. This was the late 60's, and they still had the listening booths, where after selecting a single and passing it to the person behind the counter, they'd put it on one of the turntables and point you towards the relevant booth.
The soundtrack to my early childhood was a diet rich in Tamla Motown, Atlantic records and The Small Faces. Every week, John would look through the new releases, and he'd pull out a couple that looked promising. I remember loving the simplicity of the Tamla Motown record sleeves, instinctively knowing them for their quality and consistency. Duly assigned to our booth, my brother would don the headphones, and the track would begin. I couldn't hear anything, but I'd pick up the vibe by the way his body responded to the beat. He'd listen to it all the way through, and sometimes ask them to play it again. I'd ask if I could have a listen too, but those requests would always fall on deaf and Tamla-filled ears. I'd feel hurt, but know that when we got home, he'd be playing it non-stop, and I'd get to hear it then.
Fast forward to early 1980. I was a first year student visiting my brother and his wife in London. Over a beer, I was telling him how I'd turned my love of punk and new wave music into a gig as a college DJ. I was really into the whole Two Tone thing back then (The Specials, Madness, The Selector, The Beat) and loved the way that they did homage to the mod and soul classics from the 60s. My brother told me that he still had all of his old 45s, and asked me if I'd like them. I don't think he had finished getting the words out of his mouth, before I answered with an emphatic "YES!" I remember getting back to Wolverhampton with my precious cargo, and proceeding to lose the next few days reliving my childhood through Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Otis Redding and Stevie Wonder.
Fast forward again to 2001. I was now turning 40, newly single and ready to celebrate my birthday in style. Ebay was still quite new then, and few people were comfortable making big purchases on there. I decided to treat myself to something I'd always wanted - my very own jukebox. I chose a 1951 Seeburg (model 100B), which was the very first jukebox designed to play 45s. There were only 27,000 of them ever made, and it is just a thing of great beauty. I loaded it up with a mix of my brother's records and my own; The Clash nestling alongside The Four Tops; David Bowie and Dexy's Midnight Runners side by side with Elvis Costello. It was a huge success at my birthday party. I'd put a tub of quarters beside it (1 play for 10 cents, or 3 for a quarter) and people kept feeding it and dancing until 5am.
Even though I don't play it all that often nowadays, it's just comforting to know that some of the happiest memories of my childhood are just 25 cents away!