Jukebox Heroes

Jukeboxes have been as much of an integral part of Elliston Place Soda Shop as milkshake mixers and banana split boats. The machines that played vinyl records were a way to entertain customers with the popular music of the day. They became known as jukeboxes because of their popularity in southern juke joints, the often bawdy and raucous music clubs where, horror of horrors, dancing was allowed!


In fact, the word "juke" is generally credited as coming from the Gullah culture of former slaves of Coastal South Carolina and Georgia, derived from a West African word that means "wicked or disorderly." And that was before Elvis started swinging those hips on television.


The soda shop's now-iconic wall-mounted Wurlitzer jukeboxes were installed some time around 1957, and they allowed customers to select records and hear them played at their tables, a huge boon when the place was noisy and busy. If you look at the cards in them now, you'll see songs like Elton John & Kiki Dee's 1976 smash hit "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" were at the top of the charts. The wall units were decommissioned some time in the late 1970's due to persistent mechanical problems.


When we moved the Soda Shop from its current location, there was no question about taking these gems with us. We even had them lovingly restored, cleaned up and re-chromed. While they still don't work, they're a beautiful link to our past. Until we can figure out a modern Bluetooth solution to get them to play again, you're welcome to play DJ on the large Wurlitzer in the back of the room that has 100 CD's loaded with classic and contemporary hits. When you have more than 80 years of history to choose from, and you call Music City home, you need a lot of music.