All About Jukeboxes

JUKEBOXES UNLIMITED.com®
Established 1971
Los Angeles, CA 91394
1-818-366-9400

Our jukeboxes have been professionally rebuilt/restored
and include a full one year parts warranty.


We ship worldwide.

Company History

Don A. Muller created JUKEBOXES UNLIMITED® in 1971 while program director and afternoon drive disc jockey (Don Daro) at the #1 radio station (KMEO AM/FM) in Phoenix, AZ.

It didn't begin as a hobby but was rather intended as a vehicle by which Don hoped to buy a radio station of his own.  In the late 1990's Don and a well-known rock singer nearly purchased a 50,000 - watt AM station in Los Angeles for $250,000.  The performer's manager backed out.  The station later sold (1-20-06) for $43 million.

Don's mechanical background came from building hotrods in the late '50's and early '60's.  Such as dropping V8's in Model 'A' Fords.

In 1966 he graduated from the Don Martin School of Radio and Television Broadcasting Arts and Sciences in Hollywood with an FCC First Class Radio and Television license.  He then engineered at numerous radio stations to provide his electronics background.

The fact that he was pioneering a new industry (that of reconditioning jukeboxes for sale to homes) brought international attention to the fledging company.  Hundreds of articles and numerous TV interviews followed.

From the start, Don wrote, produced and performed his own commercials for radio and TV.  What started in his Phoenix living room quickly expanded to bigger and better stores as well as repair facilities as the years went on.

By 1973, JUKEBOXES UNLIMITED® was selling more than just jukeboxes.  In fact the company business card read:  "Anything that takes your money".  In 1976 you could find on display in the Metrocenter Shopping Mall store in North Phoenix, old and new:

JUKEBOXES

PINBALL MACHINES

POOL TABLES

VIDEO GAMES

SLOT MACHINES

GUMBALL MACHINES

ARCADE GAMES

STREETCAR FARE BOXES

PARKING METERS

PACHINKO MACHINES

... and much more to list.

As word of this unique business echoed around the country via articles and features in print and on TV, other enterprising folks opened stores of their own.  The phenomenon had begun to spread.  All the networks had already featured Don and his business, which was then picked up by the wire services and thus newspapers all over the world.

But before it really caught on and jukebox operators were still naive as to the value of their old equipment, Don would contact several of them over the phone.  He would learn what 'goodies' they had and negotiate prices.  Then he'd arrange to go get them.

In the days before JUKEBOXES UNLIMITED ®, operators would "dispose" of retired equipment 
to keep it out of the hands of upstart operators.  They would strip jukeboxes of amplifiers and 
speakers and destroy the cabinets.

In Los Angeles an old operator told how he used to haul complete 1946 "1015" Wurlitzers up to Mulholland Drive (the mountain dividing Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley) and push them off into the canyons.

The 1949 Seeburg 100 selection jukebox made all other brands obsolete since they played no more than 40 selections.

Operators who had economical warehouse space tended to hang on to the "prettier" models rather than toss them out.  Yet they still didn't know what they were going to do with them in the future.

Then Don came along and offered to "clean out" their entire building for cash.  In the early days (1971-1975) he'd by a 1953 Seeburg "C" for around $5 to $7 dollars or a Wurlitzer 1080 for $125.  So for $800 to $2000, he would fill a 40-foot  semi while freeing up operator's buildings.

In the desert areas of the Southwest Don found warehouses full of immaculate, rust free jukeboxes.  Hundreds of them at a time.  Don got his license to drive big rigs and headed out to fill 'em up with 
great finds.

Don learned early on that when a unit was heavier than the others, it was probably full of money. 
Often times it was silver!

The first large buy of items was from Prescott Music in Prescott, AZ. Most were '40's and '50's AMIs with a few Wurlitzers from the '40's.  After getting back to Phoenix, Don discovered an "Out of Order" note taped over the coin slot of a 1946 Seeburg "Trashcan" jukebox.  When he removed it he realized it was written on a café receipt for a 5-cent cup of coffee and dated 1953.  Upon opening the front door the cause of the problem was obvious.  The entire coin chute was full of silver.  The best part was that the jukebox had been setting "unused" since 1953.  It was like new.

That operator agreed to selling Don all his old stuff as long as Don hauled away all the old 45's and spare parts.  The jukeboxes and slot machines were stored for years right under the Palace Hotel across from the town center.

Another time in Gallup, NM the operator made Don's guys also take the stupid gumball machines stored in an abandoned meat locker.  He had acquired them when he bought the route.

Yet the interesting part was that they weren't full of gumballs, but polished agate key chains.  Don's guys soon learned that the ones empty of agate were instead full of quarters.

This same operator insisted that Don also take a few hundred chrome Seeburg 3W1 wall boxes.  Don had no idea what he would do with them and left without them.

As he and his crew sat having dinner at a diner on the outskirts of town a truck with its headlights aiming high came down the highway and pulled in to the parking lot next to one of Don's trucks.

When Don got out to the parking lot later he found that the operator had filled his truck with the wall boxes.  Eventually Ed in the shop came up with the idea of converting them into lighted telephone directories with 110 - volt ac transformers.

In those days you could buy a fully reconditioned 1954 AMI "F" 120 from JUKEBOXES UNLIMITED® 
for $125 with a year warranty.

One day in 1972 a wealthy doctor called Don to ask what the balance was on the jukebox his 15 - year - old son had just bought for $125.  When Don explained it was paid in full the doctor invited him to his home where upon the doctor handed Don a check for $1,000,000 to be a 49% partner along with 3 other doctors.  Don declined.

By 1975 JUKEBOXES UNLIMITED® had expanded to include a large retail store in a major shopping center, as well as a 5,000 square foot shop where 5 mechanics rebuilt "Anything that takes your money".

In 1976, Don looked to move the operation to where folks had more "disposable income".  His research shown the residents of fashionable Brentwood (near Santa Monica) CA to be a perfect fit.

In September of 1977 JUKEBOXES UNLIMITED® opened its first store in the Los Angeles area. 
Each Friday evening Don would head out to Phoenix with an empty pickup.  On Saturday morning 
he’d meet the mechanics at the shop to quality check what they had rebuilt the previous week.

Together they'd finish the products and load up the 1964 FORD F-100.  Then Sunday afternoon Don would head back to LA loaded with goodies for the West LA store.  Eventually a 50,000 square foot refurbishing facility was setup in Ladera Heights, near LA, and all operations in Phoenix were closed down.

Sadly, none of the mechanics wanted to relocate to the "rat race" of LA.  Yet one of Don's neighbors decided to move his family as did Don.

After a time, great mechanics were found and paid well in LA.  The first mechanics in Phoenix started 
at $1.25 per hour in 1971. The mechanics in LA started at $9.00 in 1977.

Most of the Phoenix mechanics had never worked on jukeboxes before coming to JUKEBOXES UNLIMITED®.  Most of the LA mechanics were from Mexico and had extensive backgrounds in 
jukebox as well as other electro-mechanical repairing.

The West LA (Wilshire Blvd) location proved a goldmine for celebrity clientele.  Immediately The Playboy Mansion contacted Don to rebuild Hef's 1946 Wurlitzer 1015 that had been purchased 
from a competitor only 6 months prior.

Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Mick Fleetwood, and Lindsey Buckingham were just a few of the early customers.  Soon after, Steve Martin, Doc Demento, Dean Torrance, Dave Mason, Bill Bixby and many other entertainers learned about JUKEBOXES UNLIMITED®'s nifty items.

One day Johnny Carson walked into the store and pulled a folded up JUKEBOXES UNLIMITED® coupon ad from his wallet.  It was 2 years old and referred to a Seeburg 3w1 wall box that the shop converted to telephone directories.  There was one left.  He bought it.

Glenn Frey would frequently bring in his friends to sell them on buying jukeboxes.  Once The Playboy Mansion had learned Don could fix just about anything they had him there all the time.  Needless to 
say this was a wonderful time for JUKEBOXES UNLIMITED®.

In 1978 there were 18 stores selling jukeboxes in the LA area and Don told his wife he'd put them all out of business.  At one point he hired away all the mechanics from a competitor.  Then as he prepared to eliminate the last remaining store, G.A.M.E.S., it closed down.

Don will tell you two things helped his company succeed then as it does today.  One is extensive knowledge of the product and the other is a "fun" attitude.  Don always jokes with his customers.  He says it makes them laugh and feel more comfortable.

By the end of 1979 rent at the 50,000 square foot repair/warehouse facility had climbed from 9 
cents to 13 cents a square foot and the Wilshire store was now at $2.

It was in 1978 that Don began trying to convince Pacific Bell that he didn't like to have his large 
display ads placed under the heading of "PHONOGRAPHS COIN - OPERATED" in the Yellow Pages. 
He deemed it misrepresentative since he set his jukeboxes on 'free play' for homes.

At the end of 1979 he got a call from PacBell headquarters in San Francisco telling him that the new 1980 phone book for Los Angeles would be their first two part book and that for the first time a slang word (JUKEBOXES) would be used as a new heading.  PacBell said the rest of the country would soon follow.

In 1980 Don decided to relocated to well known Sepulveda Blvd. in Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles.  Space was only 65 cents a foot and once again the shop and store were combined.

This combining of facilities was what Don preferred.  This way a potential customer could be walked back thru the shop to see how things were rebuilt.

At this time JUKEBOXES UNLIMITED® was contacted by Sega Corporation of Japan to sell their retired jukeboxes.  They were the largest jukebox operator in the world and had 100 mechanics working around the clock refurbishing machines exclusively for JUKEBOXES UNLIMITED®.

Machines were completely rebuilt by SEGA Japan's mechanics, prepared for shipment, placed on a pallet and loaded in containers to be shipped to the USA.  The total cost per box to JUKEBOXES UNLIMITED® was amazingly low and profits soared.

During the early '80's JUKEBOXES UNLIMITED® might have been the largest jukebox retailer in the world selling 850 to 900 units (mostly to homes) each year.  Once again Don wrote and ran innovative TV and print advertising campaigns that brought in thousands of customers from all over the state.

In September of 1980 Don purchased the entire parts department of the J.P. Seeburg Sales Corporation (Seeburg Jukebox Company or SMC Seeburg Manufacturing Company), 1500 N. Dayton, Chicago. (See story in the "In the news" section of this site).

At the end of 1984 Don decided to close the last retail store and devote more time to developing jukebox party rentals. Thus JUKEBOXES FOR RENT® was formed.

The story of the company's years following will eventually be compiled.  Stay tuned.

As we approach the 50 year mark in business, I reflect back to those last lines I wrote in our "History" to be found here on our site.  I said we were going to shut down our retail stores and devote our efforts to the party rental business. We did and at one point were renting jukeboxes primarily for house parties to the tune of 1200 rentals a year.

But people still wanted to buy our jukeboxes.

So we continued selling and renting and eventually got into the "prop" business. The production companies and studios in Hollywood found out we could make a jukebox do just about anything they wanted.

Remember that the next time you see a jukebox in a Movie, TV Show, Commercial, Music Video or print media. We’re everywhere.

 

So here's my take on JUKEBOXES UNLIMITED® today November 11th 2019:

How Cool are JUKEBOXES?

I have a somewhat whimsical, nearly mystical, very unique, awfully fun, simply amazing, as well as highly rewarding business in an industry I pioneered nearly 50 years ago.

My customers tell me I have the "coolest business" and "greatest job" in the world. To me, it's a labor of love. People around the world tell us when they Google 'jukebox' our site comes up within the first few pages,

Everyone everywhere loves jukeboxes. When viewed or mentioned, people’s eyes light up, a huge smile comes across their face and they gleefully tell of their encounters and experiences through life with one or more of these beauties.

Next thing you know they're asking all about the history and magical workings of these marvelous machines.

JUKEBOXES are loved in nearly every culture in the world because they play the International language of love and peace …. MUSIC!

Through the years my little venture and I have been featured numerous times on TV and in hundreds of print articles around the world. I've been on ABC, CBS and NBC. Decades ago ELLE magazine in France placed me and an old Wurlitzer in the centerfold.

You could find me in the premier issue of "Sh-boom!" magazine and the last issue of "Jukebox Collector" or stuck between the pages of girlie magazine “Cavalier” along with a very young Tracy Lords. Other times we've been featured in Billboard, Cashbox, Replay, LA Daily News and even the Los Angeles Herald Examiner.

In late 1989 I was instrumental, along with the help of Replay Magazine’s Ed Adlum, in convincing record companies to prolong the inevitable demise of 7" 45s through 2006.

Forty years ago I was featured in a Washington Post article titled "The JUKEBOX Hoarders". In 2017 the music magazine BILLBOARD published an article on me and my jukeboxes and in 2015 NPR radio rode around and kidded around with me for an entire day. The girl who got the job said everybody at the station wanted to do the story.

In 2006 The Los Angeles Times put my story on the cover of the Calendar section Weekend Edition and in the centerfold titled "Jukebox Heroes". My jukes have been in Super Bowl commercials for Bud Light and portrayed on Rose Parade floats for The Kiwanis Club.

They've been used to promote Marlboro cigarettes and Lee jeans in the US, Cadillac cars in England and vitamins in Japan. A singer from the country of Georgia asked me and a jukebox to be in his rock music video.

Side Note: I'm the guy who put the first slang word in the Yellow Pages. JUKEBOX. It was Pacific Bell's first and massive 2 books for 1980 Los Angeles.

I did this 'cause I wanted it to be 1 word instead of 2 (JUKE  BOX) so I could stack JUKEBOXES  UNLIMITED® symmetrically on top of each other on my business cards.

We're currently in the first episode of a new TV show out of Canada titled "Vintage Tech Hunters" and our appearance on "Storage Wars" seems to run continuously. Several times I’ve been offered to do a TV series.

We’ve been on "Entertainment Tonight", "Nickelodeon", "The Today Show" and locally "Two on the Town" and "AM/ LA". Once upon a time Dick Clark hired me to bring a jukebox to the 26th annual country music awards in 1991 where Alan Jackson sang: "Don't Rock the Jukebox".

Back around 1971-’72 the manager of ELO stopped by our store in Phoenix to tell us it was his favorite store in the entire world. After his visit ELO began using the big round Wurlitzer speaker as their logo

In 1995 Tom Petty convinced MTV's VH-1 New York to film his "God Bless Our Mobile Home" video in my living room although he had never been to my home before.

In 2017 we painted a "Bubbler" Cadillac PINK for the Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco.

One of our 1955 Seeburgs was on the cover of the Bruno Mars CD titled "UNORTHODOX JUKEBOX" and another of our jukes just entertained VIP back stage at a "Stray Cats" concert in LA. But don't get me talking 'bout celebs; for I have lots of them as clients and stories to go along. Of course some I can't share.

And as crazy as it may seem, back in the 80's Molson Breweries of Canada made my life into a 30 second beer commercial and now I'm in an issue of Watch Journal Magazine which is totally unrelated to jukeboxes.

Recently I met a lady with a nationwide TV network who told me mine was just the kind of human interest story she loved to tell.

You’'re gonna love this: a while back a middle aged Chinese man came to me with his lovely young translator and bought $80,000 worth of product.

I think I've done OK for a kid who had no idea what was going on in school from kindergarten through a short stint studying marketing at ASU.

Besides popularizing the sale of jukeboxes to homes and later buying the entire parts department of the Seeburg factory in Chicago, I've maintained high visibility within this niche industry.

I'm told when searching for jukeboxes our website comes up within the first few pages most anywhere in the world. It also has a higher ranking than most in the 'jukebox to home' sales business.

These decades have brought me so much excitement, pleasure and fun it’s hard to describe. But it's not me personally that draws people to seek me out; it's the jukeboxes.

My goal is to keep this American Icon born of American ingenuity living on well into the future and not just in the history books but in homes and businesses around the world. All the while appreciating what it stands for in our wonderful American culture.

Every bit of what I've said has happened and is still happening. I tell you this so it doesn’t make you wonder how it is that

"Nobody Doesn't Like JUKEBOXES."

Don A. Muller

JUKEBOXES UNLIMITED® / Los Angeles

Read more of the JU company history here.

 

Jukeboxes Unlimited ® "A Good Deal Of Fun Since '71" 1-818-366-9400

Jukeboxes Unlimited ® Jukeboxes For Rent ®
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