John Lennon's 1965 Portable KB Discomatic Jukebox Page 2

Lennon's decision to schlep this 20 by 18 by 10.5 inch, 47 pound contraption on the road fascinates me. It was a mono machine, which was fine, singles were all mono at that point, and it had just a solo 8 by 5 inch speaker. Lennon could individually select A or B sides of the forty singles in the machine. Details are sketchy about how Lennon acquired the jukebox, but since it was distributed by a British enterprise I'm guessing it might have been a gift from the company. Maybe they were looking for a little publicity. That's pure speculation on my part, or Lennon just bought it to keep his favorite tunes handy when he was touring. Then again, he could have put forty singles on a few cassettes, 8 track cartridges, or reel-to-reel tapes and brought a much smaller tape player on the road. On second thought, singles, more than albums, were how most British kids listened to their tunes in the mid '60s. Lennon was 24 in 1965, and he still thought like a kid.

No 45s made after 1965 were in the jukebox, so apparently Lennon stopped using the player that year. The day before I finished writing this article I visited my friend Phillip Sztenderowicz, who works as a tech at Sterling Sound in NYC. I was telling him all about Lennon's KB Discomatic, and he said, "We have a John Lennon jukebox of our own." He pointed to a big chrome and black Seeburg jukebox in the dining area of the studio. John had given the Seeburg to another NYC studio, The Record Plant, in the late 1970s. Sztenderowicz said Lennon collected jukeboxes, and this one from the Record Plant wound up at Sterling a few years ago. The Seeburg had a good mix of rock, but mostly tunes from after John died.

The early Beatles music was clearly inspired by what was going on in the U.S. in the 1950s, and the first half of the 1960s, and then over the rest of the decade the Beatles returned the favor and gave us some of the most creative and greatest pop music of the century. The musical reverberations bouncing back and forth across the Atlantic never stopped.

Here's the tracklist from the "John Lennon's Jukebox" two CD set:


Disc one
1. "In the Midnight Hour" by Wilson Pickett
2. "Rescue Me" by Fontella Bass
3. "The Tracks of My Tears" by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
4. "My Girl" by Otis Redding
5. "1-2-3" by Len Barry
6. "Hi-Heel Sneakers" by Tommy Tucker
7. "The Walk" by Jimmy McCracklin
8. "Gonna Send You Back to Georgia" by Timmy Shaw
9. "First I Look at the Purse" by The Contours
10. "New Orleans" by Gary U.S. Bonds
11. "Watch Your Step" by Bobby Parker
12. "Daddy Rollin' Stone" by Derek Martin
13. "Short Fat Fannie" by Larry Williams
14. "Long Tall Sally" by Little Richard
15. "Money (That's What I Want)" by Barrett Strong
16. "Hey! Baby" by Bruce Channel
17. "Positively 4th Street" by Bob Dylan
18. "Daydream" by The Lovin' Spoonful
19. "Turquoise" by Donovan
20. "Slippin' and Slidin'" by Buddy Holly

Disc two
1. "Be-Bop-A-Lula" by Gene Vincent
2. "No Particular Place to Go" by Chuck Berry
3. "Steppin' Out" by Paul Revere & the Raiders
4. "Do You Believe in Magic" by The Lovin' Spoonful
5. "Some Other Guy" by The Big Three*
6. "Twist and Shout" by The Isley Brothers
7. "She Said, Yeah" by Larry Williams
8. "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" by Buddy Holly
9. "Slippin' and Slidin'" by Little Richard
10. "Quarter to Three" by Gary U.S. Bonds
11. "Ooh! My Soul" by Little Richard
12. "Woman Love" by Gene Vincent
13. "Shop Around" by The Miracles
14. "Bring It on Home to Me" by The Animals
15. "If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody" by James Ray with the Hutch Davie Orchestra
16. "What's So Good About Goodbye" by The Miracles
17. "Bad Boy" by Larry Williams
18. "Agent Double-O Soul" by Edwin Starr
19. "I've Been Good to You" by The Miracles
20. "Oh I Apologize" by Barrett Strong
21. "Who's Lovin' You" by The Miracles

Editors Note: Woot! The whole video is availableon's the Dutch version but most of the dialog is in English Here's the link. More cool links about the documentary and this sweet piece of gear after a short video of this gadget in action.

Thanks for this fascinating look at an important moment in personal audio history, Steve. Great stuff!

PBS website for John Lennon's Jukebox
Cool pictures of the insides of Discomatic products including the KB Discomatic.
Wiki page for John Lennon's Jukebox.


zobel's picture

I expect he will chime in here : )

zobel's picture

Mr. Analog, that is.

Michael Fremer's picture

And I want one!

Tyll Hertsens's picture

Me too!

lstrauss's picture

Mr Guttenberg, Thank you for your article. I'm trying to get as close to accurate as I can on the contents of John Lennon's discomatic:

You've written,

He had the jukebox restored and researched the forty, 7-inch 45 rpm singles loaded in the changer mechanism. We can be fairly certain the music was selected by Lennon because the jukebox's lid had all the 45s titles hand written by JL in each position.

I only see about 30 selections handwritten; and I've been trying to figure out if the discomatic was, in fact, empty when Mr Midwinter bought it and he went on a mostly pre-www adventure of trying figure out both the scrawl and the empty spaces.

I appreciate any insight you might have, because I love the idea of this artifact, and would like to be most certain what was actually in it.  Thank you.


yemcygomez's picture

Love John Lennons, this jukebox is ancient. I have a lot of friends who miss the good old days where we had a lot of fun just listening to old music that was a little exciting over time. Thanks for sharing this post.

daniel jackson's picture

is there away i can get one