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Brigham City tow truck driver amasses jukebox collection

Published April 12, 2013 7:25 am

Music • He doesn't have any plans to sell his nearly 20 machines, he just loves the sound.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Brigham City • Royce Reeder scouted the web and finally found it — a used jukebox.

The fact that it didn't work wasn't a problem. He could picture the scene and hear the music roaring at him. The idea of owning a jukebox was just too much. He purchased that beat-up machine from a secondhand dealer the same day.

He didn't know how to fix it — but was willing to learn. And when it was repaired, the sound was magic.

"When I heard the music, I thought, 'Wow!'" Reeder said while sipping coffee and leaning against a jukebox.

In two years, he has made a home for nearly 20 more — crammed like a Tetris puzzle into a borrowed office space. "I don't get into anything halfway," Reeder said. "I really get into music, there is no question about that."

The storage area has become a fix-it shop and refuge for misfit toys. "It's like an orphanage — I bring in ones that are broken and need a home," he said.

The National Guard veteran collects jukeboxes from anywhere he can tow them home. Some he got free, while others cost him a few hundred dollars. They span from the World War II era to the early 1980s. Some look like a basic cabinet while others have flashing lights and rotating album covers with an eclectic array of music. Almost all are in working condition.

"I don't care about the collector value, I want to hear the music," Reeder said about his jukeboxes that basically function as giant, expensive iPods that he changes out with a new playlist of 45 RPM records when he wants a new sound.

Listening to the records takes him back to his teenage years working at the Peach City Ice Cream Company, peeling potatoes and washing dishes. The jukebox would play non-stop, he recalled, especially "Sugar Town" by Nancy Sinatra — the B-side of "Summer Wine."

Clients that come into the office are stunned to see the collection. Women usually take an immediate interest, he said, while men put on a disenchanted front until he leaves, and then start fiddling.

Seeing how much people enjoy the experience, Reeder is thinking of putting his jukeboxes on display at a venue where people could listen to them and cut a rug.

Brett Reeder, Royce's son who is co-owner of the towing business, doesn't share his father's passion.

"Whatever makes him happy," he says with a smile.

Instead, the two share a different hobby — collecting and restoring classic cars. They have about 50 or 60 of them.

Reeder's interest is part of a growing trend in a timeless appeal for high-quality sound.

Vinyl records are making a comeback and so are jukeboxes, according to those in the industry.

Chris Copelin, manager at Randy's Records in Salt Lake City, said there are many reasons for the resurgence in analog records. The sound of analog is superior, she said. A CD or MP3 file has the music information compressed, while "the warmth" in the sound of an analog record is as close to a live music feel as you can get.

"It's younger people, for the most part, that are buying records," she said.

Copelin would love for jukeboxes to be just as popular as the turntables. Every day, someone comes into the store for a record to play on a turntable. Those who have jukeboxes replenish their supply about once a month.

"If everybody had their jukeboxes with their songs on a 45 — I would love to live in that world."

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