A local broadcast and entertainment legend, who played a major role in bringing karaoke to Wichita Falls back in the very early 90’s, is adding to his collection of music nostalgia and juke box history.
“Mad” Joe Martin: “This 1952 jukebox is very reminiscent of the ’50’s, and this was used on the opening shots for the long- running TV show, ‘Happy Days’.”
When “Mad” Joe Martin first got into radio in 1970, beautiful Seeburg jukeboxes weren’t that uncommon.
In fact, the first time he ever slipped a nickel into a jukebox was in the mid 1950’s in Denton.
“My uncle owned a cafe, and he had a jukebox in the corner. He gave me a nickel and I went over and played it, and I was hooked then.”
Joe says all through the 60’s and 70’s he dreamed of owning one of his own.
Now his wait is over.
“Really almost makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up when I hear the old rock and roll music on a 78 from the early ’50’s played on a 1948 jukebox.”
“I love the shape. I love the colors. In a dark room, the dome completely lights up. You see colors changing in front of the grill cloth. The shape of it, the sound of it.”
This 1948 Rock-Ola could have very easily been in a place like the MB Corral.
“And the operators could have run them up into the mid ’50’s. The reason why they probably didn’t run them much longer is because they only had 20- selections, and the operators found out, hey let’s give the folks 100- selections and we can make a lot more money. That’s where this one… That’s where this one came in, exactly.”
Joe even has wall boxes hooked up to these beauties from the 40’s and 50’s.
“You would have been hearing your big band music on there, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, where here you would have been hearing Fats Domino and Little Richard.”
Joe says this one is a real treasure.
It’s a slow- turning Seeburg from the early 60’s that has two needles so it can also play the flipside of the record.
“This is the kind of background music machine you would have seen maybe at Sears downtown in Wichita Falls, or at the Piggly Wiggly grocery stores. Some people might call that a Muzak machine. But this thing, you can put 25- records on it, and it will not repeat a song in 36- hours.”
One of the things Joe loves most about his collection of jukebox history is what he’s also put in them. Jingles will take you back to the early 1960’s in Wichita Falls radio.
Sheppard Air Force Base you’ll see. There’s Midwestern University. Wichita Falls, Wichita Falls, that’s my hometown. Wichita Falls, Wichita Falls, that’s my hometown.
One jingle even goes back to 1955.
Make sure your dial is always set at KTRN, at KTRN Wichita Falls.
Joe’s collection goes back much further than that, though.
“1905 maybe up to 1912 or so. Got to put a little gas in the tank. No electricity here. There you start it, and with a little luck…”
Red hot mama, red hot mama, sweetest gal in town.
Couple of days ago I was sitting in here, hearing songs, and certain songs take me back to certain places in my life. When I play a song from 1972 I think to myself, i just came to KTRN when I played that Doobie Brothers song and it was brand new, or I was in Liberal Kansas and I played a Jimi Hendrix song or a song from The Doors that was popular in ’71. When I hear that song, it takes me back to that time.”
Each of the glowing machines in this “Mad” scientist’s lab of nostalgia tells a different story.
And, oh the memories they could spin for so many when they come alive.
“Think how many people walked up and have stood. Happy people, sad people, lonely people, people who are celebrating anniversaries, birthdays. If they could talk, it would be an endless story.”
“Wake it up. Wake it up, oh oh. Let’s get it up and rolling baby”
In 2003, “Mad” Joe Martin was inducted into the Mobile Disc Jockey Hall of Fame in Las Vegas.
Almost 45- years after becoming a big voice in Texoma radio, this is where you’ll often find him today.
On this side of the speakers, and who could blame him?
“It’s a way for me to relive the past and be happy. I find a lot of peace when I just come in here and sit.”
“Thanks for letting me spend a little time with you today sharing the memories. This is “Mad” Joe Martin in the Mad Museum, signing off for KFDX 3- news.”