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MMD > Archives > April 2012 > 2012.04.29 > 04Prev  Next

The First "Nickelodeon" Piano
By Art Reblitz

The late restorer Dave Ramey Sr. recalled a neighbor in Danville,
Illinois, where he grew up, asking for his help to dismantle an old
"nickelodeon", a Cremona A-roll piano, in the late 1930s.

Colorado ragtime pianist and restorer Dick Kroeckel recalls reading
a mystery novel written prior to the late 1940s, in which the
characters wait for the "nickelodeon" in a roadhouse to finish
rewinding so the music would conceal their next move.

However, Farny Wurlitzer recalled in a 1960s interview with Q. David
Bowers that the term was not used formally to refer to automatic
instruments in their original era.  (Adapted from "The Golden Age of
Automatic Music," footnote on p. 119.)

This indicates the term was in use long before Theresa Brewer's 1950
rendition of "Music, Music, Music," although not used by the original
manufacturers.  It's likely that the term "nickelodeon piano" was used
informally when referring to automatic pianos used in nickelodeon
theatres before photoplayers became common.

Similarly, the term "juke box" or "jukebox" was commonly used by the
public early in the history of the coin-operated phonograph, even
though the manufacturers never used that term until modern times.

Art Reblitz

(Message sent Sun 29 Apr 2012, 20:42:36 GMT, from time zone GMT-0600.)

Key Words in Subject:  First, Nickelodeon, Piano

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