When talking of jukebox kings and queens, music enthusiasts in the Philippines refer to artists or singers (local or foreign) who had a string of singles that became favorites of many people to play on public jukeboxes in the late 1960s to the early 1980s, when jukeboxes were common fixtures in restaurants and other eateries in the capital region and other urbanized areas of the country.
That Wonderful Sound Machine
A jukebox is a partially automated music-playing device, usually a coin-operated machine, that can play specially selected songs from self-contained media (traditionally vinyl records). The classic jukebox has buttons with letters and numbers on them that, when combined, are used to indicate a specific song from a particular record. Very popular in the United States particularly in the 1950s, jukeboxes caught on in the Philippines already in the late 1960s.
No Single King nor Queen
Many Filipino singers have claimed to be the “Jukebox King” or “Jukebox Queen.” There are also fans and so-called music journalists who would fight for this title for their respective idols. However, there is really no one artist nor singer whom we can proclaim as the jukebox king or queen in encylopedic terms, unless a systematic national survey of jukebox-music enthusiasts has been conducted or a nationwide accounting of record sales has been made, which I haven’t heard of. Until then, all we can do fairly is only to cite examples of artists and singers whom we may regard as jukebox stars. Besides, titles like “Asia’s Songbird,” “American Idol,” “Princess of Balladry,” and “King of Pop” are merely subjective appellations—ploy of marketing executives of record companies to promote their contractual talents and commercial mediapeople’s tool to influence the taste and choice of the listening public based on their own musical preferences. Furthermore, what’s the point of declaring the king or the queen for this and that title when the world at large has already lots of “kings” who are actually dictators trying to curtail the sense of freedom of their subjects, as well as pageants and competitions which—instead of truly promoting beauty, intelligence, sportsmanship, and camaraderie—only breed jealousy in the hearts and the tendency to cheat in the minds of the masses?
Therefore, in the spirit of fairness and for the purpose of cultural objectivity, I will simply cite Filipino artists and singers all of whom may be regarded as jukebox stars of the Philippines for the simple reason each had a number of songs that became jukebox favorites of many people during the Philippines’ jukebox era (late 1960s to early 1980s).
Eddie Peregrina (1944–1977) was a popular young singer and actor in the late 1960s through the 1970s, who started singing at the age of six and who, unfortunately, died in 1977 in a vehicular accident at the peak of his showbusiness career. His jukebox hits included “Memories of Our Dreams,” “Alaala Ay Ikaw,” “What Am I Living For,” “Nabubuhay Ako dahil sa Iyo,” “Together Again,” “Two Lovely Flowers,” and “Mardy.” Peregrina’s songs are often Pop ballads, although he also recorded a few Garage Rock–type songs with his band The Blinkers (whose style is reminiscent of ’60s Garage Rock bands like The Yardbirds).
Victor Wood (1946–present) is a singer, songwriter, and actor whose peak of popularity was in the 1970s. After two decades of hiatus, in 1997 he returned to the scene with a new album. Some of the songs he recorded and which became jukebox favorites include “Kay Lupit Mo, Pag-ibig,” “Lonely Days, Lonely Nights,” “Hahabul-habol,” “Birheng Walang Dambana,” and “Bintana ng Puso.” The style of Wood is often described as a combination of Engelbert Humperdinck and Tom Jones.
Rico J. Puno (1953–present) is a Filipino singer and entertainer who continues to have an enduring showbiz career, which now spans more than three decades. He started singing professionally and releasing records in 1975 and, to this day, is still recording and performing. His songs that became jukebox favorites particularly in the late 1970s through the early 1980s include “Kapalaran,” “Buhat,” “Macho Guwapito,” “May Bukas Pa,” “Ang Tao’y Marupok,” and “Magkasuyo Buong Gabi.”
Peregrina, Wood, and Puno are just three musically prolific Filipino singers all of whom may be regarded as jukebox kings. Others whose songs used to adorn also the jukeboxes in the ’70s and early ’80s include Hajji Alejandro (“Nakapagtataka”), APO Hiking Society (“Pumapatak Na Naman ang Ulan”), Yoyoy Villame (“Magellan”), and Rey Valera (“Ako si Superman”).
In the next issue we will cite some of the female counterparts of these jukebox stars, as well as a few foreign artists who also had many hits in the Philippines during the jukebox era.