New Book Examines History of the Boombox
Before the Internet and MP3 players, there was the boombox. It was the first democratic and public way to listen to your favorite music in high fidelity and one of the coolest fashion accessories of its day. In a new book by photographer and collector Lyle Owerko entitled ‘The Boombox Project,’ the box is explored in all its shapes and forms along with a photographic history of the urban environments where the boombox played its biggest role in the late ’70s and throughout the ’80s.
The book uses the photos as a centerpiece but also features exclusive interviews with Kool Moe Dee, LL Cool J, Adam Yauch from the Beastie Boys, Fab 5 Freddy and Rosie Perez. Owerko recently told the Philadelphia Daily News that the people interviewed barely even mentioned the radio section of the box.
“For the most part, radio wasn’t playing what they wanted to hear, except maybe for the global music-sampling, box-celebrating, punk-rocking Clash,” he said.
Now mostly obsolete with the drastic drop in cassette usage since the early ’90s, Owerko believes that boomboxes still play an important role in American life.
“That’s why you still see images of boomboxes decorating t-shirts and album covers, in music videos and in movies,” he explained. “Boomboxes still signify a certain sense of rebelliousness, free speech, toughness and attitude. They also make us smile and remember a time of ingenuity and innocence.” We couldn’t agree more.