Boom Boxes/Ghetto Blasters
By Patrick Mondout
First Sony set us all free to listen to our own music in private with a
set of headphones and the Walkman
in 1979. Then a whole host of consumer electronics companies gave us
the freedom to blast the entire neighborhood with the latest Run
DMC or Metallica
cassette using what came to be called Boom Boxes (a.k.a. "ghetto
If you were an urban teenager in the Awesome80s and you were not a
preppy, a jock, an electric guitar player, or an ace hacky-sack player,
your goal in life was to have the loudest, biggest, and coolest looking
(in that order) boom box in your school/neighborhood. This made you the
"Master Blaster." Failing that, you'd beat the crap out of the
punk who dissed you by bringing his badass box into your territory. (If
you were the punk who regularly got beat up, take heart - the guy who beat
you up is probably listening to his weak box right now on death row.)
Turn That G()D@#!$% Thing Down!
Surely the noisiest (and to some, the most annoying) fad of all-time,
these portable stereos on steroids used as many as ten "D" cell
batteries in a single afternoon! And by the mid-Awesome80s, the higher-end
models not only had a dual cassette, but a CD player as well. If you
wanted to be both "down with your homies in da 'hood" and considered
a "hoodlum" by the elders in your environment, this box was all
you needed. That and a backpack for all those replacement batteries!
If you wanted to seriously irritate the Geritol crowd, you pressed the
magical button labeled "Bass Boost." That allowed your most
distant and hard-of-hearing WW2 vet to at least hear the beat of the
"music" you were playing - booming throughout his entire body!
Not that any of those boom boxes needed any more bass. But then that was
never really the point as a generation of rebellious youth discovered. No
wonder the generation that rebelled by fighting for civil rights in the
South and by protesting the war in Vietnam just shook their heads in
disgust at our rebellious ways. I can hardly wait to see (hear?)
what the youth of the year 2020 have in store for us!
Where Are They Now?
Boom boxes are selling briskly and some models even play MP3 files. It
looks like this one-time fad, like rock 'n roll itself, is here to stay.
You can buy the retro/original models on eBay. Check our links below and
to the right.