Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Automatic Human JukeBox - Grimes Poznikov

If you ever visited Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square or nearby Aquatic Park during the 70's or 80's, you may have come across the Automatic Human JukeBox, a painted refrigerator box from which Grimes Poznikov would play a tune of your choosing on trumpet (or a dozen other instruments), the quality of which depended on the amount of money you inserted. (above photo via Deb Wong)

Mr. Poznikov died October 27, 2005 in San Francisco on a sidewalk under a freeway overpass.

World renowned, he has quite an interesting life story. From a little research on Google, I found that he studied piano and then trumpet in Kansas from the age of 5. He was very active in the anti war protests around the country in the 60's and 70's. He settled in San Francisco to pursue a career in music and created the Automatic Human JukeBox. He was a teacher at one point. He created the Society For the Advancement of Nonverbal Communication which I understand to represent his view of music on life.

There is quite a bit of information on the Internet (Google "Grimes Poznikov" and you get 109 hits) about his performances and how he lived under a grand piano in a homeless encampment and dealt with city evictions and stories by people that knew him as a child or dated his sister and references to The Wall Street Journal and Charles Kuralt, well you just have to read them yourself. So, here is a small list of web sites I found that contain details about all of the above and more and fascinating pictures both early and late.

SF Chronicle Obituary story
LUSENET thread on SF history (great personal stories here)
SF Chronicle indepth story on his homelessness
SF About blog article
Probable picture (check out the maracas in his shoes)
Picture Gallery
Article in the India Daily
BBC News
A copycat in Japan
A classmate remembers in the Chicago Tribune (a good long story)
eJazz News


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dug into my files and found a 1987 picture of him...

4:26 AM, January 25, 2006  
Anonymous darrel clark said...

Somewhere around late 1972 or early 1973,Grimes would stop by where I was staying at 1947 Pine,in the City.He had a van- painted on the side were the words 'Society For The Advancement Of Non-Verbal Advancement' -He'd stop by,with his girlfriend at the upperstory 'collective' flat.I still haven't figured out who he knew there...At one point,he asked me if I had any spray paint.For his Automatic Human Jukebox project...Somewhere-I have a cassette tape with him talking on it..I'll have to dig it up.

9:02 PM, December 29, 2006  

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