For people of a certain age, seven-inch 45 rpm vinyl records are what music was, and is, all about. They just can’t think of Elvis without picturing that signature yellow Sun record label, or The Beatles without recalling the label on all those Capitol 45s, with their trademark orange-and-yellow swirl.

Also known as singles because each side had a playing time of less than five minutes, 45s were first marketed in the United States by RCA in 1949. The format made its way to the U.K. in 1950. The hole in the center of a 45 was larger than the one for a 78 or LP, which allowed them to be stacked on spindles and dropped, one at a time, for continuous play. Immediately embraced by consumers, 45s were a big hit with jukebox manufacturers and operators, too, who liked the way the space-saving 45s allowed them to quadruple (compared to 78s) the number of songs they could offer customers.

Early adopters of the 45 included Fats Domino, whose 1949 single, “Fat Man,” is one of the most collectible 45s by any artist. Ray Charles released “I Got a Woman,” the Drifters cut “Save the Last Dance For Me,” and James Brown rocked the house with “Please, Please, Please.”

Of course, some of the most prized 45s around are those Elvis Sun singles. The first was "That’s All Right," which was recorded live in the studio in 1954. The single’s B-side was a Bill Monroe bluegrass tune from the 1940s called "Blue Moon of Kentucky." Two more Sun singles followed that year, with another pair in 1955, for a total of five Elvis Sun singles containing 10 songs.

Other 1950s acts to score big with 45s include Chuck Berry (“Johnny B. Goode”), Bill Haley (“Ten Little Indians”), Little Richard (“Long Tall Sally”), and Carl Perkins (he recorded his tune “Blue Suede Shoes” a year before The King laid down his version for Sun).

On the other side of the Atlantic, the first U.K. Beatles single was "Love Me Do," which was released in 1962 by Parlophone, whose red label was augmented by blue, yellow, purple, and red horizontal stripes on the 45’s sleeve. Other collectible U.K. Beatles singles are the title tracks from the films “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!”

In the United States, before Capitol Records signed the band in 1964, Vee-Jay Records released several Beatles 45s. One famous Vee-Jay typo was on the 1963 single of "Please Plea...

Late-1960s album-oriented-rock artists are generally not known for their 45s, but The Doors were a notable exception. In particular, its hit song “Light My Fire” got lots of airplay, thanks in no small part to the hot-selling, and shortened, single.

Northern Soul 45s are also in high demand. Those are the discs that were spun from the late-1960s though the 1970s by DJs at northern England dance clubs such as The Twisted Wheel and Wigan Casino. Gloria Jones, Jackie Wilson, and the Imperials were all popular artists associated with that scene. Finally, later in the 1970s, disco, dominated the charts. Disco fever, as it was called, owed a huge debt to 45s by the Bee-Gees (“Stayin’ Alive”), Gloria Gayner (“I Will Survive”), and the Village People (“YMCA”), to name but a few.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Sun Records Discography

Sun Records Discography

John Boija's comprehensive site offers photos of every 45, 78, and LP recorded at Sun Records—from those recorded… [read review or visit site]

Record Envelope

Record Envelope

Record Envelope is a blog-turned-library for record collectors. Self-described by British artist Kavel Rafferty as … [read review or visit site]

45 RPM Record Label Designs

45 RPM Record Label Designs

A quick tour of 45 rpm label designs from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Do the whole slide show or use the alphabetical i… [read review or visit site]

Jesse Barron's collection of Beatles 45s, picture sleeves, magazines, books, and memorabilia. Browse singles and al… [read review or visit site]

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas pays homage to international female opera singers of the LP era. Chronicling more than 800 singers, the… [read review or visit site]



Despite its mysterious title, 317X is plain and simple—an online gallery of vintage LPs, with a 1950s vintage fee… [read review or visit site]

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

This great site, from the Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors, offers detailed background information an… [read review or visit site]

The Remington Site

The Remington Site

Since 1999, the Remington Site has offered classical music collectors a glimpse into Remington Records, an independ… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Modern/northern Soul 45 Ujima-i'm Not Ready Epic Us;ultra Rare Grail;m-Modern Soul Funk 45 Phillip Wright-keep Her Happy Dash;ultra Rare Grail;mint!!The Beatles Love Me Do Original Outstanding 1962 Uk 1st Issue Red Label Vinyl 45Velvet Hammer - Happy - Soozi - Us 45 - 70's Northern Soul ***original Label***Tony Middleton - Paris Blues - Mala 544 Promo - Northern Soul - Vg++ Sound HearSherri Taylor Northern Soul 45 He's The One That Rings My Bell/i've Got A CrushFunk 45 Ricky Allen Cut You Lose/soul Street On Tam-boo Northern Soul/r&b 45 Nat Hall Why (i Want To Know)/you Don't Know On Loop The Beatles Please Please Me Mega Rare 1963 Uk 1st Issue Red Label Vinyl 45Modern Soul 45 Raj Something Inside Oak Tree Super Clean Copy! ListenNorthern Soul Doo-wop Garage Rockabilly Lot Of 67 - 45's Records Rare ListedPopcorn R&b 45 Chance Halladay 13 Women / John Henry Gnp ListenNorthern Soul 45 Checkmates Ltd Kissin’ Her And Crying For You Capitol ListenFunk 45 Trinikas Remember Me / Black Is Beautiful On Pearce NmReggae-rare P.allen - Fisherman Killer Roots On The Ponko Dread Label 45"Funk 45 ~ Charles Simmons ~ Save The World ~ Hit Sound ~ Mp3 Rare! Nm!Northern Soul 45 ~ Pat & The Blenders ~ Just Because ~ Fast Eddie ~ Rare! Mp3Northern Soul 45 ~ Honey & The Bees ~ Love Addict ~ Arctic ~ Mp3 Rare!Led Zeppelin - Legendary Classic Records 45 Rpm Road Case 10 Lps On 48 DiscsVelvet Hammer Party Hammer / Happy 7" Soozi Soo 112 Northern Soul 1977 RareLed Zeppelin Lot Of 48 Lps 45 Cd Japan Zep 2 + Zep 4 Yardbirds Golden 3 Box SetsThane Russal & Three~security Oz Cbs Orig Garage Beat 45 StomperJimmie Raye "philly Dog Around The World" Northern SoulFunk Gospel Soul 45 Caffey Brothers Make Me Over / I Can See Clearly Aura ListenSuper Rare Boogie 45 Glass Pyramid Who’s Girl Are You? Private Press ListenSoul Funk 45 ~ Tommy Dent And Soul Commandos ~ Hair ~ Rapda ~ Mp3 Rare!Eddie Jefferson Psychedelic Sally Rare Mod Jazz Funk Soul 45 Prestige7" Bobby Sheen Dr. Love/ Sweet Sweet Love 45 Capitol Cl 15455 Uk Demo 1966Modern Soul Boogie 45 James Thomas Society He’s Gonna Get It Glorma Listen MintPharrell Williams - Happy - Mega Rare 7" Us Vinyl 45 - New & ShrinkwrappedModern Soul Funk 45 Stratus Girl Wyldwood Listen MintRare Funk Soul 45 Bottom & Company Gonna Find A True Love Motown ListenThe Beatles Please Please Me/ask Me Why. Original 1963 Red Label 45..excellentFunk 45 ~ Communicators & Black Experience Band ~ Road ~ Tri Oak ~ Mp3 Rare! Nm!Rare Soul 45 Merben #503 John Bowie You're Gonna Miss A Good Thing / At The End70's Soul 45 Tsu Toronados Please Heart Don't Break On Rampart Street NmThe Animals - 14 X *mint* Uk 1960's 1st Press 45s + *unplayed* Decca EpNorthern Soul 45 Apollas Mr. Creator/all Sold Out On Warner Bros. Eddie Daye & 4 Bars ~ Rare ~ Shrine Northern Soul 45 Scarce Holy Grail Vg+ HearElvis Presley A Touch Of Gold Vol. I On Rca 45 (epa-5088) MintRecord Lot Of 47 45s 1960's Rock W/ Carry Case Beatles Stones GarageModern Soul Funk 45 Broken Glass Rather You Than Me Citysound M- Pic Sleeve7" Soulettes Opportunity / Dizzy Johnny Sudden Destruction 45 Ska Beat Rare NmRare! Jackie Day- 45 Soul Rpm On Phelectron! Soul Funk 45 ~ Lee Moses ~ Bad Girl ~ Musicor ~ Mp3 Rare!7" Lord Tanamo I'm In The Mood For Love 45 Ska Beat Uk 1965 Ultra Rare!!! Nm-Avatar - City Beneath The Surface 7'' Record 45 Rpm 1982 Par RecordsHollidays Northern Soul 45 ~ I Lost You / Easy Living ~ Groove City Modern Soul 45 Luther Don’t Wanna Be A Fool Cotillion ListenDee Edwards ~ Why Can't There Be Love/say It Again With Feeling Funk/soul 45R&b Mod Soul 45 Sonny Oliver & The Statics Kee-mo-sabee Vardan 1801 Orig Vg+Mark Iv Signs Of A Dying Love (parts I & Ii) Otb Records Rare Modern Soul 45Fire Exit Time Wall Rare Uk Punk Kbd Diy 45 1979 Timebomb Fully Autographed!Nirvana Pennyroyal Tea Bw Hate Myself... 7" Vinyl Rsd 2014 Record Store Day 45Electro Boogie 2 Step 45 Glass Pyramid It’s Time To Party Private Press ListenDisco Modern Soul 45 Pure Pleasure By My Side / Dancin’ Prancin’ Qc ListenBruce Springsteen / Japan 45 / "tenth Avenue Freeze-out" Stock Copy Very Rare!Northern Soul 45 Jack Montgomery Dearly Beloved/do You Believe It On Scepter Wlp**beatles - Please Please Me/from Me To You - Italian Vee-jay Ps/45 Topcopy!Northern Soul 45 ~ Rubin ~ You've Been Away ~ Kapp ~ Mp3

Recent News: 45 Records

Source: Google News

15 Must-Own Releases On Record Store Day 2014
Aquarian Weekly, April 16th

This will be the first United States release for the EP, printed on a 45 rpm 10”. David Bowie, “1984” picture disc; Rhino. “1984” was originally released on Bowie's 1974 album, Diamond Dogs; the song and much of the album was inspired by George Orwell...Read more

There was no money in old TV: Asner
Page Six, April 15th

This 65th anniversary of 1949's 45 RPM single brings Alan Aldridge's “Beatles Illustrated Collective Set.” Every Day Lists A Beatles History Fact. If you're not Beatle'd out, there's five McCartney songs . . . VARIETY'S Power of Women lunch the 25th...Read more

Review: Midtown 'South Pacific' an 'Enchanted Evening'
The Coloradoan, April 15th

I bought the 45 rpm cast album and even saw a revival in New York in 1957, where Juanita Hall, the original Bloody Mary, reprised her role. “Bali Ha'i” will forever be mystical; “This Nearly Was Mine” forever memorable; and “Younger Than Springtime...Read more

Rev Gusto discovers the delights of vinyl in time for Record Store Day
Pitch Weekly, April 15th

Shaun Crowley, Peter Beatty and Sam Frederick have been discussing the band's upcoming 7-inch — a partnership with Too Much Rock Singles Series' Sid Sowder, who chooses a band and pays for a pressing of 500 45 rpm records featuring two songs...Read more

Record Players For Cars Seemed Like A Good Idea In 1956
The Consumerist, April 15th

It held 14 records, which was good for a few hours of music or talk if you bought extended-play 45 RPM discs and wanted to listen to everything in the player. (A 45 RPM record is one of those 7-inch discs that holds maybe one song on each side.) A...Read more

Record players were the infotainment systems of the 1950s and '60s
Fox News, April 14th

The format was chosen because 33? rpm records at 12 inches in diameter were too big for the car and the smaller 45 rpm size didn't play as long. The 7-inch size developed for the "Highway Hi-Fi" fit in the car and played for about an hour per side...Read more

Trivia 45 a test of teams' mettle: Our View
Wausau Daily Herald, April 11th

A gold pendant commemorating this year's Trivia 45 lays across a 45 rpm record, which is the inspiration for this year's Trivia contest. / Contributed photo. ADVERTISEMENT. What comedian was once a member of the soul group Bobby Taylor and the ...Read more

This Week in Boomer History: LBJ Won't Run … Beatles on Top … MLK Killed
AARP News (blog), March 29th

RCA Victor introduces the world's first 45 rpm record on March 31, 1949. Country music star Eddy Arnold's “Texarkana Baby” is on the A side; his “Bouquet of Roses” is on the flip side. The 45 soon becomes the medium of choice for listening to and...Read more