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.
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The Music Scene: Popular drummer takes to stage; beloved musician's drum beat ...Louisiana Weekly, October 5th
One could hardly blame Ford, a talented, ambitious 20-year-old, for not turning down the opportunity to record the 45 rpm for Ace in noted producer Cosimo Matassa's studio. Interestingly, until this day, many folks that only heard Ford though never saw...Read more
What Did 'Better' Mean?Gamasutra (blog), October 5th
We owned an educational slide show called "Digging For Dinosaurs" narrated on a 45 r.p.m. vinyl record by Walter Cronkite. When the slide showed a Stegosaurus confronting a T-Rex, the soundtrack used the same excerpt from Stravinsky's The Rite of ...Read more
Mack Williams: Slice of country meadowSalisbury Post, October 3rd
The unusually brilliant colors, along with a similar, almost rebellious opposition to order, made me think of the word “riotous.” (Just now, I'm reminded of a variety box of 45 rpm records my mother bought me in the late 1960s, upon which was printed...Read more
Randall Beach: If you've got 100000 records, you might as well show them to ...New Haven Register, October 3rd
Connecticut Record Club members Joe Avitable, left, of East Haven and Rich Hall of Branford hold Beatles albums outside of the North Haven Congregational Church where the club meets on 9/21/2015. Hall is vice president of the club. Arnold Gold — New ...Read more
Busted Wrench in Gulfport is a classic car lover's dreamSunHerald.com, October 2nd
It's something most of them probably have never seen," Hans said, noting children's fascination as a 45-rpm record is mechanically placed on the turntable. A pinball machine, also for free use, is another trip to decades back. Guests have come to the...Read more
Flipping through the '50sDubuque Telegraph Herald, October 1st
It was the decade of "I like Ike," drive-in movie theaters, 45 RPM records, the Korean War, Hopalong Cassidy, polio, Elvis and McCarthyism. It also was a decade of great change and is the subject of an upcoming book from TH Media, "The '50s Vol. 1...Read more
Tales from the Upper Deck, chapter 2Lumina News, September 30th
Lane and bartender Steve Wright would go down to a record store called Cape Fear Music and sit on the floor for hours, sifting through stacks of 45-rpm vinyl records to gather a good selection for the bar. Despite mellow beach music being the genre of...Read more
Bob Dylan to release Like a Rolling Stone outtakes discBBC News, September 30th
Rolling Stone Magazine later named it the greatest song of all time. The disc of outtakes will feature on a new box set, The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 12. A 379-track collection across 18 CDs, nine mono 45 RPM singles it includes...Read more