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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Recent News: 45 Records
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Playlist: What's Brian Mansfield listening to?USA TODAY, September 1st
It's no surprise Setzer prefers 45 rpm to digital download. He makes a convincing case with this rockabilly rave-up. Dr. Feelgood, The Mavericks Mötley Crüe's "rat-tailed Jimmy'' character moves deeper into the barrio, gaining a noirish cumbia edge...Read more
'One big happy family': Square dance teacher, caller drawn to camaraderieGreenfield Daily Reporter, August 31st
A lot of square dance callers have the music they like to call to recorded in MP3 format, but Davenport says he is "old school" and prefers to play 45 rpm records when calling square dances. "They still make 45s believe it or not," he said. Square...Read more
Tavi Gevinson: Not so afraid of ambitionCBS News, August 31st
Tavi Gevinson isn't a household name -- yet. But she's well on her way. We'll let Anthony Mason make the introductions: She showed her guest the house she has been in "my entire life." In her entire life -- all 18 years of it -- Tavi Gevinson has...Read more
Celebrating Grandparents DayWalton Tribune, August 30th
Refreshments are cookies, iced or hot tea or lemonade. Table decorations are collections of things used in the grandparents' younger days but no longer available. Suggestions are 45 rpm records, long play records, an old box camera, a typewriter eraser ...Read more
Turtles Hits Get Boxed in New Vinyl Singles CollectionWFJA Classic Hits and Oldies 105.5 FM, August 30th
The music of the legendary 1960s pop-rock group The Turtles will be celebrated with a special box set featuring a series of 7-inch vinyl discs boasting the band's biggest hits. The Turtles 45 RPM Vinyl Singles Collection, which will be released on...Read more
First Look: BSide Brings Fried Chicken and Community to City ParkWestword (blog), August 29th
Way back when record companies issued 45 rpm records in advance of a full album release, those little black discs had two sides; the A-side was the radio-friendly song that the producer hoped would become a hit. Songs on the B-side, however, weren't ...Read more
Thursday Night Music: 45 RPM Records and a Yogurt Shop Hosts a Noise ShowD Magazine, August 21st
First things first: There is a Town Hall Arts Budget Meeting at Dallas City Performance Hall tonight. According to the DMN's Rudy Bush, the bulk of the allotted funding “now goes to facility upkeep in places like the Arts District instead of paying...Read more
Why almost every Top 40 song is between 3 and 5 minutes longVox, August 18th
In 1949, RCA introduced a 45 rpm disk that quickly overtook the 78 and made it obsolete. These 45s were better than 78s in numerous ways. They were made of vinyl instead of shellac, which made them more durable and more easily portable. They were ...Read more