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    

Pink Floyd On Tower ~ See Emily Play Us Picture Sleeve Promo 45 ~ Superb!Sammy Ambrose Welcome To Dreamsville 45 Musicor Northern Soul Vg+ Plays Well!Rare Northern Soul-gloria Jones On Uptown 732-dj Copy-come Go With Me - ListenMaurice Williams Being Without-usa Orig Deesu (nashville Matrix)-northern SoulStranglers Peaches Blackmail 7" Red Vinyl Rare Punk 45 Uk Radio Promo DemoRare Modern Soul 45-lucy Stone-giving Love Instead Of Gold-fire Mountain HearThe Ambassadors Northern Soul Funk 45 Ain't Got The Love Of One Girl ~ Arctic DjFaine Jade It Ain't True 45 Providence Garage Punk 60s Killer Fuzz Vg+ Promo Rare Northern Soul Funk 45 Sir Henry Ivy 'he Left You Standing There' HearLink Wray Ain't That Lovin You Babe 45 Epic Promo Rockabilly Garage Vg+ Great!Northern Soul 45 Willie Kendrick Change Your Ways Rca 9212 Promo Mint- Hear Mp3Beatles Rare Misspelled Error Beattles Original 45 Please Me/ Ask Why Vj 4987John Lennon Mind Games 45 Apple Promo Beatles Vg++ Mono / StereoThird Guitar Baby Don't Cry Rare Funk 45 On RojacExcellent 1958 Rock/bopper 45 E.p. - Johnny Cash "home Of The Blues" Sun #116Pink Floyd On Columbia ~ Arnold Layne Picture Sleeve 45 ~ Holland ~ Rare!The Pink Finks 'louie Louie'/'got Love If You Want It'oz Garage Beat R&b Mojo 45Jackie Mittoo Soul Vendors Happy Organ / Soulful Music Coxsone 45 Northern Soul, The Topics, Hey Girl, Chadwick 102 Dj, Ultra Rare - Hear BothOne In A Million - Use Your Imagination 45 Demo Cbs Psych FreakbeatMusic Record"i Say, I Love You" Johnny Watson, 1964, King 5833, 45 Rpm, VinylTim Maia E Coro Racional - Rare Funk Samba Soul 1975 Seroma Brazil Ep 7" 45 HearThe Talismen : She Was Good (julian 105) Orig. Nw Mod Garage Punk 45 HearRolling Stones 45 Not Fade Away B/w I Wanna Be Your Man London Promo BeatlesRare Wild 1960 Rockabilly Garage Original 45 The Phantom Love Me Dot Cramps HearPink Floyd On Tower ~ See Emily Play ~ Us Store Stock 45 ~ Superb!Lou Roberts You Fooled Me Mgm Wigan Casino Northern Soul 45The Chessmen 1966 You Can't Catch Me 45 Rare Fuzz Garage Teenage Shutdown #7 NmNorthern Soul 45 Andrea Henry I Need You Like A Baby Mgm 13893 Promo M- Hear Mp3Northern Soul - The Masqueraders On La BeatBob Williams I'm Alright Nad-lyn Private Modern Soul Funk Very Rare 45 Listen! Roy Roberts Got To Have Your Love Northern Soul 45 On NinandyNorthern Haze Very Rare Inuit Lp Hard Heavy Rock / Metal Original Press On Cbc!Beatle Vj 498 Promo 45 Please Please Me Nm- Vinyl Great Shape!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Pink Floyd On Tower ~ Arnold Layne ~ Us Store Stock 45 ~ Excellent!Winfield Parker Funk Soul 45 Shake That Thing / Brand New Start ~ Arctic Dj Vg++Michael Don Let Us Co-operate Digi Killer Harmodio Mega Rare 45! Listen! The Others 'dancing Girl'/'sharade Blues' Oz 60s Garage Beat R&b Killer!leedon45Pink Floyd On Columbia ~ It Would Be So Nice ~ Demonstration 45 ~ Uk ~ RareHear Vid Rare 45 The Swinging Machine S.p.q.r. Norfolk Virginia 66 Garage Psych Executive Force Modern Soul Boogie 45 Drop That Body / Let Me Show ~ New Age Ex Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes 45 Dj/promo Landa: Get Out/you May Not Love MeNew Holidays Northern Soul Xover 45 Maybe So Maybe No ~ SoulhawkNorthern Soul 45-carl Carlton-i Can Feel It/youve Got So Much-back Beat Vg+ HearBobby Sheen 70s Northern Soul 45 Something New To Do ~ Warner Brothers Rcavictor Spd-23 - Elvis Presley - Scarce Three Ep Set - Rock & Roll 45rpmWe The People-45-burn Me Up &down-monster & Holy Grail 1967 Florida Garage-punk Wade Flemons Jeanette Sevens Hank Jacobs Northern Soul Vinyl 45 Record SingleNeville Blythe Prophesy Must Be Fulfilled Killer Roots Reggae 45 Rare!!Aaron Neville Hercules Funk Breaks 45 On MercuryInspired Children Dennis Robin Copy Taker Digi Killer Rare 45! Pink Floyd On Columbia ~ See Emily Play ~ Picture Sleeve 45 ~ France ~ Nice!Alton Ellis Hey World / Harder & Harder Banana Uk 1971 45 Rare ReggaePink Floyd On Harvest ~ Nile Song ~ Picture Sleeve 45 ~ France ~ Excellent!Tony Alvon & The Belairs 45 Sexy Coffee Pot Promo Funk Soul Open Drum BreaksSharon Scott Putting My Heart Under Lock & Key Northern Soul Lorraine Chandler You Only Live Twice Northern Soul Marlena Shaw California Soul / Eyes Of Love ~ Cadet Soul Jazz Funk 45 Northern Soul 45 Clydie King Soft And Gentle Ways Imperial 66172 Promo Hear Mp3Black Sabbath Lot Of 15 Lps 45 Cd 6 Picture Discs Ozzy Blizzard Import Tourbook

Recent News: 45 Records

Source: Google News

Makin' it better: Missoula woman carries on sister's dressmaking tradition
The Missoulian, November 30th

The children have no way of knowing the story of the passion and compassion that went into them in Montana – and the 45-rpm records that supplied the backbeat. Blain used to greet her sister with a cheery “Hey, Judes.” That has become the official name...Read more

Using Key Value Factors to Evaluate Vinyl Records, November 30th

The most common are the 33?, the 78, and the 45 rpm (rotations per minute). They can also be described by dimensions, such as 12-inch, 10-inch, and 7-inch being the most common; their time capacity, such as LP for “long playing”, a “single” and an EP, ...Read more

Turning the tables in generation gap
The Herald Bulletin, November 30th

a tool that allows computer users to communicate with each other by sharing email, or electronic mail, pictures (these used to be recorded on Kodak film and developed at drugstores), music (which used to come in 78 rpm, 45 rpm and larger record...Read more

The Vinyl Staircase: November In Record Buying Misery By John Doran
The Quietus, November 30th

These reissues - the first four self-titled solo albums plus the two German language versions (but not the Plays Live LP for some reason) - have been remastered at half-speed and cut to two laquers for 45 RPM playback, capturing a very large dynamic range...Read more

Singing the Sixties: New record compilation was a long time coming
The Missoulian, November 28th

It was a 45-rpm record – small vinyl platter with big hole in the middle – recorded in 1967 in a Butte studio by the Missoula band “The Initial Shock.” On the A-side is a song called “You've Been a Long Time Comin.' ” So derived the name of the project...Read more

Things to Do on Long Island, Nov. 27 to Dec. 6, 2015
New York Times, November 27th

45 RPM and Milagro, a Santana tribute show. Dec. 4 at 8 p.m. $10. Mulcahy's Pub and Concert Hall, 3232 Railroad Avenue. 516-783-7500; Advertisement. Continue reading the main story. WESTHAMPTON BEACH Hot Tuna, blues and rock. Dec...Read more

Fats, the Count and Christian in the spotlight
Louisiana Weekly, November 23rd

The-Fat-Man-45-rpm-112315 “The Fat Man” was pianist and vocalist Domino's debut record yet it already stood complete with what would become his and producer/composer Bartholomew's musical signatures. Its beauty is in its simplicity with Domino's ...Read more

Meet the Alabama radio deejay who's spun only vinyl on his weekly show for 25 ..., November 3rd

Labbe plays only 45 rpm, 7-inch vinyl records on "Reelin' in the Years," airing live 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays on Huntsville station WLRH 89.3 FM. "That's what my show's all about, the era of the 45 rpm record," Labbe says. "Basically, popular music...Read more