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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Why was Miss Gibbs dubbed with 'Nibs'?Loveland Reporter-Herald, February 1st
My 45 rpm collection included "Dance with Me Henry" and its playing induces my mind back to the simpler 1950s when we played and danced to those little records. • Because of the "Blue Laws" professional baseball did not start scheduling games on ...Read more
Today in Music History - Feb. 1mysask.com, January 31st
In 1949, RCA Victor introduced the 45 rpm record. It was designed as a rival to Columbia's 33 1/3 rpm long-playing disc, introduced the previous year. The two systems directly competed with each other to replace 78 rpm records, bewildering consumers...Read more
Mini movies nominated for Academy AwardsAlbuquerque Journal, January 31st
“A Single Life” (Netherlands, 2 minutes, directed by Marieke Blaauw, Joris Oprins and Job Roggeveen): Upon discovering a mysterious old 45 rpm single record, Pia plays it and finds herself able to travel back and forth through her life, depending on...Read more
Joining the vinyl revivalRochester Democrat and Chronicle, January 31st
Frazzled, I adjusted the settings from the 45 rpm speed to 331/3 rpms to fix the distorted sound, but by then it was clear something was very wrong. Why did my record hang way over this awkwardly small platter? I turned to the all-knowing Google to...Read more
Recent obsessions: 'A Single Life'Madison.com, January 31st
It runs under three minutes, and the idea is that a woman finds a 45 R.P.M. single that seems to control her life -- move the needle to earlier in the song, and she becomes her younger self. It's funny, fast, and a good reminder to get the most out of...Read more
Sock hop concludes Lutheran Schools Week at TrinityGrand Island Independent, January 30th
First-graders Laura Blake, center, and Myah Jensen dance together along with second-grader Yadira Ojeda-Gonzalez, far left, during a sock hop Friday afternoon at Trinity Lutheran School in Grand Island. The dance marked the end of Lutheran Schools ...Read more
With new governor, Maryland gets new, cheesy greetingBaltimore Sun, January 30th
They recorded their impressive version of "Old Ship of Zion" in the early 1970s to have 45-rpm copies of the song for sale when they performed. According to Tom Contee, one of the original Wonders, the group raised enough money to purchase matching ...Read more
And to the PointPowerSource, January 29th
That's what happens in “A Single Life,” directed by Marieke Blaauw, Joris Oprins and Job Roggeveen, in which a 45 rpm record of the title song sends a woman skipping forward and backward through the milestones of her existence. The movie winks at ...Read more