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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Pop composer Berns is finally getting his due
Arkansas Online (subscription), July 24th

Even in his mid-1960s heyday, Bert Berns was barely known beyond the obsessives who studied songwriters' and producers' credits on 45 rpm records and LP album jackets. And then, after his death in 1967 at the age of 38, something truly odd happened: ...Read more

A Q&A with Glittercore
Arkansas Times, July 23rd

We asked Ardent to print the CD to "look like a 45 RPM vinyl record" (yes, this was before Pearl Jam did it). We thought it would be clever to put a sound effect of a needle going on and off the record at the beginning and end of the CD. However...Read more

'Wild Style' Breakbeats Being Released for First Time Ever as Seven-Record 45 ...
Music Times, July 23rd

Each of the thirteen tracks gets its own side of a 45-rpm record, and the 14th side features an engraving themed to the film. The set also comes with a 28-page book featuring photos from the production of the film and a history of the production...Read more

The Hollies: Greatest + Singles 1 and 2
PopMatters, July 22nd

Most English people bought “I'm Alive” as a 45 rpm record—it did hit number one—while most Americans probably heard it on the album Hear! Here!, which was originally a mono release. The mono version is heavy on reverb and atmospherics. Despite the ...Read more

Peter, Paul And Mary – In The Wind [TrackList follows] – Warner Brothers/ ORG ...
Audiophile Audition, July 21st

Original Recording Group's 45-rpm re-mastering of In The Wind is superb. The pristine clarity, stereo separation and tonal warmth exceed standard CD quality. The album's back cover features the stream-of-consciousness liner notes by Dylan and photos of ...Read more

Spoon's Britt Daniel Chased by Eerie Force in 'Do You' Video
RollingStone.com, July 21st

In the meantime, fans who pre-order a vinyl copy of the LP (through Spoon's Vinyl Gratification campaign) will instantly receive a limited-edition 45 rpm 10-inch – featuring album cuts "Do You," "Rent I Pay" and "Inside Out" – from a participating...Read more

Do You Remember July 20?
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, July 19th

• Volunteers at the Canal Fest booth sponsored by St. Peter's United Church of Christ were selling two fried Oreos for $3. • The Tonawanda Free Methodist Church held Biker Church on Monday evenings. The Rev. Donald Mohr held a condensed church ...Read more

Peter, Paul And Mary – Peter, Paul And Mary – Warner Brothers/ ORG (45 rpm ...
Audiophile Audition, July 18th

Original Recordings Group has re-mastered their self-titled debut to 45-rpm audiophile vinyl. The well-crafted arrangements and vocal prowess are on full display. Side A opens with a jaunty Stookey composition (“Early In The Morning”). The connection...Read more