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    

Very Rare Northern Soul/ The Sensations "demanding Man" Stone Mint!!! Way OutHear- The Beatles 45 & Picture Sleeve- Please Please Me- Vee-jay 581- Promo-rareThe Misfits Bullet 45 7" Nm Us Plan9 W/ps Better Dead On Red Vinyl Original Elbie Parker Please Keep Away From Me Northern Promo On Veep Mp3Bongo Herman/super Soul "super Cool" Rare Reggae 45 Sounds By Monk Mp3Very Rare Rockabilly 45/ Jimmy Stayton "hot Hot Mamma" Orig! Clean! HearThe Misfits Horror Business 45 7" Nm Us Plan9 Original W/ps & Insert Signed RareSteve Mancha Friday Night Northern Soul Unused Stock On Groovesville Mp3Herman Hitson Ain't No Other Way Original 45 Sweet Rose M- Funk Soul The Misfits Night Of The Living Dead 45 7" Nm Us Plan9 Pl1011 Original W/ps Al Gardner Sweet Baby Sepia Northern Soul 45 M- Sherri Taylor ~ He's The One That Rings My Bell Northern Soul 45 ~ Gloreco Rare Funk Promo 45/ The Jackson Sisters "i Believe In Miracles" Very Clean HearRare Northern Soul 45/ Jesse Fisher "honey" HearWhite Stripes Live In Mississippi 2x Lp Vinyl #8 Vault Jack Rare Oop Dvd + 45rpmThe Marvelows Your Little Sister Northern Stormer On Abc Mp345rpm Northern Soul Luther Ingram Hib 698Gerry And The Pacemakers Unreleased 1961/2 45 Acetate Merseybeat Hear It !!Super Rare Northern Soul 45 By Ray & The Blue Satins—she Doesn’t Love Me Incredible Kidda Band Everybody Knows Psycho 7" 45rpm Punk Kbd Powerpop ModFrances Faye : Comin' Home Baby (audio Fidelity 125)orig Northern Soul 45 ListenRoosevelt Matthews You Got Me Diggin' You Northern/funk Blue Stock King Mp3Prince Phillip Mitchell I'm So Happy Northern Soul On Atlantic Mp3Northern Soul - Don Ray - Born A LoserHear - Rare R&b / Soul 45 - Little Bob - I Got Loaded - La Louisianne # Ll-8067The Velours I'm Gonna Change Northern Soul Promo On Mgm Mp3Rare Beatles Ep 45 /with Cardboard Cover ~ Mint!!! Original ~ Vee-jay ~beautifulVal Bennett- Hound Dog Special- Rarest Big Shot 45,Rare ( Northern Soul Promo 45 ) September Jones - I'm Coming Home - Kapp - Vg+The Cure Grinding Halt Promo 7" Uk Vinyl 45 Rare Fiction Mint Meat Hook GothNorthern Soul -salvadors - Stick By Me Baby - Wise World - RiBob Marley & Wailers "funeral / Thank You..." Rare Reggae 45 Tuff Gong Blank Mp3The Spinners Sweet Thing / How Can I 45 Dj Demo Uk Tamla Motown 1964 Tmg 514 Los Chijuas *estan Cambiando Los Colores* Psych Garage Freakbeat Mexican 45 ™The Temptations - The Way You Do The Things You Do Northern Soul StatesideAlvis Wayne 45 Westport 140 Kansas City Rockabilly OrigGene Chandler Nothing Can Stop Me / The Big Lie 45 Demo Dj Uk Stateside 1965 Northern Soul 45/ The Profiles "take A Giant Step(walk On)" Very Clean HearNorthern Soul,the Carstairs, It Really Hurts Me GirlA Chant "live And Learn" Rare Reggae 45 Photographer Mp3Georgie Fame: Rhythm & Bluebeat. V. Rare Uk Columbia 1964 4 Track Ep. Mono 45rpmThe Sheppards Stubborn Heart 45 On Mirwood M- Northern Soul HearThe Dynells,call On Me,atco Label,northern Soul 45 RpmMickie Champion - What Good Am I - Rare Orig 1st Press Northern Soul Nm- HearDelroy Wilson/new Establishment "one One/adis" Reggae 45 Blank Mp3Sonny Til & Orioles Hey! Little Woman Northern Soul On Charlie Parker Mp3Psych Funk Sacred Steel 45 - Chester Lewis - Wade In The Water - Vg++ Killer!Nice Lot Of 25 X Punk/post Punk 45's. Flux-crass-anti-pistols-devo-subhumansReddlemen - I'm Gonna Get In That Girl's Mind - Very Rare Texas Killer Garage 45Drifters - Pour Your Little Heart Out - Northern Soul Monster - Demo - Mint Bobby Sheen Something New To Do Wl Promo Northern Soul On Warner Bros. Mp3Johnny Robinson Gone But Not Forgotten Northern Soul Promo On Okeh Mp3Funk Gospel 45 - Swan Silvertones - If You Believe Your God Is Dead - Hob - Mp3100 X 1960's Original Company 45 Record Sleeves. Decca, Columbia, Mgm, Hmv, PyeLittle Carl Carlton - Competition Ain't Nothing 1968 Uk 45 ActionTermites/carl Bryan & Carib Beats "shake It Up" Rare Reggae 45 Blank Mp3Northern Soul R&b Mod 45 Junior Lewis €Young Tyrants - She Don't Got The Right! / I Try - Killer 2 Sider Garage Punk 45Bob Kuban Rare Uk 1966 Demo / Promo / Northern Soul / Great ConditionFreddie Mckay "drunking Sailor" Reggae 45 Money Disc Mp3

Recent News: 45 Records

Source: Google News

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. 1, 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 Awards
Albuquerque 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 revival
Rochester 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', 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 Trinity
Grand 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 greeting
Baltimore 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 Point
PowerSource, 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