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    

Original Mint Northern Soul 45~majestics~i Love Her So Much It/girl Of My~listenThe Salvadors - Stick By Me, Baby - Wise World 301 Northern SoulRockabilly 45 Elvis On Sun Records 209, 210, 215, 217, 223, 78 Rpm SetR&b Soul 45 - Mary Ann Fisher - Put On My Shoes - Fire - Mp3The Sabres 45 Kat My Hot Mama Rare Rockabilly Monster Listen Very Rare" George Blackwell..can`t Lose My Head.usa Smoke Re-issue Northern 7"Hear - Rare Northern Soul 45 - Buddy Ace - Screaming Please - Duke # 346Tommy Neal - Goin’ To A Happening! 1968 Orig Uk Vocalion Northern Soul!Get Out Northern Soul Harold Melvin Original Ex Cond Best Ever SaleRockabilly 45 - Jett Powers - Go, Girl, Go - Design - Mp3Eloise Laws "love Factory" Us Music Merchant Promo 1973: Northern Soul Classic!The Who - My Generation 1965 Uk 45 Brunswick Demo ModNorthern Soul Huge Classic- Original Uk - Johnny Wyatt - This Thing Called LoveGarage 45 - Groupies - Hog - Atco - Mp3Disciples Of Soul 45 Phantom That's The Way Love Goes Rare Northern Soul ListenLee Andrews & Hearts On Riviera --baby Come Back--doo Wop 45 | Orig--red Vinyl--Carry Case Full Of 45s Garage Surf Rockers Teen Soul Mod Girl Group Doo-wopBlues 45 - John Lee Hooker - Money - Impulse! - Mp3R&b 45 - Alberta Adams - This Morning - Chess - Mp3Madonna Hung Up/sorry Picture Disc 45 Rare Uk 7 Vinyl Single Pic DiskBuddy Ace: Screaming Please Northern Soul, Mod, PopcornJulien Covey - A Little Bit Hurt 7'' 1967 Uk Northern Soul Freakbeat Mod DancerEdwin Starr..time/ Running Back And...gordy Northern Soul TamlaThe Tartans - Coming On Strong - Caltone - Rare Uk Rocksteady 45 Ex/ex- ListenIsland Funk Bomb Mavis John Use My Body Kalinda 45 Listen ! Carib Soul BoogieDoo-wop 45 - 5 Willows - The White Cliffs Of Dover - Allen - Mp3 - Rare!Art Guy ~ Where You Gonna Go Promo ~ Valiant Records V-762 ~ Rare Garage 45Almighty Stones Penetrate Hot Stuff 45 Killer Ja Og Roots Reggae Super Rare!!!R&b Rockabilly 45 - Calvin & Clarence - Money & Women - Fairlane - Mp3 - Rare!Modern Soul Funk Boogie 45 J.j. Johnson 'ooh Baby' Rrs Records Listen Rockabilly 45 - Benny Ingram's Sidewinders - Sidewinder - Bandera - Mp3Sweet Savage 1981 Park Records Nwobhm P/s 45 Take No PrisonersNorthern Soul The Carstairs - It Really Hurts Me Girl - Red Coach White PromoBuddy Holly Listen To Me Ep 45 Coral Records Ec 81169 Rare 1958 OriginalRed Beans And Rice - That Driving Beat! 1980 Chiswick Orig Uk Northern Soul Ex!Paul Mccartney & Wings - Beatles - Jet Rare Swedish Nude Ps 45 1973The Newports "dixie Women" Kent 380 Mega Rare Northern Soul 45Reuben Bell-1967 Promo-deep Soul-7"45 Rpm-humin A Sad Song/it's Not That EasyBrief Encounter.what About Love Capitol..northern Soul Crossover Black Sabbath Lot Of 27 Lps 45 Cd Ozzy Picture Disc Walpurgis 3 Sealed AttentionRichie Allen 45 Era Goochy Bamba Rare Exotica Tittyshaker Surf Rock ListenKiss 8 Lp Lot W Alive Tour T-shirt, Alive Iii Cd & 6 - 45s (w Detroit Rock City)Rare Funk Soul 45 Soul Superiors Sherman Willis 'let's Do It' Rhythm Records Mp3Mamie Van Doren Untamed Youth 45 Ep Prep 1957 Orig. Eddie Cochran Top Copy! NmThe Beatles Rare Vee-jay Reords We Wish You A Merry Christmas Promo 45 SleeveAl Gardner.sweet Baby.googa Mooga French.northern Soul Northern Soul Soul Brothers Six I'll Be Loving You Us Atlantic 2406 ** Listen **Beatles - All Together Now / Hey Bulldog - Rare Swedish Ps 45 Swe 1969Larry Blue Notes Night Phantom Tiris Orig Us G45 Garage Punk 7" 45 Nm HearR&b Rocker 45 - Bees - Tough Enough - Finch - Mp3Rare Rockabilly Acetate 45 Clayton Watson" Everybody's Boppin' Outtake Auto.1958Morrissey My Love Life 7" 45 Rpm Hmv Pop Dj Retro Sleeve Promo Vinyl SingleElvis Presley Rare Save-on Records Promo Ep 45 Rca-victor Spa-7-27 Gonna SitGarage/r&b Mod Inst. 45 - Go Go & Spotlights - Piggy Hog - Edmac - Mp3 -obscure!Undocumented Pressing Soul 45 Little Gigi Take The Bitter With The SweetMaxine Brown One Step At A Time Quality Rarer Northern Soul 45The Zombies Rod Argent 1964 Uk=rare 4 Track Ep. Beat Group 45rpm Mod 7"Tamla Motown Presents 20 Mod Classics ~ V/a Lp ** Northern Soul Demo CopySoul Cats - Your Sweet Love / Keep It Moving Orig 1969 Camel 45 Skinhead ReggaeBlues 45 - Frank Ervin - I Got Hi - Combo - Mp3 - Obscure!

Recent News: 45 Records

Source: Google News

Modest Mouse Announces Strangers To Ourselves, First New Album In Eight ...
KpopStarz, December 19th

The song will be available for purchase tomorrow, Tuesday, December 16," the note that accompanied the 45 rpm single said. "'Lampshades on Fire' is the first single from our new album Strangers to Ourselves, which will be released on Tuesday, March 3, ...Read more

'Jingle Bell Rocks' documentary uncovers Christmas musical oddities
Chicago Tribune, December 18th

(The opening credits, by the way, are especially witty, depicting a series of spinning 45-rpm records.) "There are 32 songs in the film, and you'd think, some of them are so obscure, they must be owned by some tiny label, and they're not going to...Read more

A mouthful of soap and no supper
Courier-Gazette & Camden Herald, December 18th

It was a bold purchase, increasing our collection of Christmas records by 33 percent, and our collection of Christmas albums by 100 percent. (One of our two other Christmas records was a 45 rpm featuring the Korean Orphan Boys Choir singing “Angels...Read more

Jack White's top-selling 'Lazaretto' unique in every way
San Francisco Examiner, December 18th

On Side B, the label trick is done again, but the music can be heard only at 45 rpm. Combined with the record's 33 rpm playing speed, "Lazaretto" uses three different speeds. On top of that, a hologram is next to the label. An angel dances as the music...Read more

'Twas the Night Before Christmas … 1978
Radio World, December 17th

Next to him were the shoeboxes with the “singles,” the 45 rpm records. One box had the top 10 or so, the other had the rest of the top 40. In front or him was the “clock,” a hand drawn illustration which told him which category of songs to play during...Read more

Premiere: Jack White band singer-fiddler Lillie Mae Rische's 'Nobody's'
Los Angeles Times, December 17th

Eyes," with members of the group who backed her: steel guitarist Carl Broemel from My Morning Jacket, bassists Jack Lawrence and Dominic Davis and drummer Whip Triplet. It's part of the "Blue Series" of vintage-style 45 rpm releases from Third Man...Read more

Rockford Rocked Interviews: A chat with Rockford native Larry Merryman of ...
The Rock River Times, December 16th

It was an old MGM Records 45 rpm called Purple People Eater by Sheb Wooley. How's that for different musical taste? RRI: What was the music scene like here in Rockford in the '60s? LM: When I started playing in a band back in the '60s, the Rockford...Read more

Naperville record store revives vinyl vibe
Chicago Tribune, December 14th

The shop also carries some new albums, 45-rpm disks, CDs, DVDs, t-shirts and drawers of MAD magazines.. Sicker waxed nostalgic as he cued up Jefferson Airplane's 'Surrealistic Pillow' album on a vintage one-speaker record player. "I remember going to ...Read more