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]

Mybeatles.net

Mybeatles.net

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]

317X

317X

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    

Northern Soul 45 Sam Ward Sister Lee Groove City Hear Northern Soul 45 Herb Ward Strange Change Argo Promo Hear Northern Soul 45 Rubin You've Been Away Kapp Promo Hear Northern Soul 45 By The Sequins Hear ClipNorthern Soul 45 Bobby Reed The Time Is Right For Love Bell Hear Hunger! Mind Machine 45 Public Fuzz Psych Garage Vg+ Plays Well PromoNorthern Soul 45 Younghearts Little Togetherness Canterbury Promo Hear Northern Soul 45 Father's Angels Bok To Bach Mgm Uk Hear Baby Earl Trinidads Back Slop 45 Spqr Ska-like Tittyshaker Vg++ CleanR&b Soul Popcorn/blues 45 "sugar Boy" Williams Little Girl Herald Hear Northern/sweet Soul 45 Rock Candy Alone With No Love Dontee Hear Alexander Patton - A Lil Lovin' Sometimes! Capitol Uk Orig Demo Northern Soul NmRay Pollard - The Drifter! 1965 United Artists Up 1111 Rare Uk Northern Soul Nm!Northern Soul 45 Velvet Satins Nothing Can Compare To You General America Hear Northern Soul Funk 45 Zodiacs Don't Change On Me Crs Nm Hear Northern Soul 45 Carol Woods & Executives Heart Breaker Perfecto 7 Hear Northern Soul 45 Volumes I Just Can't Help Myself American Arts Hear Sharon Marie Story Of My Life 45 Capitol 60s Pop Brian Wilson Vg++ Clean!Thai Funk Insanity 45 Pathom Nobporn & Saeree Seemuangtai Thailand Hear Mp3Leroy Ace Miller Try Me/spell 1983 Marina Sound 45, Ultra Rare Modern Soul FunkNorthern Soul 45 Johnny Wyatt This Thing Called Love Bronco Vg+ Hear Miss Cathy Brasher Too Late To Be Lovers 45 Era Northern Soul Vg++ Nice Promo70s Hard Rock Obscurities Lot Of 10 45s Vg++ PromosR&b Soul Popcorn 45 Jimmy Ricks Bad Man Of Missouri Baton Promo Hear Northern Soul 45 Volumes That Same Old Feeling Impact Hear Deep/northern Soul 45 Wendy Rene After Laughter Stax Hear Northern Soul 45 Barbara Mcnair You're Gonna Love My Baby Motown Vg+ Promo Hear Northern Soul 45 Jackie Wilson Because Of You Brunswick Promo Hear Ray Charles - I Don't Need No Doctor! 1966 Columbia Uk Northern Soul Promo Ex!Mega Rare Latin Funk Breaks 45 Augustine Ramirez Let A Woman Be A Woman Hear Mp3The Nubs, I Don't Need You/dogs - Orig. 1979 Punk/garage 45 7" Rarity - MintHelen Shapiro - She Needs Company! 1967 Columbia Db 8256 Uk Northern Soul Nm!1966 Corpus Christi,texas Monster Garage 45-bad Seeds-i'm A King Bee-j Beck 1002Northern Soul 45 Ila Van Can't Help Loving That Man Of Mine Roulette Hear Wayne Gibson - Under My Thumb! 1966 Columbia Db 7911 Rare Uk Northern Soul Ex+!Northern Soul 45 Wall Of Sound Hang On Tower Vg++ Hear The Newports Dixie Women 45 Rpm Kent 380 Mega Rare Northern Soul Popcorn Hear!Ronnie And Robyn~1967 Orig. Sidra~wlp~extremely Rare 45~7" 45rpm~northern Soul~mLot Of 70+ Vinyl 45s 7" Pop Rock Oldies Collection Buddy Holly, Little Richard++Northern Soul 45 Paul Vann One Track Mind Chance Hear Liket Lever Levande Begravd / Hjärtats Slag 45 7" 1979 Sista Bussen Ex- Punk KbdNorthern Soul 45 Volumes Maintain Your Cool Twirl Hear Ice 9 Out Out Out /revolting Mess / 27.3 45 7" 1979 Us Coolrecords Count VertigoThe Impressions - Can't Satisfy! 1966 Hmv Pop 1545 Uk Northern Soul Demo Ex+!And Justice For All - Metallica Rare Warner 4lp 45rpm Test Pressing 2008 Sealed!Northern Soul 45 Ethics I Want My Baby Back Vent Hear Northern Soul. The Penetrations "champagne" B/w "sweet, Sweet Baby" On Teri DeThe O'jays - I Dig Your Act! 1966 Stateside Ss 2073 Orig Uk Northern Soul Ex+!The Pioneers 45 No Dope Mi Pony B/w Run Come Walla Amalgamated Label Reggae #68 Northern Soul 45 Oscar Wright Leave Me Alone Fairmount Promo Hear Northern Soul 45 Johnny Guitar Watson Ain't Gonna Move Jowat Hear Pearl Jam Save Me 7" Clear Vinyl 45 Numbered Uk Rare 2002 Other Side EpicNorthern Soul 45 Velvelettes These Things Will Keep Me Loving You Soul Hear Bob Kuban & In-men -the Cheater! 1966 Stateside Ss 488 Demo Northern Soul Ex+!Lot (45) 1970's-80's Rock/prog/psych 12"/33 Vinyl Record Pink Floyd/kiss/doors Northern Soul Justin Right Now Down East Rockabilly 45~bob Doss - Don't Be Gone Long / Somebody's Knocking (starday) Mp3Burning Bush - Keeps On Burning (m-) Northern Soul 45 With Psych Flip - HearNorthern/deep Soul 45 Webs Give In Popside Hear Original Very Rare Northern Soul - Miss D D Phillips Hey Little Girl - Evolution