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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Stream The Week
Willamette Week (blog), October 22nd

Tonight, he releases his first-ever 45 RPM single, "The Dogs," featuring R.E.M.'s Peter Buck. Star Theater. 8 pm. $8. 21+. Cappella Romana. [SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHORAL] Portland's Cappella Romana, just back from a triumphant performance at the ...Read more

Morris looks for a record player
Franklin News Post, October 22nd

Mrs. Parks has another 45 rpm record, also on the Double Records label, that includes two songs sung and written by her late husband. "Bob Graves" is listed as the vocalist with the songwriting credit is given to J.R. Graves. Side 1 of the record...Read more

Vanessa Fernandez – Use Me [TrackList follows] – Groove Note – 45 rpm 2 vinyls
Audiophile Audition, October 19th

Groove Note Records has released Fernandez's debut, Use Me on a very high-end two-disc 45 rpm 180-gram audiophile vinyl. Covering an assortment of high-profiled soul composers, a top-notch ensemble of studio musicians contribute to a well-crafted, ...Read more

The mystery of soul singer Junior McCants, October 18th

McCants apparently only recorded four songs total, since a 45-rpm vinyl single has two sides. He died on July 11, 1967, before the second two-sided single, “Try Me For Your New Love”/“She Wrote It, I Read It,” could be issued as anything more than a ...Read more

What's next for Ypsilanti Township's decaying Gault Village Shopping Plaza?
The Ann Arbor News, October 18th

Gault Village neighborhood resident Steve Stencel has fond early memories of visiting the Gault Village Shopping Plaza. It was the late 1960s, when he would save his pennies to buy the latest 45 r.p.m. record or 25-cent candy bar at Grant's, which...Read more

Jeff Buckley – Grace – Columbia Records (1994)/ Original Recordings Group ...
Audiophile Audition, October 15th

ORG has re-mastered Buckley's seminal Grace to audiophile 45 rpm vinyl. It epitomizes alternative rock with a broad spectrum of musical influences. Side A opens (“Mojo Pin”) with a gently swirling guitar. Soon Buckley's high register tenor joins in a...Read more

Win a Copy of the Turtles' '45 RPM Vinyl Singles Collection'
Ultimate Classic Rock, October 6th

Here's your chance to grab the Turtles' best-known songs in a new box set, 'The Turtles 45 RPM Vinyl Singles Collection,' courtesy of Ultimate Classic Rock and FloEdCo/Manifesto Records. The Turtles were one of the '60s' most popular groups, blending a ...Read more

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Turtles founders Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan – later known as Flo and Eddie when a contract dispute prevented them from using The Turtles name – are about to release The Turtles 45 RPM Vinyl Singles Collection which includes their top hits on eight ...Read more