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    

Dappa Smith China Doll 45 Peach Wild Piano Rockabilly Vg+ Rare HearBeatles Lot Of 5 45s Capitol Jukebox Only Color Vinyl Vg++ Ac/dc Can I Sit Next To You Girl Rare Original 7" Australia 45 Metal Vanda YoungBlack Aces Of Soul Let's Get On Down Rare Northern Soul 45 Funk In-demand BangerLenny Curtis Nothing Can Help You Now **listen** Northern Soul Original End King George & Fabulous Souls Rare Northern Soul 45 Audio Arts #60019 I Need YouLee Moses She's A Bad Girl Great Northern Soul Dancer Crossover 45 Dan Penn HearLinda Jones - I Just Can't Live My Life (without You Babe) - Northern - WarnerN Betweens You Better Run Uk 45 Garage Kim Fowley Pre Ambrose Slade In-be-tweens» Northern Soul 45 - Lada Edmund Jr. The Larue Decca Rare Hear♚ Mvp's 'turning My Heartbeat Up' In-demand Wigan Oldie Nm Northern Soul 45 HearThe Zipps - Don't Tell The Detectives / Friends - Uk 1979 Rip Off 45 - KbdWild Honey I've Been Working Mega Rare Northern Soul 45 Funk P&p Sweet Soul HearCharades I Don't Want To Lose You Rare Northern Soul 45 Stomper Sweet Soul Hear!Beatles Love Me Do - Ps I Love You 7" Uk 1962 1st Press Red Parlophone 45-r 494960s/northern Soul 45 Eddie Foster - I Never Knew/i Will Wait In Records Rare Mp3Pearl Jam Man Of The Hour 7" Acoustic 45 Ep Blue Vinyl 7 Numbered Rare Uk60s Reggae Kingstonians Sufferer 1968 Uk Trojan Big Shot 7" Vinyl 45Visions Of A New World We Make It *rare* Modern Soul 45 Northern Disco Boogie M-» Northern Soul 45 - Shane Martin I Need You Epic Rare Wlp HearBilly Davis Stanky Get Funk Cobblestone Northern Soul Stomper Oldie OriginalCresa Watson You're No Good Unknown Northern Soul 45 *mega Rare* Funk Deep SoulRare Northern Soul - Anne Heywood - Crook His Little Finger - Us Hondo Vg++Jean Austin Don't Have To Worry Mega Rare Northern Soul 45 Gospel Funk Listen!Buck Trail Knocked Out Joint On Mars/ Blues Keep 45 Rare Rockabilly Trail 104Manzel - Space Funk / Jump Street - Original Breaks 4560s Northern Soul - The Casualeers - Dance, Dance, Dance - Us Roulette Vg+Led Zeppelin-1969 45 Rpm 7" Wlp Promo Ep Picture Sleeve-atlantic Ep 1019-nm-rareMark Williams A House For Sale Mega Rare Northern Soul 45 Version Millie JacksonEnergettics You Make Me Nothing Rare *original* Us 45 Modern Northern Soul Funk» Northern Soul 45 - Harvey Scales Trackdown Magic Touch Rare HearMill Evans When I'm Ready Mega Rare Northern Soul 45 Funk Stunning Cond Listen! Mickey Lee Lane-hey Sah-lo-ney 7" Single 1965 Stateside Ss 456 Northern SoulGnats-45-dynamite 1966 Ft. Worth Texas Garage-punkPromo Northern Soul 45 Alice Clark On Gwp 7270 Vg+Lou Roberts You Fooled Me Mgm Wigan Casino Northern Soul 45Ed Summers I Can Tell Rare Modern Soul 45 Superb! Joe Anderson Northern Listen!60s Northern Soul - Jackie Trent - You Baby/send Her Away - Uk Pye Promo ExThe Rolling Stones Lot Of 38 Lps 45 Satanic Majesties 3d Mono 4 Exile 1 W/ Card» Funk 45 - Key And Cleary A Man Mark Custom Private Rare Soul Grail HearPaul Freeman - Great Tribulation Mega Rare 1975 Micron Roots 45 Ex-!!Afi All Hallow's Ep Rare 7" 45 Orange Vinyl Nitro 1999 1st EditionNorthern Soul 45 By Gerri Granger Rare Stock Copy (practically) Stone Mint !Renegades Thirteen Women Monstrous Mod Dancer Garage 45 Freakbeat Sweden 45 HearShel Naylor - One Fine Day Original 1964 Decca 7" 45 VgFlowers For Real 7" La Xpressio 1976 Rare Soul 45 *hear*Led Zeppelin I 45rpm Clarity Test Pressing Box SetHubert Sumlin Uk 7" 45 Blue Horizon Only 99 Pressed Mint Looks UnplayedBlack Sabbath Sweet Leaf 7 Promo 45 Vertigo Demo Ozzy Osbourne Uk Vinyl RareTeenage Fanclub Songs From Northern Britain Lp Uk PressingPromo Northern Soul 45 Beverly Ann On Rca 9468 Vg++Northern Soul Lp Natural Four Good Vibes! Abc Rare W/ I Thought You Were MineHear! Northern Soul 45 Cookie Woodson - I'll Be True / I Can't Hear You On ColosTrolls Pre- Life Alone Mega Rare Swedish Psych 45 Garage Comped! Prog Listen!'71 Sight'n'sound 45 Mystic Revelation Of Rastafari Freedom Reign C Brooks Rare♫Led Zeppelin "stairway To Heaven" 1972 Promo Record - Mono & Stereo 45 Rpm - 7"The Surgeons - Sid Never Did It - Uk 1979 Surgery 45 - KbdKirka & Islanders Beat The Clock Rare Finnish Psych Garage Sweden 45 Finland ModKing Floyd Times Have Changed Superb Northern Soul 45 Groov A Lin Funk Listen!Pic & Bill Talk About Love Monster Northern Soul Dancer Rare Spain 45 Listen!

Recent News: 45 Records

Source: Google News

How streaming music changed the top 40 -- and made it a little less interesting
Fusion, June 30th

As the physical format for music production shifted from the ten-inch 78-rpm record to the 7-inch 45-rpm in 1949, music became more and more focused on the single — one song — than on a full album. That became even more true when the iTunes store ...Read more

Floating Record Player, June 30th

Record players are back in vogue at the moment and here's one that really stands out, or should I say floats out. It's a “Floating Record Vertical Turntable”… Two stereo speakers are built into the maple or walnut base unit, though external amplifiers...Read more

100&Pound Cast Iron Turntable Promises To Sound As Good As It Looks
Co.Design, June 29th

If you're sick of cheaply constructed electronics that seem to be on the verge of breaking down, meet Fern & Roby's 100-pound turntable. "So much of the current audio aesthetic is very shiny and plastic, often monochromatic black—it frankly leaves us...Read more

The Floating Record Is A Twist On The Classic Turntable
Ubergizmo (blog), June 28th

We have to admit that it is a rather unique take on the regular turntable and how it works is through the use of a polished acrylic platter, a record clamp, and a silicon belt that helps to drive the record at speeds of 33.3 or 45 RPM. It also appears...Read more

THE REGULARS: 'Back in the day,' AM radio and transistors ruled
Sioux City Journal, June 28th

Part of that same nostalgic graveyard that includes those 45-rpm records the AM disc jockeys used to spin. News of the demise of the transistor radio brought me back to my youth when AM radio ruled and at a time in my life when the music meant everything...Read more

Gadget Ogling: Vertical Vinyl, Kid-Friendly Video Chats, and a Smart Pool Monitor
TechNewsWorld, June 27th

It seems absurdly easy to switch from playing 33 1/3 to 45 RPM records and back again, thanks to a belt drive system that snaps into place. There are built-in speakers, which is great for someone like me, who doesn't enjoy having large speakers around, ...Read more

Harvey Michaels, 87; a North Shore mentor
Boston Globe, June 25th

We used to bring 45 rpm records into the department chair office and listen to the big bands,” said Baldacci, who recalled “Harvey's love and enthusiasm for his job. You could see it in his eyes.” Harvey J. Michaels graduated from Plymouth High School...Read more

Ricky Flake: Celebrating 'Satisfaction' and newer stuff, June 25th

1 anniversary, ABKCO is releasing a limited edition 12-inch 45 rpm vinyl of the song (with both U.S. & U.K. B-sides on back). The next two reviews are more contemporary: former local guy Michael Grimm's latest recording followed by consideration of...Read more