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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Dig Into the Nuclear Era's Homegrown Fallout SheltersSmithsonian, February 10th
But now it is cleaned up, stocked with 1950s furniture, games and perhaps Elvis's “Blue Suede Shoes” at 45 rpm. It represents Shelter, with a capital S, and poses a question that fortunately remains unanswered: since such shelters were never tested by ...Read more
New book explores Saginaw's musical historyCity Pulse, February 10th
“When Elvis first came out, my mother bought me a 45 (RPM) record player so I could listen,” he said. “That was when I first started buying records. Elvis, Ricky Nelson and Sandy Nelson were my favorites.” In seventh grade, Reif played snare drum in...Read more
Down the River: A trip down memory laneFranklin News Post, February 10th
There are still two nice pieces of furniture in my house that play LPs and 45 rpm recordings. After another flood of memories had settled, I dug deeper to the bottom of the box. There in plastic photograph binders were 18 glossy photographs of the...Read more
See if you can answer, 'What Is It,' at museum exhibit [West Laurel]Baltimore Sun, February 8th
Remember the little yellow disc that you had to put in the middle of a 45 rpm record so it could play on a record player? For that matter, remember the record player or an eight-track player? Ann would love for you to visit her at Montpelier Mansion...Read more
HAYDN: Symphony No. 101 – Scottish Ch. Orch./ Robin Ticciati – Linn 45 rpm vinylAudiophile Audition, January 26th
The Scottish Chamber Orchestras and principal conductor Robin Ticciati make their LP debut with a 45rpm Supercut, 180g vinyl pressing of one of Haydn's great London Symphonies. The performance overall is an evolution through reconciliation of the two ...Read more
Nefertiti – Miles Davis Quintet – Columbia/Mobile Fidelity 45 rpm vinyl MFSL 2 ...Audiophile Audition, January 19th
The 1967 studio album as a transitional work for Davis in his shifting from acoustic recording to his subsequent electric period, and was his last fully acoustic album. It's in the post-bop subgenre. At 45 rpm it's pretty much one track to a side...Read more
What 45 RPM Record Was Spinning on Jung-Ho's Childhood Phonograph?CapeCod.com News, January 18th
Artistic Director and Conductor for the Cape Symphony Jung-Ho Pak has worked with world class artists like Yo-Yo Ma and James Taylor, and has conducted orchestras around the world. He thinks that every person deserves a chance at experiencing beauty ...Read more
Almanac: The 45 RPM recordCBS News, January 10th
"Listen, compare, and you, too, will agree that RCA Victor's 45 RPM record is the finest and best ever made," said one record company promo. Not everyone agreed -- including the folks at arch-rival Columbia Records, which was promoting a new record of...Read more