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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As the Raymore-Peculiar school year approaches, teacher ousted after showing ...
Kansas City Star, August 1st

In a basement with red shag carpet, stacks and stacks of 45 rpm records and a “How to Stuff a Wild Bikini” movie poster, Ken Simon ought to be a happier guy. But he's sad and will be sadder still come Aug. 18. That's the first day of school at Raymore...Read more

A window into great Agra gharana singer Vilayat Hussein Khan's live performances, July 31st

Last week, this column featured some 78 rpm and 45 rpm discs that Vilayat Hussein Khan recorded between the 1930s and the 1960s. Some of his recordings made by the All India Radio are now available to listeners. These recordings come close to what ...Read more

Friday Night Forgotten Oldie: They had an uncanny ability (blog), July 31st

On both sides of each aisle were rows and rows and rows of boxes, some with 33 rpm LPs, others with 45 rpm singles. This little boy was awestruck. I used some of my own coins, plopping them down on the counter to purchase some singles, one of them…...Read more

Daptone Records Announces New Compilation, Daptone Gold II
Paste Magazine, July 31st

It also features three tracks that were only previously available as 45-rpm singles: Charles Bradley and LaRose Jackson's “Luv Jones,” Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings' “Little Boys With Shiny Toys” and the Como Mamas' “Out of the Wilderness.” Daptone Gold ...Read more

“Say It Isn't So” @ YOUR Rowan County Public Library
Morehead News, July 31st

(I have to admit that my mental vision was of a 45 rpm record). Yep, it's true. Summer is going fast. The back-to-school frenzy is in full swing. And, hardest of all, the 2015 “Every Hero Has a Story” summer reading program at YOUR Rowan County Public ...Read more

SC: Pasta night for Bennett; Townhouse wows Detroit
The Detroit News, July 30th

Solomon, an avid estate sale picker, brought Bennett a gift, a 1950s 45 rpm record from early in his career she'd found, which included the song “Rags to Riches” and a letter on the sleeve, written from Bennett to his fans. “Susan said, 'Oh my gosh, we...Read more

For the vinyl curious: Pioneer PL-30-K turntable
CNET, July 29th

A 12-inch 45 RPM EP of the Smiths "The Peel Sessions" was vivid and totally alive sounding. That's what's great about vinyl on a good quality turntable: the music can blow you away. I'm not much of a Smiths fan -- I found this one on the street a few...Read more

Phir Subah Hogi: National Agenda On A 45-rpm Record
Swarajya, July 26th

While listening to a 45-rpm record of one my all-time favourite films, Phir Subah Hogi—a penny dropped. The song was Chin-o-Arab Hamaara. It appeared that the song was written before 1962—as it captured, perhaps satirically, the outreach of a poor...Read more