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 ...
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 Please Me," which included an extra "t" in the band’s name. Anomalies like these are what make Beatles 45s such a rich area for collectors. For example, there were about 16 different label variations of the 1964 Tollie Records release of "Twist and Shout." Serious Beatles collectors want them all.
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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US Postal Service Issues Stamp Honoring Tejano Music Icon Lydia MendozaWorld Music Central, May 19th
The square stamp captures the look of a 45-rpm record sleeve. The stamp pane evokes the appearance of a 45-rpm single peeking out of a record sleeve above the stamps themselves. On the reverse side, the pane includes a larger version of the photograph...Read more
JOHN GOTTCENT: Remember whenEvansville Courier & Press, May 18th
It will offer 45 rpm and 33 1/3 rpm records with five-color labels, and will cover the field of music, with emphasis on folk, country, rock 'n' roll and popular. The price of cigarettes is going up around the city. The increases range from less than a...Read more
Records Aren't Just For Hipsters AnymoreHuffington Post (blog), May 18th
We are programmed for easy access, rapid response and instant gratification. And who can blame us? Vinyl travels terribly compared to my iPhone. In the unlikely event that you ever get your hands on a 1961 Chrysler DeSoto, it actually had a 45 RPM...Read more
Ben Webster and “Sweets” Edison – Columbia CS 8691 (1962)/ Original ...Audiophile Audition, May 17th
Even with the wide spread of the 45 rpm grooves, only three vinyl sides were required, so the fourth side just repeats the first two tracks again. So if you ever wear out the first side repeatedly demonstrating some of the best jazz ever played and...Read more
Audio News for May 17, 2013Audiophile Audition, May 17th
Vinyl Pros – Richer, more “warm” sonics, the ultimate in fidelity in stereo 45 rpm pressings, nostalgia for LPs of the past, more space for cover art and notes, variety of packagings, more pleasure in handling them. CD Cons – Some had “CD rot,” only...Read more
Record Collector Devastated by Loss of Rare 45s, Offers $1K RewardSF Weekly (blog), May 17th
Either way, he's still happy to plunk down a grand in return for his rare, irreplaceable late 1960s Jamaican 45 RPM records. "I've had my moments where I've left my phone in a cab. But I could care less about that," he said. But leaving a small blue...Read more
Artists, Marietta gallery tackle challenging topic of sex traffickingAtlanta Journal Constitution, May 16th
Atlanta artist Flora Rosefsky created a series of seven collages that place old 45 rpm records and facial photos scissored in an unrecognizable manner on Stop sign-shaped red matte board. The records bear seemingly innocuous titles such as “Shame,...Read more
Revival of old 45s is better than AlrightLondon Free Press, May 15th
A selection of 45 rpm records by London-tied performers ranges from classics from metalheads Helix to rockers Thundermug to rock and rollers Uranus and finally newer outfits like Wild Domestic and Olenka and The Autumn Lovers. (Mike Hensen The...Read more