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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“Happy Together Tour” billed as “an outrageous concert”Youngstown Vindicator, September 2nd
The best we had at that time was 45 [RPM] records and the radio,” Love said. “We're definitely going to be singing along – loudly! Like everyone else,” she said. The fair has grandstand attractions planned for each day. Other music acts include country...Read more
Plan your moves, then play with new educational toySt. George Daily Spectrum, September 2nd
Priced at $130, the fully automatic AT-LP60BL blue and the AT-LP60RD red turntables each include a dual magnet phono cartridge, a switchable built-in pre-amplifier and a 45 rpm adapter. audio-technica.com. Treat charging cables with care. If you're...Read more
Rhody O's Square Dance lessons begin Sept. 8Port Townsend Leader, September 2nd
At Rhody O's, the caller is Spike Reid, who comes from Bremerton and plays prerecorded music on 45-rpm records broadcast over the venue's sound system. Using a microphone, he calls, and sings, instructions for the dancers. Reid is in his late 70s and...Read more
Hip-hop legend Biz Markie will 'Make the Music' at Hilltop Pub Thursday nightThehour.com, September 1st
Markie said he and a longtime friend and collaborator, Norwalk-based DJ Billy Busch, are going to dig through their crates of 45 rpm records to provide an eclectic all-vinyl set. Busch said that he and Markie hope to give audiences a taste of the early...Read more
NEW TECH: Toy teaches kids coding, earbuds deliver solid sound, morePoughkeepsie Journal, August 31st
An “educational” toy used to mean an ant farm or microscope for that budding scientist. But with Silicon Valley regularly minting rich young'uns who have utilized their coding savvy to come up with a cool new app, maybe it's time to get junior into the...Read more
Latino artists urge Napans to see 'Beyond the Label'Napa Valley Register, August 31st
The free event at the Black and White Center in downtown drew around 400 people to view the paintings and drawings, listen to oldies from the '60s and '70s on 45 rpm records, and enjoy food and drinks from Melted restaurant. “(They were) primarily...Read more
Back in the day: HLOM artifacts stir recollectionsThe Daily News Online, August 30th
Milk came in a bottle, and a 45-rpm record was about $.85. Gas was $.22 a gallon. If you were Catholic and going to the movies you had to go to your church and check out the document called the Legion of Decency movie ratings. If it was not listed in...Read more
New tech productsBaxter Bulletin, August 30th
on your computer or, of course, stereo gear. Priced at $130, the fully automatic AT-LP60BL blue and the AT-LP60RD red turntables each include a dual magnet phono cartridge, a switchable built-in pre-amplifier and a 45 rpm adapter. audio-technica.com...Read more