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]

Mybeatles.net

Mybeatles.net

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]

317X

317X

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    

Brute Force - King Of Fuh 1969 Uk Mega Rare Unissued Apple 45 The Beatles Ex+Rare Soul 45 Lenny Curtis Nothing Can Help You Now/who You Gonna Run To On EndLatin Soul 45 Tony Middleton Spanish Maiden/aqui Llego On Storm Nm/vg++Rare Soul 45 Tony Middleton 'paris Blues/out Of This World' Orig. Promo On MalaNorthern Soul 45 New Wanderers This Man In Love/adam & Eve On Ready Vg++/nm Northern - Helen Shapiro - Stop And You Will Become Aware - Rare 7" Northern Soul 45 Cliff Nobles My Love Is Getting Stronger On Atlantic The Mickey Finn * 1968 Freakbeat Mod Psych 45 * Garden Of My Mind * Listen!Northern Soul 45 Duke & Leonard Just Do The Best You Can On Stomp Town Vg++Northern Soul 45 Eddie Bishop Call Me/what Did He Say? On Abc Paramount Nm WlpRare David Bowie Space Oddity Single 7" 45 Philips W/ Inner Portuguese SleeveAc/dc High Voltage 7" 45 Portugal Mega RareTitle Fight Kingston 7" Ep Record Release Cover 45/50 Cold World Rival MobR&b 45 Little Willie John I'm Shakin'/a Cottage For Sale On KingFunk 45 Honey Drippers Impeach The President On Alaga Northern Soul 45 Jeanette Williams Something's Got A Hold On Back Beat Nm PromoThe Damned - Stretcher Case Baby 1977 Uk 45 Stiff Gig FreebieRare Texas Rockabilly 45 Sonny Fisher "pink And Black" On Starday 1956Thane Russal & Three Security 45 Aussie Cbs Garage Psych Freakbeat 1966Miracles You Really Got A Hold On Me Og Uk Oriole 45 DemoBoogie 45 Cuzz Band I Just Wanna Dance/special On Tri State NmNorthern Soul 45 Appointments Steppin' Closer/sweet Daddy On DartNorthern Soul Terry CallierFunk 45 Holzer & Pure Love Pure Love On Nilkam Vg++The Tropics 45 Topic Hey You Little Girl Rare Northern Soul ListenBetty Lavette What Condition My Condition Is In Northern Soul 45 On Karen HearHector Rivera Northern Soul 45 "i Want A Chance For Romance" Nm RareBoogie Rap 45 Mr. Magic Gilligan's Island To The Beat On T.s.o.c. NmErnie Washington 45 On Chattahoochee Northern SoulTeddy Mr Bear Mcrae Hi Fi Baby 45 7" Ex- Us Original R&b Rocker ListenSex Pistols - Anarchy In The Uk Original 1976 Uk Emi 45Atco 60s Rock 45 The Beatles - Ain't She Sweet + Nobody's Child + Picture SleeveJohnny Burnette Trio Honey Hush Uk Vogue Coral Tri Vg Both 45 7" Plays FineModern Soul 45 Leon Ware Why I Came To California/can I Touch You On Elektra WlpLove * Alone Again Or * 1967 Us Psych Freakbeat Garage * Arthur Lee * French 45White Stripes 45rpm 7" Record Case Box 2007 Jack Meg Icky Thump Tour Todd SlaterAlley Cats - Nothing Means Nothing Anymore 1978 Usa 45 DangerhouseR&b Chartmakers V/a Original Uk Stateside 45 EpLatin 45 Pete Rodriguez Micaela/i Like It Like That On Alegre Nm A Brothers Guiding Light - Getting Together - Mercury Rare Northern/modern SoulNorthern Soul 45 Harold Melvin Get Out/you May Not Love Me On Landa WlpCarl Perkins Calling All Dancers Rare Holland Ep Dutch 45 Rockabilly Sun Records70s Soul 45 Queen Yahna Ain't It Time On P&p NmThe Athens Rogues Extremely Rare 45rpm 7' 1968 Orig. Stop Northern Soul Vg++J.c. Heavy * 1970 Uk Heavy Psych Mod Freakbeat Garage * German 45 * Listen!The Clash - Capitol Radio 1977 Uk 45 Nme Freebie Punk/kbdPeanuts Wilson Cast Iron Arm Uk Coral Tri Vg Both 45 7" Plays FineChain Gang - My Fly 1978 Usa 45 Kapitalist Punk/kbdNorthern Soul 45 Harry Starr Another Time Another Place/step Into My WorldFunk 45 All The People Cramp Your Style/whatcha Gonna Do On Blue Candle NmPearl Jam Let Me Sleep 45 B/w Ramblings Epic 1991 RareNorthern Soul 45 Ruby Andrews Just Loving You/the Love I Need On Zodiac Bruce Springsteen Born To Run Rare *m-* Holland 45 Unique Dutch P/s Stunning!!!Art Freeman 45 Fame Slippin Around With You Rare Northern Soul ListenThe Missing Links, You're Driving Me Insane / Somethin' Else 7"x45rpm Rare Oz NmThe Damned - New Rose 1976 Uk 45 StiffSkip Bifferty * On Love * 1967 Uk Freakbeat Psych * German 45 * Listen!Tyrannosaurus Rex - Pewter Suitor 1969 Uk 45 Regal Zonophone T.rex/marc BolanLatin Soul 45 Joe Bataan Young Gifted & Brown/unwed Mother On Uptite Northern Soul 45 Virgil Henry You Ain't Sayin' Nothin' New On Tamla Nm

Recent News: 45 Records

Source: Google News

Have Any of These Old Christmas Records? They Could Be Worth Thousands of ...
TheBlaze.com, November 22nd

Of course, in order for a collectible record to fetch top dollar, the condition needs to be exceptional and the packaging — the sleeve of a 45 rpm single or the full sized album cover of an LP (long playing record) – would need to be original and in...Read more

Patricia Susan Edwards
Havana Herald, November 21st

Known as 'Pat' or 'Patsy' by her family, she was born in Quincy, Florida, February 18, 1953, to Hershel and Lela Edwards. She attended Gadsden County Public Schools through eleventh grade and received her high school diploma from Robert F. Munroe ...Read more

LEGO Record Player: Brickophone
Technabob (blog), November 21st

This one made by Brickinside member Hayarobi is much better, because it can play at 33 1/3 rpm and 45 rpm. lego record player by hayarobi 620x465 magnify. It's made out of 2,405 LEGO pieces and uses the Power Functions 8878 battery and the Power ...Read more

Opinion: Just 'wing' it
Monroe Courier, November 20th

Love problems seem to encourage compulsive behavior. When I got dumped in high school, I played a 45 rpm of Positively Fourth Street by Bob Dylan for so long that the song was so embedded in my brain that I couldn't sleep. You've heard the line, “You...Read more

Inside the vinyl revival: Facts, fiction and rock 'n' roll
The Oregonian - OregonLive.com, November 19th

While modern formats, from MP3 to FLAC, come from the tech world, it was Columbia Records that debuted the 12-inch, "long-playing" 33 1/3-rpm record, or LP, in 1948 — an advance quickly followed by the 7-inch, 45-rpm record developed by rival RCA ...Read more

DJ Shadow On the Historic Renegades of Rhythm Tour
SF Weekly, November 18th

With creative partnership that dates back 15 years, to the 1999 release of their celebrated 7-inch single mix Brainfreeze, turntable maestros DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist [aka Josh Davis and Lucas MacFadden] have helped raise the bar and push the ...Read more

As I See It: Recording preserves veteran's voice
jacksonprogress-argus, November 17th

Feet or miles matters not, since I still had to pack everything, and in so doing uncovered a box of 45-rpm singles that I picked up at a yard sale somewhere up north, many years ago. The fact that I bought a box full of records and didn't check them...Read more

Love of music leads to vast knowledge
Jacksonville Journal Courier, November 15th

“I was only 3 years old when my brother brought home 45 (rpm) records of 'See You Later Alligator' by Bill Haley and the Comets and 'The Great Pretender' by The Platters, and I fell in love with both of them,” Darnell said. “Soon after that came Elvis...Read more