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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Record Store Day is 'Christmas for vinyl'Frederick News Post (subscription), April 19th
“We're very lucky,” French said as Kendall pulled the $13.99 45 rpm recording out to show. They were amazed that by 9:30 a.m., the Nirvana release was out to bid online at between $50 and $75. French and Kendall arrived at 11:30 p.m. Friday to spend...Read more
Summer Jam to return to East field with no cover chargeGlens Falls Post-Star, April 19th
You had a 45 (rpm record) or 33 (long play record) depending on what you had,” Cloutier said. More recently the station added an online streaming option on its website, which gets about 3,000 hits per week. To mark the anniversary, WCKM will be doing a ...Read more
"Ascii Bot"Pitchfork Media, April 18th
Built from a jag of electrified strings, Hebden is at his craftsman best across its eight minutes, nodding at compositional minimalism (like Philip Glass at 45 RPM) yet folding that melody into a propulsive hi-hat pattern, beckoning to both head and...Read more
Gizmos too great to trashPhilly.com, April 18th
They went away when the more portable 45 rpm disc was introduced, with its more resilient vinyl formations. All that makes finding decent children's records and players like this all the more precious. (Watch a video of it playing at http://youtube...Read more
Record Players For Cars Seemed Like A Good Idea In 1956The Consumerist, April 15th
You could order additional records from Columbia and a later version of the system accepted standard 45 RPM records. After the demise of the Highway Hi-Fi, RCA introduced a similar, cheaper system. Naturally, the predecessors of our tune-testing ...Read more
Record players were the infotainment systems of the 1950s and '60sFox News, April 14th
The format was chosen because 33? rpm records at 12 inches in diameter were too big for the car and the smaller 45 rpm size didn't play as long. The 7-inch size developed for the "Highway Hi-Fi" fit in the car and played for about an hour per side...Read more
Trivia 45 a test of teams' mettle: Our ViewWausau Daily Herald, April 11th
A gold pendant commemorating this year's Trivia 45 lays across a 45 rpm record, which is the inspiration for this year's Trivia contest. / Contributed photo. ADVERTISEMENT. What comedian was once a member of the soul group Bobby Taylor and the ...Read more
This Week in Boomer History: LBJ Won't Run … Beatles on Top … MLK KilledAARP News (blog), March 29th
RCA Victor introduces the world's first 45 rpm record on March 31, 1949. Country music star Eddy Arnold's “Texarkana Baby” is on the A side; his “Bouquet of Roses” is on the flip side. The 45 soon becomes the medium of choice for listening to and...Read more