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    

70s Soul 45 - Hamilton Movement - She's Gone - Look-out - Nm Mp3The Sabres 45 Kat My Hot Mama Rare Rockabilly Monster Listen Rockabilly, Rnr 45 - Gene Maltais & Gibson String Band - Lilac 3159 *original*Eloise Laws "love Factory" Us Music Merchant Promo 1973: Northern Soul Classic!Disciples Of Soul 45 Phantom That's The Way Love Goes Rare Northern Soul ListenNorthern Soul Huge Classic- Original Uk - Johnny Wyatt - This Thing Called LoveReggae Girls - Rescue Me Original Uk Nu Beat 45 ClipThe Dirty Filthy Mud 1967 Worex 45rpm The Forest Of Black Rare Oakland PsychIsland Funk Bomb Mavis John Use My Body Kalinda 45 Listen ! Carib Soul BoogieMadonna Hung Up/sorry Picture Disc 45 Rare Uk 7 Vinyl Single Pic DiskThe Zombies Rod Argent 1964 Uk=rare 4 Track Ep. Beat Group 45rpm Mod 7"Lew Kirton On Alston --heaven In The Afternoon-- Modern Soul 45 | Nm | ListenSweet Savage 1981 Park Records Nwobhm P/s 45 Take No PrisonersBeatles Lot Of 66 Lps 45s Ep Four By The Beatles Sealed White Album Mfsl MagicalLarry Blue Notes Night Phantom Tiris Orig Us G45 Garage Punk 7" 45 Nm HearMiles Davis, Kind Of Blue 45rpm Lacquers Box SetMamie Van Doren Untamed Youth 45 Ep Prep 1957 Orig. Eddie Cochran Top Copy! NmBeatles - All Together Now / Hey Bulldog - Rare Swedish Ps 45 Swe 1969Madonna Music/impressive Instant 7" Clear Vinyl German 45 Rare 2000 PopThe Beatles Rare Vee-jay Reords We Wish You A Merry Christmas Promo 45 SleevePaul Mccartney & Wings - Beatles - Jet Rare Swedish Nude Ps 45 1973Richie Allen 45 Era Goochy Bamba Rare Exotica Tittyshaker Surf Rock ListenSoul Vendors Grooving Steady Original Uk Coxsone 45 ClipPink Floyd Lot Of 40 Lps 45 Cd Tower Orig Piper+ More Endless River Sealed PromoLee Perry And The Upsetters Jungle Lion Original Uk Upsetter 45 ClipDesmond Dekker Beautiful & Dangerous Og Uk Pyramid 45 Clip MintNorthern Soul The Carstairs - It Really Hurts Me Girl - Red Coach White PromoThe Miracles - I Gotta Dance To Keep From Crying 7 Inch Northern Soul Stateside70s Soul 45 - Patterson Twins - Gonna Find A True Love - Commercial - Vg+ Mp345 Rpm 1967 Texas Garage Band Thursday's Children Rare Try GirlElvis Presley Rare Save-on Records Promo Ep 45 Rca-victor Spa-7-27 Gonna Sit1960s Northern Soul 45 - Geraldine Hunt "two Can Live Cheaper Than One" BombayListen! Ben Aiken " Satisfied " Rare Northern Soul "Eddie Cochran On Liberty --twenty Flight Rock-- Rockabilly 45 | Orig | ListenGeorge Smith - I've Had It - Northern Soul 45 RareKiss 8 Lp Lot W Alive Tour T-shirt, Alive Iii Cd & 6 - 45s (w Detroit Rock City)Soul Cats - Your Sweet Love / Keep It Moving Orig 1969 Camel 45 Skinhead ReggaeWayne Gibson- Under My Thumb- Northern Soul Classic Rare!!70s Soul 45 - Daybreak - Everything Man - Pap - Vg++ Mp3 - 1st Press!Dick Wagner And The Frosts Sunshine B/w Little Girl Mod Garage Fuzz Psych 45Northern Soul/motown - Edwin Starr - Time 7" Single Tmg 1028Mint 40th Anniversary Uk David Bowie .the Jean Genie Picture Disc Glam 45 7"45 Barbara Randolph - I Got A Feeling (tmg 628) Uk Tamla Motown Original IssuThe Beatles Rare Early Tollie Lbl 45 & Picture Sleeve P.s.i Love You/love Me Do70s Soul 45 - Tony Troutman - What's The Use - Jerri - Vg++ Mp3 - Rare!The Anteeeks ( Dello ) I Dont Want You Rare One Sided Emidisc Acetate 45 Listen!Rockabilly Buddy Holly 2 Ep's 45 Rare Us & Canadian Copy - Listen To Me Ep The Brotherly Five Come Fly With Me / Losing My Girl 7" 45 Rare Savannah SoulThe Who Singles 45rpm Clarity Test Pressing Box SetNorthern Soul Bobby Sheen €Lot Of (56) The Beatles 45/7" Vinyl Records Group & Solo John,paul,george,ringoTamla Motown Presents 20 Mod Classics ~ V/a Lp ** Northern Soul Demo CopyMargie Joseph Rare Northern Soul 45 Volt One More Chance Hear ItNorthern Soul 45 - Eula Cooper - Let Our Love Grow Higher - Super Sound Vg++ Mp37" Beatles Love Me Do 45 Parlophone R 4949 Uk 1962 1st Press Red No Migb TextGarage 45 - Tom Dae Turned On Hitt 700 "i Shall Walk" HearBlack Sabbath ~ Evil Woman ** 1970 Swirl Vertigo 45Iron Maiden- Fear Of The Dark(live)/ Tailgunner Rare Emi Poster Sleeve 45 ExThe Beatles - Love Me Do / P.s I Love You 45 7” Red Parlophone 1962 Uk 1st PressBruce Springsteen - Open All Night. Uk 45' Single. 1982 Pic Sleeve.

Recent News: 45 Records

Source: Google News

Santa's spies
Newnan Times-Herald, December 21st

She howled when I stole her 45 RPM recording of Mr. Sandman and hid it in the dirty clothes hamper under my underwear. She shrieked when I dropped plastic vomit on her new white rug the day her friends came to see it for the first time. She screamed ...Read more

The 12 Songs of Christmas - #6: Sleigh Ride
VVN Music, December 20th

Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra, frequent collaborators with Anderson, first recorded the tune in 1949 and released it in both 78 RPM and red 45 RPM versions. Anderson recorded his own version of the tune in 1950 which become a hit when ...Read more

'Jingle Bell Rocks' documentary uncovers Christmas musical oddities
Salina.com, December 19th

(The opening credits, by the way, are especially witty, depicting a series of spinning 45-rpm records.) “There are 32 songs in the film, and you'd think, some of them are so obscure, they must be owned by some tiny label, and they're not going to...Read more

Jack White's top-selling 'Lazaretto' unique in every way
San Francisco Examiner, December 18th

On Side B, the label trick is done again, but the music can be heard only at 45 rpm. Combined with the record's 33 rpm playing speed, "Lazaretto" uses three different speeds. On top of that, a hologram is next to the label. An angel dances as the music...Read more

'Twas the Night Before Christmas … 1978
Radio World, December 17th

Next to him were the shoeboxes with the “singles,” the 45 rpm records. One box had the top 10 or so, the other had the rest of the top 40. In front or him was the “clock,” a hand drawn illustration which told him which category of songs to play during...Read more

Premiere: Jack White band singer-fiddler Lillie Mae Rische's 'Nobody's'
Los Angeles Times, December 17th

"Same Eyes," with members of the group who backed her: steel guitarist Carl Broemel from My Morning Jacket, bassists Jack Lawrence and Dominic Davis and drummer Whip Triplet. It's part of the "Blue Series" of vintage-style 45 rpm releases from...Read more

Rockford Rocked Interviews: A chat with Rockford native Larry Merryman of ...
The Rock River Times, December 16th

It was an old MGM Records 45 rpm called Purple People Eater by Sheb Wooley. How's that for different musical taste? RRI: What was the music scene like here in Rockford in the '60s? LM: When I started playing in a band back in the '60s, the Rockford...Read more

Naperville record store revives vinyl vibe
Chicago Tribune, December 14th

The shop also carries some new albums, 45-rpm disks, CDs, DVDs, t-shirts and drawers of MAD magazines.. Sicker waxed nostalgic as he cued up Jefferson Airplane's 'Surrealistic Pillow' album on a vintage one-speaker record player. "I remember going to ...Read more