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]

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]



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    

Modern Soul Disco 45 - Mellow Madness - Save The Youth - Mega - Mp3 - Rare!Northern Soul 45 - Cashmeres - Don't Let The Door - Hem - Mp3 - Rare!Naked City John Zorn Torture Garden Lp 45 Rpm Shimmy 80s Avant Rock Jazz Vg++Funk/deep Soul 45 - Innersouls - Just Take Your Time - Plemmons - Mp3 - Rare!Modern Soul 45 Henderson & Jones I'm Gonna Getcha Quality Blend Rare Grail Hear!* James Spaulding Give It Up/uhuru Sasa Rare Spiritual Jazz Funk East 45 HearNorthern Soul 45 - Tropics - Hey You Little Girl - Topic - Mp3Northern Soul- Fortson & Scott- Pzazz- Sweet Lover / My Dreams Of You - Listen The Atlantics Come On Rare 1966 Aust Sunshine Label 60s Punk 45 Ex ConditionModern Soul 45 Sex It's You (baby It's You)/wonders Of The World Super City HearCrossover Soul 45 - Little Al & Maxidynes - Lonely, Days - Shell - Mp3 - Rare!Northern Soul 45 - Roy Roberts - Got To Have All Your Love - Boro - Mp3 - Rare!Modern Soul Funk 45 - Network & Co. - Spirit Of The Boogie - Private - Mp3Northern Soul 45 - Joann Courcy - I Got The Power - Twirl - Mp3Judy Freeman & Blackrock -hold On- Northern Soul 45 On Rca - HearLed Zeppelin - Legendary Classic Records 45 Rpm Road Case 10 Lps On 48 DiscsNorthern Soul 45 - Johnny Howard - The Chase Is On - Bashie - Mp3Ultra Rare-smashing Pumpkins-pisces Iscariot Hand Numbered-45 & Lp-w/shrink-(nm)Modern Soul Funk 45 - Realistic Funk Band - Your Chance - Mega - Mp3 - Rare!Crossover Soul 45 - Merv Murphy - It's Growing - Simmons - Mp3 - Rare!Charlie Feathers Sun 231 Promo 45 Push Marks Defrost Your Heart Rare RockabillyKiss Lot Of 35 Lps 45 Cd Sealed Kiss First Album 3d Psycho Best Of Solo Lp PromoMelvin Bliss Synthetic Substitution B/w Reward Clean Ex Sunburst Soul Funk 45Northern Soul 45 Bobby Sheen Dr. Love/sweet Sweet Love Capitol Hear Whispers CvrTommy Neal - Goin' To A Happening - Vocalion - Original Uk 45 - Northern SoulLittle Ritchie Just Another Heartache Sound Stage 45-2554 Orig Nos Northern SoulMark Capanni -i Believe In Miracles- 70s / Northern Soul 45 On Capitol - HearFunk 45 - Lee Moses - Reach Out, I'll Be There - Musicor - Mp3Modern Soul 45 Raj Something Inside/dance What You Feel Like Oak Tree Hear Rare 70s Soul 45 - Clay Brown - Walk With A Groove - Florentine - Mp3Eddie Holman Rare Promo 45 I Surrender Nm- Barely Played Northern Soul MonsterElvis Presley Rockabilly Sun 210 Good Rockin' Tonight, Sun Original1950s 45Jethro Toe Tull - Sunshine Day / Aeroplane Withdrawn 1968 Uk Mgm Psych Prog 452 Record Cases & Over 400 Rockabilly, Rock, Country 45 Rpm Records (50's & 60's)45 7" David Bowie 1984 Single Picture Disc Ltd Edition Rsd 2014 New Mint SealedFredlo 45 - The Sotos Brothers - Miserlou/little Lila Rare! 45 Vg+ 6106Queen Bohemian Rhapsody 7' 45 Portugal 1975 Uniq Sleeve Portuguese 8e 006 97 140Unrelated Segments Cry, Cry, Cry Liberty Promo Detroit 60s Garage Punk Psych 45Ray Frazier & The Shades Of Madness Rare Soul Funk 45 Stanson ListenSherri Taylor ~ He's The One That Rings My Bell ~ Gloreco R&b Northern Soul 45 ™Sure Spin Digi Killer 45 Sheena Spirit We Are Spirit Rare Ex ™* Merv Murphy It's Growning Rare 70's Crossover Northern Soul Simmons 45 Hear!Northern Soul/deep Soul 45 - Betty Fikes - Prove It To Me - Southbound - Rare!Northern Soul 45 Lorraine Chandler Tell Me You're Mine/what Can I Do Hear Rca Northern Soul/sweet Soul 45 - Rock Candy - Alone With No Love - Dontee - Mp3Ultra Rare!! Beatles 45 Decca 31382 My Bonnie, Tony Sheridan & The Beat BrothersTobi Lark ~ Challenge My Love / Sweep ~ Topper Rare Northern Soul / R&b 45 HearNorthern Soul 45 - Epsilons - Mad At The World - Shrine - Mp3Black Sabbath Lot Of 34 Lps 45 Cd Quad Quadradisc Paranoid Ozzy Clear Vinyl The Beatles Till There Was You Rare '64 French France Odeon Jukebox Ps 45 7" Ex'88 Rootical Vibrations Digi Killer 45 Elkana Gordon The Eden Rare ™Metallica Black Album Half Speed Mastered 45 Rpm 4 Disc New Vinyl 180 Gram1950's Elvis Presley Sun 45 #215 Milkcow Blues Boogie & You're A HeartbreakerModern Soul 45 - Standing Room Only - Heart And Soul - Ygb - Mp3S.p.g. "loveland" Rare Private Modern Soul 45 Magick Listen7" The Carnaby Jump And Dance 45 Piccadilly 1965 Mod/freakbeatNorthern Soul 45 - Lee Fields - Take Me Back - Angle 3 - Mp37" Mr Foundation (zoot Simms) Timo-oh 45 Studio 1 Uk 1968 Rocksteady Scorcher!!!Westmorlites/mr Foundation 45 Miss Hai Te Tai Te Coxsone Roots Reggae Vg++ #s25Jetz * 1977 Uk Punk Kbd Mod Revival Glam * Belgian 45 * Listen!

Recent News: 45 Records

Source: Google News

Movie review: Only Lovers Left Alive
Montreal Gazette, April 24th

So when his 11th film Only Lovers Left Alive opens, post-credits, with a 45-RPM single being dropped on a vintage record player, followed by a stunning overhead shot of Tilda Swinton lying on the floor in a gold-patterned robe, you know you're in good...Read more

Let it Rain: Beatles tribute band helps celebrate The Fab Four
Stockton Record, April 24th

"The 45s (45-rpm vinyl singles), posters, magazines, memorabilia, toys. "I'd find stuff up in the attic. 'Who are these guys?' I just fell in love with their whole persona and image. The black suits. Boots. Haircuts. The whole image." He won a talent...Read more

Retro soul at Oxford's Double Decker fest
Jackson Clarion Ledger, April 23rd

Wiggins is also the featured vocalist on the Bo-Keys' recent 45 rpm “Handwriting on the Wall”/“I'm Still In Need,” which is also available digitally. The Bo-Keys' show begins at 8 p.m. on Friday, and they will also perform on a special edition of...Read more

Spauldings on Indiana Avenue
NUVO Newsweekly, April 23rd

James Spaulding - Uhuru Sasa, 1970 Spaulding's debut as a leader was a self released 45 RPM of funky avant-jazz. An extremely rare piece that sells around the $1,000 mark. James Spaulding - Plays the Legacy of Duke, 1976 Spaulding's first full LP as a ...Read more

'Hurricane': For Bob Dylan, Rubin Carter fight was personal
New York Daily News, April 20th

Blank Archives/Getty Images The sleeve cover photograph of rock singer and songwriter Bob Dylan's 45 RPM single 'Hurricane,' showing boxer Rubin (Hurricane) Carter in a fighting stance. It's also a great song, a musical freight train that picks up...Read more

Record Players For Cars Seemed Like A Good Idea In 1956
The 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

Trivia 45 a test of teams' mettle: Our View
Wausau 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 Killed
AARP 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