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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Record KeepingMemphis Flyer, December 5th
The 45-rpm records and downloads find the Bo-Keys coalescing around Wiggins' vocals on the A-sides and taking instrumental flights on the B-sides. The first single is "I Need More Than One Lifetime," an original track credited to Wiggins, drummer...Read more
Holiday Wishes 2013: Holiday Crafts Gone WrongHartford Courant, December 4th
Each of the scouts brought to their next meeting a 45-rpm record, which was placed in an oven to melt. As vinyl melts, its edges curl in a ripple pattern. It also releases toxic fumes. After the vinyl cooled, and the fumes subsided, the girls were sent...Read more
Former Georgia Straight editor spearheads blues-rocking benefit for Mary ...Straight.com (blog), December 4th
At the time Mercer was editor of the Georgia Straight and lead vocalist for a band called the Explosions, which included then-Straight staffers Alex Varty, Tom Harrison, and David Lester. The group released "Wilson, Lucas & Bruce" as a 45 rpm single...Read more
Spiral Groove Introduces a $36000 Turntable…Digital Music News, December 3rd
The SG1.1 is set to 33-1/3 or 45 rpm by an electronic control, and it has a low voltage and high-torque AC motor. Spiral Groove says the platter has a hardened steel bearing and rotates at a stable speed without wobbling. IMG_4605_1. In the end, this...Read more
Truth is having a bad week on the InternetMinneapolis Star Tribune (blog), December 3rd
Same thing happened with 45 RPM sleeves. Everything needs someone who's interested in preserving the commonplace and quotidian, if only to scan it and provide a record of what the ordinary items of everyday life looked like. Like postcards, for example...Read more
Dallas Life: Arlington artist turns old albums into new jewelryDallas Morning News, November 30th
In a large laundry room-art studio in her home, Sylvie works on slicing and dicing old 33 and 45 rpm records. Her life, though, moves more like 78 rpm. A mother of two, she works full time as a special programs coordinator for the college of...Read more
Christmas City 45 RPM sells for $665Northland's NewsCenter, November 25th
Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - $665.12; perhaps the highest amount ever paid for a 45 RPM recording of "Christmas City," sung by Merv Griffen. That was the highest bid on Ebay for the record offered as a fundraiser for Bentleyville Tour of Lights. Click...Read more
METALLICA: 'Through The Never' Soundtrack Vinyl Coming To Official Store ...BLABBERMOUTH.NET, November 22nd
arrives on vinyl in the the band's official store, Met Store at Metallica.com, on Monday, November 25 at 1 p.m. Pacific Time. Choose between the limited 4-LP 45 RPM set on black vinyl and the 3-LP 33 1/3 set including one disc each in red, white...Read more