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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2014 Capital Audio Fest: Day TwoStereophile Magazine, July 27th
When Robin played a 12", 45 rpm single of Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean," he danced and gestured and waved his arms until we were all very clear and on the same page: this system can rock and dazzle with the best. This combination of gear delivered ...Read more
Genres > Rock Beyoncé's Producer Is Wrong, 8 Artists That Prove Guitar Music ...Music Times, July 25th
1. Ty Segall. If you took a 13th Floor Elevators record and speed it up from 33 to 45 rpm, it would probably sound like Ty Segall. After Jay Reatard passed away in 2010, Segall stepped right up to take over as the country's leading punk auteur...Read more
Nudge, Nudge: Neo-Luddites march on in a high-tech worldTimes Colonist, July 25th
I like MP3s, but still yearn for the days when people carried 45-rpm records around in two-tone carrier cases. We Neo-Luddites don't make a fetish of our anti-technology bias. Remember that family in Guelph who spent a whole computer-free year living...Read more
Woodstock man amasses collection worth hundreds of thousands of dollarsKingston Daily Freeman, July 25th
It's also morphed into a variety of other sports-related memorabilia as well as growing side collections like comic books, old movie posters and classic 45-RPM vinyl records. “I've educated myself in the hobby of sports cards and sports memorabilia...Read more
Kenny Rogers to Appear at Country Music Hall of Fame for Exhibit OpeningThe Boot, July 25th
Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri, original LP, 45-RPM picture sleeve and tape boxes for releases by both Kenny Rogers and the First Edition and Kenny Rogers as a solo artist, and costumes the singer wore for his role in the movie, 'The...Read more
'Wild Style' Breakbeats Being Released for First Time Ever as Seven-Record 45 ...Music Times, July 23rd
Each of the thirteen tracks gets its own side of a 45-rpm record, and the 14th side features an engraving themed to the film. The set also comes with a 28-page book featuring photos from the production of the film and a history of the production...Read more
Peter, Paul And Mary – In The Wind [TrackList follows] – Warner Brothers/ ORG ...Audiophile Audition, July 21st
Original Recording Group's 45-rpm re-mastering of In The Wind is superb. The pristine clarity, stereo separation and tonal warmth exceed standard CD quality. The album's back cover features the stream-of-consciousness liner notes by Dylan and photos of ...Read more
Peter, Paul And Mary – Peter, Paul And Mary – Warner Brothers/ ORG (45 rpm ...Audiophile Audition, July 18th
Original Recordings Group has re-mastered their self-titled debut to 45-rpm audiophile vinyl. The well-crafted arrangements and vocal prowess are on full display. Side A opens with a jaunty Stookey composition (“Early In The Morning”). The connection...Read more