Garage 45s are vinyl 45 rpm records that were pressed by self-financed garage bands in very small quantities, mostly in the 1960s. Some of the most sought-after 45 rpm garage recordings are prized precisely for their scarcity. By some estimates there are perhaps 250 high-quality garage 45s with remaining pressings of less than 10 copies. In other cases, as few as one or two copies of a particular garage 45 have been spotted.
Even though there is an extremely limited supply of garage 45s, there is also limited demand. In fact, there may be fewer than 100 collectors worldwide willing to pay the big bucks for the rarest, most desirable garage 45s. Still, there are many more collectors in the middle, who collect garage 45s along with psych records, Northern Soul, and 45s in general.
The music on garage 45s crosses a variety of genres, but some of the more common ones are pop, psychedelic rock, so-called proto-punk, British invasion music, and ballads. Collectors can also find R&B and instrumental garage 45s.
Beyond scarcity, the keys to collectible garage 45s include a clean and unscratched pressing of these 7-inch vinyl records. Just as important is the quality and condition of the printed label and picture sleeve. And since these records were recorded in garages or other makeshift studios with poor acoustics, audio quality is paramount in determining whether a garage 45 is a collector’s item or an expensive souvenir.
Some of the rarest garage 45s include Denise and Company’s 1966 Wee Records disk “Boy What’ll You Do Then/Chaos.” The group was led by Merry Prankster Denise Kaufman, who would go on to found the all-girl psych-rock band Ace of Cups. Recently, that 45 reportedly sold for $10,000, in no small part, perhaps, because the “boy” in the song’s title was a guy named Jann Wenner, who started a little magazine called “Rolling Stone.”
Other rare garage 45s include Sonics Inc.’s “Diddy Wah Diddy/Nobody to Love,” of which there is only one known copy, and “Dance Girl Dance/Another Boy” by Greg Barr & The Barr Association, one of several highly collected ’60s garage bands from Texas.