The 45 revolutions per minute (rpm) record format was introduced by RCA Victor on January 10, 1949.
My first 45 rpm records were Pat Boone songs, like “April Love,” from the 1957 movie by the same name, after my parents bought me a record-player for Christmas that year, when I was 10.
Our basement became the scene of fifth- and sixth-grade rock-and-roll parties, as we rotated among the basements in our Cedar Rapids, Iowa neighborhood for birthdays, the girls in our felt poodle skirts.
I took my record player and record collection with me to college, to nestle in our bricks and boards bookcase 10 years later.
I still have 45 rpm records of Dominique, The Singing Nun, released in 1963, and Sukiyaki, by Kyu Sakamoto, respectively the second and first foreign songs to hit #1 on U.S. Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in 1963.
- Click here to hear Sukiyaki on YouTube, with words and translation.
- Click here to hear Dominique on YouTube.
- Click here for the words to Dominique.
45s were RCA Victor’s response to Columbia Records’ release the year before, in 1948, of the 33 1/3 Long Play (LP) records.
The 12-inch LP records let listeners hear symphony pieces for 20 minutes, without interruption. Using vinyl, instead of the shellac discs the previous generation four-minute 78s were recorded on, the sound on the LPs was also much better.
The 7-inch 45s were also recorded on vinyl with good sound fidelity. The company’s approach to competing with the long play records was to introduce a record changer, a cylinder in the middle of the turntable that stacked enough records for 50 minutes of playing time, without having to reload the player.
45s were introduced in colors – yellow vinyl for children’s songs, ruby red for classics, midnight blue for semi-classical instrumentals, green for country, orange for R&B and gospel, black for popular.
For about 18 months, RCA Victor and Columbia Records competed to win the market and make their record speed and size dominant.
RCA Victor released popular records in both 78 and 45 formats while the market decided.
The way it played out is that albums were dominated by the 33 1/3 LP format and singles by the 45 format.
I still have the disk that goes in the middle of a 45 record so it can be played on a 33 1/3 turntable.
Disc jockeys decided, even after compact discs came to dominate the record industry, that they liked vinyl.
Just in case you thought 45s had disappeared, songs released in 45 rpm format include:
- “Candle in the Wind” (1997) Elton John 11 million copies sold
- “We Are the World” USA Africa 8 million copies sold
- “Hey, Jude” The Beatles 4 million copies sold
- “Hound Dog” Elvis Presley
- “I Will Always Love You” Whitney Houston
- “Macarena” Los Del Rio
- “I’ll Be Missing You” Puff Daddy & Faith Evans 3 million copies sold
- “Just Dance” Lady Gaga
- “Viva La Vida” Coldplay
- “How Do I Live” LeAnn Rimes
- “Hot N Cold” Katy Perry
Sit back and enjoy the nostalgia of your childhood and show your grandchildren what you used to watch, by ordering the 1957 Pat Boone movie, “April Love” or watch Debbie Reynolds in the movie, “The Singing Nun” from amazon by clicking on either title.
Carol Covin, Granny-Guru