On this day, January 10, in the year 1949, RCA records announced a brand new format for song releases. It would sound better than a 78, but be more reasonably priced than a full length 33 rpm LP, and it would usually contain one song on each side. Thus, the 45 was born, though the first releases on this new format would not come for two more months.
I fell in love with 45s when my dad and DJ brother Bill got me my first big batch of ’em..around mid-1966. I’m not sure what it is about these flat little guys, which I have cherished for almost 60 years, that makes them so magical to me. Well, I do know one reason. They fit into my limited allowance budget as a kid. I’d be able to get six or seven 45s a week for my pirate radio station and I’d be all set with the top hits of the day, ready to play for the dozens of people listening :). That was, until about 1975, when the companies all raised the retail price of a 45 from $0.99 to $1.49! That hurt the budget, though I believe I was able to successfully negotiate a raise to my allowance!
It was also the fact that, in most cases, the best song(s) from an album would be available to me for cheap and, if I was lucky, there would be a b-side that wasn’t even on the album! Sort of an early bonus track concept.
I also started to notice that, in some cases, the songs on the 45 had a different mix than the one on the album. that made the singles even more interesting. Later, as a collector, I really started diving into this collecting specialty of finding alternate mixes on the singles.
At my peak in the mid-80s, I probably had upwards of 10,000 albums and 2,000 45s in my collection. Over the years, I’ve severely pared down my collection to a much more manageable 500 albums, yet I still have about 750 singles. I regret getting rid of almost none of the LPs, except the 80s metal titles I threw away and now hear they fetch a lot of dough, but I do regret unloading any of my 45s. I’ve bought a lot of them back, in many cases in better condition, and while I don’t actively look for vinyl LPs much any more, I’m always out there at record shows, thumbing through rows and rows of 45s, hoping to find that one elusive title.
45s have given me so much pleasure over the years, and I thought I’d post a few singles from my collection that I randomly grabbed to show you. Happy Birthday, 45rpm single!!