Andre Gardner

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!!

  • We're An American Band (first pressing gold vinyl) - Grand Funk

    Ahh, colored vinyl! It jumps right out at you, doesn’t it? This was quite a treat for fans when first pressings of this single, and the album, came out on gold vinyl. It’s not particularly collectible, just fun to have.

    We're An American Band 45

    Gold vinyl first pressing of “We’re An American Band” by Grand Funk

  • Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth) (US promotional copy)

    I collect 45s, but also am a rabid collector of Beatles Apple records 45s, particularly the promo copies. This one’s a beauty.Give Me Love promo 45

  • They're Coming To Take Me Away, HA-HAA! (autographed first pressing) - Napolean XIV

    One of my most prized singles. Thanks to his son Eric Samuels, Napolean XIV (real name Jerry Samuels) signed this copy for me and gave me the 45 from his own collection.

    Napolean XIV 45

    An autographed first pressing of “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, HAHA” by Napolean XIV.

  • Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life (promotional copy edited for language) - Monty Python

    I remember grabbing this at WIFI-92 as soon as it came in, just because it said George Harrison mixed it at his home studio on the label! Little did I know that John DeBella would use this as his show closing soon after! This version is the promo copy that has the line “life’s a piece of s**t” edited for radio.

    Monty Python 45

    promotional copy of “Always Look At The Bright Side Of Life” by Monty Python

  • Hard Luck Woman (promotional copy) - Kiss

    This is one of my favorite Kiss songs, and the single version is a totally different mix with some different vocals as well! I LOVE when they do that! I got this when I was at WIFI-92 radio, and I also got off on the fact this 45 was actually played on the radio. I’m geeking out, I know!

    Hard Luck Woman 45

    Promotional copy of “Hard Luck Woman” by Kiss, with alternate mix.

  • If You Love Somebody Set Them Free (test pressing of remix) - Sting

    A&M Records re-released this track from The Dream Of The Blue Turtles in remixed form, exclusively to radio. To get it to the stations quickly, test pressings were sent out before any label artwork was created, hence the blank label with handwritten titles. I have a lot of these!

    If You Love Somebody 45

    Test pressing of a radio remix for Sting’s “If You Love Somebody (Set Them Free).”

  • Penny Lane (US Promo 45 with extra trumpet) - The Beatles

    One of my holy grail 45s in my collection. When Capitol sent “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” to radio stations, they were given a different mix than the rest of the world. This mix has an extra bit of trumpet, played by David Mason, at the very end. It was the only place where this unique mix existed, and when Apple re-released the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album in 2017, they included this a bonus track. Only thing was, it was taken from a vinyl copy! Presumably, the master tape of that mix has been lost.

    Penny Lane promo 45

    US promotional copy of “Penny Lane” by The Beatles, with the extra trumpet at the end.

  • Come And Get Your Love (Promotional Copy with alternate mono mix) - Redbone

    One of my favorites, the promo copy of this fine track has a totally different mix and feel than the stereo. I have been looking for this 45 in this condition for decades, and finally found it at last year’s record show in Oaks. Oh, the joy of collecting!

    Redbone promo 45

    Promotional copy of “Come And Get Your Love” by Redbone, with an alternate mono mix.

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