TBT: The Engine That Drove Pop Music!

Scott holds up a classic 45 from the 1980's on MCA Records!

Today, we pay tribute to the 7″ piece of vinyl that fueled a music revolution. The single, or as most know it, “The 45” celebrated it’s 69th anniversary yesterday.

The single was developed by RCA Records to serve a market in between the older 78 RPM (revolutions per minute) disc and the newly released 33 1/3 RPM Long Play album. The first 45 rpm records were recorded in mono, with identical recordings on both sides of the disc. Later on, the technology was adopted by most record companies as the delivery system for single song releases (generally an A Side “hit” and a B Side album cut).

The singles became popular with younger listeners, who could afford buying the lower priced discs. Plus, it was a way to buy hit records, rather than a full album of songs that were unfamiliar. Kids could play them in their own rooms on inexpensive record players, far away from the family “Hi-Fi” and their parent’s ears!

As a result, the little 45 record help fuel the rock ‘n roll revolution and pop radio. Billboard tabulated the “Hot 100” singles every week. Local radio stations published their own “hit surveys.” Kids (including myself) ran to record stores to buy the latests songs from our favorite artists.

Sadly, as portable technology took hold, the 45 was destined to be replaced. First by cassette singles (“cassingles”) and later by CD’s and digital media.

However, the 45 RPM record will always be remembered fondly by many as the vehicle to get their favorite music. I can listen to any song from the late 70’s and 80’s and tell you what label it was on. Not because I am a savant…but because, I had the 45!

Let’s head back to 1948 and a cool video produced by RCA to introduce the 45 rpm single to vendors and stores.



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