Saturday, April 9, 2011

The 7" Turns 62. Happy Birthday 45 RPM Record!!

The 45 RPM record turns 62 years old this month. But the format isn't yet ready to collect Social Security. Next Saturday (April 16th), more Record Store Day special releases will be on the 7in 45 than LP or 10" EP.

The 45 was introduced in 1949, and to much the same kind of hype that saw the CD, DVD and Blu-Ray discs enter the marketplace. Newspapers everywhere reported on the format wars between Columbia's 33 1/3 LP (re-introduced in 1948 after RCA's experiment with the 33 1/3 format in the early '30s) and the new 7in 45 created by RCA.

Here is an ad for a 45 RPM record player from April 10, 1949.

What was most remarkable about the 45 RPM was not foreseen in 1949. The low cost of the 45 RPM allowed many small labels to flourish, and the format is certainly most responsible for Motown Record's success. Founder Berry Gordy started Motown with an $800.00 loan, and the 45 was the label's staple format. The format began the careers of artists from Willie Nelson to The White Stripes, both of whom had their first records released on 45's paid for out of their own pockets.

And with the evolution of Northern and Modern Soul, the 45 RPM became the most collectible record format, accounting for the majority of collectible records that sell for over $1000.00.


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