This past week marked a milestone in music that nobody probably noticed, but one that changed the course of music history. On March 15, 1949, RCA Victor became the first music label to release a 7 inch diameter record that would only hold a few minutes worth of music on both side: the 45 rpm.
RCA released 7 singles that year. The music ranged from classical, to kids, to country music. Eventually, more labels began to release 45’s. Teenagers in the fifties loved the inexpensive 7 inch disc. Bill Haley and the Comets “Rock Around the Clock” sold 3 million singles in 1955!
Major rock acts such as The Rolling Stones through Nirvana released songs on 45’s. The Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman” was first released as a 45 without an album to be attached to.
1974 was the peak year for 45 rpms, when 200 million were sold. By the 80’s the 45 was dying a slow death when albums, cassettes and even the “cassette single” began outselling the 45. But make no mistake about it, the 45 rpm was responsible for changing music forever. It’s legacy is secure.