The 45 RPM
45 RPM records were first the brainchild of RCA Victor. The company introduced the innovation in 1948 in response to Columbia’s 33-1/3 ten-inch LP which debuted in 1948. As I have mentioned in the Blog a few years back the first “official” 45 rpm was RCA Victor 45-0001 “Texarkana Baby” by Eddie Arnold released on green wax – green because RCA designated different genres with different wax colors. (RCA actually did release a set of 45’s ahead of Arnold’s commercial release directly to retail distributors.)
And so Arnold’s release became the very first country 45 rpm record. This seems very appropriate as Arnold went on to achieve 27 number 1 Country Hits – and 146 charting records with 37 cross-over hits to the Pop Charts. By the way “Texarkana Baby” is actually credited as charting as a 78 rpm disc – catalog number 20-2806 vs. the dealer 45 pictured above – It charted in May of 1948 and was number 1 Country for 3 weeks – #18 Pop.
In short order, RCA introduced the 45 rpm record player, a machine that could only handle the 45 revolutions per minute. Before long other record companies got on board, more versatile record players were introduced and we were on our way to the Hop!
The Extended Play
Once again – RCA Victor stepped up to the plate 1952 introducing a technology which permitted narrower recording tracks and thus more than one track on a single side. Easy listening EP’s flourished in the early 1950’s featuring first the most popular big bands and then the top pop artists of the time.
The earliest 45 rpm extended play that I could locate was actually four records in a “box set” by organ player Dick Leibert. The “45 Cat” dates this set in the year 1949. Leibert performed often at the Radio City Music Hall and provided organ background music for many early soap operas.
The advertisement below appeared in 1952 when RCA already had released “100’s” of extended play 45’s.
The 45 extended play jackets below are referenced in the 1952 advertisement above.
When rock and roll arrived in the mid 1950’s record companies started releasing the rock and r&b founders on the extended play format. There weren’t many of these released and they are for the most part very scarce today. Two of the earliest of these are shown below by The Clovers and Fats Domino respectively – both very early rock and roll forerunners from 1953.
A little later on record companies introduced an interesting format – 33-1/3 rpm “compact” 7-inch records which were intended for juke box distribution. These generally contained three tracks on each side and unlike their 45 rpm predecessors, were released in stereo.
Great Britain in general and several European countries grabbed onto the extended play format – including them on their weekly pop charts – something that did not occur in the U.S. until a bit later and then only in unusual circumstances.
And so I have put together a page most of the EP’s from our Rock and Roll/R&B fore fathers (with some exceptions) [CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE PAGE]. I wish I could say I own all of these or even most – but I never focused on rare EP’s – My pockets just were not deep enough.