|Hey Jude clocked in at 7:11, one of the longest singles to reach #1|
The 45 measured 7 inches and revolved at 45 Revolutions Per Minute (RPM), hence the name. The 45 also improved upon the sound quality of the 78. It became important to the spread of Rock and Roll, mostly because it was within the budget of most teenagers during the '50 and '60s. Adults tended to buy albums instead.
According to History's Dumpster, the first 45 introduced to the public for sale was Eddy Arnold's "Texarcana Baby."
The History of The 45 RPM Record goes on to say:
The RCA 7" inch 45 RPM record was cute, VERY small, and RCA's very colourful vinyl (each genre of music had it's own colour of vinyl!) made it an instant hit with younger people. Popular releases were on standard black vinyl. Country releases were on green vinyl, Children's records were on yellow vinyl, Classical releases were on red vinyl, "Race" (or R&B and Gospel) records were on orange vinyl, Blue vinyl/blue label was used for semi-classical instrumental music and blue vinyl/black label for international recordingsIn the beginning the 45 could only hold just over 3 minutes of music. As the WikiWackyWoo tells us:
The 3-minute single remained the standard into the 1960s, when the availability of microgroove recording and improved mastering techniques enabled recording artists to increase the duration of their recorded songs. The breakthrough came with Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone". Although CBS tried to make the record more "radio friendly" by cutting the performance in half and spreading it over both sides of the vinyl, both Dylan and his fans demanded that the full six-minute take be placed on one side and that radio stations play the song in its entirety. The subsequent success of "Like a Rolling Stone" played a big part in changing the music business convention that single-song recordings had to be under three minutes in length.While we called the 45 a single, it would be a misnomer to believe that they were the only singles. Again, the Wiki knows all:
Singles have been issued in various formats, including 7-inch (18 cm), 10-inch (25 cm), and 12-inch (30 cm) vinyl discs (usually playing at 45 rpm); 10-inch (25-cm) shellac discs (playing at 78 rpm); cassette, 8 and 12 cm (3- and 5-inch) CD singles and 7-inch (18 cm) plastic flexi discs. Other, less common, formats include singles on digital compact cassette, DVD, and LD, as well as many non-standard sizes of vinyl disc (5-inch/12 cm, 8-inch/20 cm, etc.).The first single I ever bought with my own money was The Beach Boys' "I Get Around." It cost 49 cents at Kresge's, which was all the money I had left over after buying The Lovin' Spoonful's Greatest Hits.
The domination of the 45 continued until the album started to take over:
Perhaps the golden age of the single was on 45s in the 1950s to early 1960s in the early years of rock music. Starting in the mid-sixties, albums became a greater focus and more important as artists created albums of uniformly high quality and coherent themes, a trend which reached its apex in the development of the concept album. Over the 1990s and early 2000s, the single generally received less and less attention in the United States as albums, which on compact disc had virtually identical production and distribution costs but could be sold at a higher price, became most retailers' primary method of selling music. Singles continued to be produced in the UK and Australia, surviving the transition from compact disc to digital download.Now that vinyl is making a comeback, so are 45s. All hail the single!!!