Before cassettes, before compact discs, and WAY before iPods, we had vinyl
Just as a refresher, 45s were different than LPs, or long-playing records.
An LP had a small hole poked in the center, like this (pictured at
45s had much larger holes in the center, a holdover from jukebox
mechanisms. LPs played at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute, while 45s
played at (you guessed it!) 45 RPM. Some older records played at 78 RPM,
but the ones we generally remember are 45s and LPs.
LP albums were awesome, but they had one big drawback. You had to pick up
the arm of the record player, lift it ever-so-gently, and replace it
with the skill of a brain surgeon when you wanted to skip around and
find a particular song. Anything less than perfect precision would
result in scratches on your cherished vinyl. It’s a skill that’s
challenging for many adults, never mind fidgety seven-year olds. LPs
were bound to get hopelessly mangled by kids.
Enter the 45!
45s just had one song on each side, so there was none of that tricky
lift-and-replace action with the phonograph arm. With just the pop of a
45 insert, you could play your 45 on a grown-up record player. Today,
these inserts are a popular upcycling trend – check out this pendant:
But you probably had a 45 player all to yourself so you wouldn’t destroy
your dad’s fancy hi-fi. 45 record players had fat inner discs to
accommodate 45 records’ large center cut-outs, but many also had a
convertible feature that would allow you to play LPs. You could unlock
and twist down the inner rim of the record player. Then just a skinny
post was exposed and you were good to go with LPs as well. (You also had
to change the speed from 45 to 33 in order to play an LP instead of a
In the eighties, there were loads of 45s targeted to kids, in addition to
single records by our favorite bands. I had a suitcase-style portable 45
player with a denim-look cardboard case and a small but prized
collection of 45 records. They were a coveted birthday party gift for
kids in the 80s. I remember saving up roughly thirty bazillion tickets
at Showbiz Pizza Place (a forerunner of Chuck E. Cheese) to buy Hall and
Oates “One on One” from the ticket redemption counter. The 45 single of
“Feed the World” was a very popular Christmas gift in 1984, at least
among sixth graders at my elementary school. I also recall a 45 of Adam
Ant’s “Puss n’ Boots” being a hot prize at the Girl Scouts’ costume
contest during summer camp.
The Read Along Book and Record was an AWESOME, AWESOME activity for kids
in the early 80s. We’d listen so carefully for that tone – don’t turn
the page before you hear it! - and read right along. I had Treasure
Island, Chipmunks, and Caspar the Friendly Ghost book and record sets
that I loved oh-so-much.
By the mid-eighties, vinyl records were on their way out. We played
cassette tapes in our cars and Walkmans and that pretty much spelled
doom for records. Sure, they’re still admired and still being produced
http://thirdmanrecords.com/about/, which is more than eight-tracks can
say. Vintage vinyl has its share of current collectors, including both
my husband and my 16-year old, but vinyl records are mostly a
thing of the past. And that totally makes collecting them extra
nostalgic and fun.
It’s easy to build your own collection of eighties 45 records today. Scope
out Etsy and Ebay for tons of choices, like a-ha’s 1984 hit, “Take on
Recycle or upcycle them, collect or trade them, and even decorate
with them, 45 records are a sweet slice of our childhoods that will
never, ever be forgotten. The best use for them, of course, is playing
awesome 80s hits like Billy Joel’s
Keeping the Faith from 1984:
I'm going to listen to my 45s Ain't it wonderful to be alive
When the rock 'n' roll plays...