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The Stereo Singles Project, Part 1 Early Stereo 45s Discography (1958-1961) By Mike Callahan and Thomas Reed Last update: February 17, 2016 What a Mess...

What a Mess...

This is an attempt at a complete, comprehensive discography of stereo 45s issued in the United States between the years 1958 and 1961. We welcome additions and corrections. Both the major labels and smaller Independent labels issued stereo 45s. Columbia was a big exception for the majors, still stubbornly holding on to the 33-1/3 speed they introduced in 1948 and shunning their rival RCA's upstart 45 rpm speed.

During the years just after stereo was first demonstrated on vinyl disc (it had been available on reel-to-reel tape for several years before Audio Fidelity demonstrated the first stereo disc at Times Auditorium in New York City on December 13, 1957), the stereo single was pretty much experimental with about one stereo copy for every several hundred or even a thousand mono copies. Part of this was due to the higher cost of pressing up these special stereo disks, but also it was due to low demand by listeners. As stereo 45s were not compatible with mono 45s, expensive special stereo equipment was needed, which most households didn't have and couldn't afford. Basically, the general household of the late 1950s and early 1960s simply were not ready for the stereo 45.

If the households were not ready for it, neither were the record labels, who scrambled to launch "the next big thing." Were these things pressed and sold the same as mono singles? How shall we number them? Distribute them? Are they mostly for the new stereo juke boxes, or is there a commercial market?

There was little consistency to the releases across labels. Some companies used the same numbering system as the mono issues with just an "S" added to front or back of the number, or sometimes they couldn't make up their minds. In the case of ABC-Paramount, for example, they started with the S-9968 number, tried 45-9975S for a few issues, then finally settled on 45-S-9983 as their numbering format. Other companies had a special numbering system that differed completely from their mono counterparts, such as Dot, who started the 45-200 series for their stereo 45s, while mono counterparts were in the 15000 series. When a company just added an "S" to the mono counterpart for a stereo issue, it does not follow that all mono numbers from that series were issued in stereo, so the stereo discography often has gaps in the sequence.

Some companies had the same labels as the mono counterparts with a stereo overprint, such as Jamie, while other companies had a special label design for their stereo issues, such as Original Sound. Some labels, such as Capitol, used the same design but changed colors for the stereo version. Most stereo singles had mono counterparts, but both RCA and Roulette had stereo 45 series with no mono counterparts. And Roulette even changed one of their stereo 45 series to stereo 33s, using a continuation of the same stereo numbering sequence. What confusion for discographers!

Some record companies also printed up custom stereo sleeves for their stereo 45s (several examples of stereo sleeves are presented on this page). Apparently, some companies (like Warner Bros, shown at right), were caught off guard and used their stereo EP sleeves for early stereo single releases. Others, like Brunswick, even used the stereo EP blanks for labels (below, left).

The major labels seem to focus on issuing classical, jazz and adult contemporary popular male or female vocalists on the stereo 45. The majors generally ignored Rock And Roll, Rockabilly and Rhythm and Blues for stereo 45 releases. For example, artists such as Eddie Cochran (Liberty), Gene Vincent (Capitol), Buddy Knox (Roulette), Jimmy Bowen (Roulette), and Frankie Lymon (Roulette) all recorded in stereo for companies that released stereo 45s during this period, and they had single releases during the stereo 45 era, but had no stereo 45s issued. There were several reasons for this. First, the R&R, R&B and rockabilly artists were often still recording in mono (or having their recordings mixed to mono), so no stereo masters may have been available. This was the case for RCA Victor's biggest star Elvis Presley during 1958 and 1959, because most of Presley's pre-Army singles had either been recorded in mono or had only been mixed to mono at that time (some have been mixed to stereo years later). There was also research by record companies that indicated that the teenagers of the time didn't have the money or interest that adults had to purchase the stereo 45s. For these reasons, executives generally aimed the fledgling stereo 45s at the adult market, just as they did the stereo albums of the time.

About this Discography

This discography started as an article in Goldmine Magazine by Mike Callahan in 1979. Much research has been done since that article, by both Mike and Tom Reed, along with many others whose names appear at the bottom of this page, to bring the discography to its current state. As we've mentioned, we invite additions and corrections at the link below.

In order to be listed, a stereo single had to be issued commercially and in the standard 45 format (7" record with a "big hole"). Compact 33 stereo singles and jukebox stereo singles (with small hole) are covered in part 2 of this discography. 7" stereo extended play releases and any other odd formats are not included, with the exception of the Roulette series that started as stereo 45s, but changed to stereo 33s. Releases outside the United States are added as noted, but the non-US list at the bottom of this discography is not meant to be comprehensive.

Items in the discography below with "(U)" after the number are unconfirmed as to their actual release. They have been listed in Billboard or other guides as a stereo 45, but we have not verified their actual release. We would appreciate your notifying us if you can verify they actually exist.

The Billboard designations of stereo single availability was, shall we say, somewhat less than fastidiously accurate. Whoever did the listings, it was apparently an "other duties as assigned" kind of thing. Mistakes were made, and once the mistake was made, it followed that song every week until it left the charts; they were never corrected. For example, Columbia, who put out only stereo-33s, was listed some weeks as having stereo-45s. Weeks would go by with no new reporting, then all of a sudden lots of "new" singles would appear. And I suspect that some of the "phantom" stereo singles are mistakes from misreading the reporter's notes. For example, King Records reported Ruby Wright's "Three Stars" availability as a stereo single (it was not indicated as such on the Hot 100), but the availability being assigned instead to Tommy Dee's bigger hit of the same name. Likewise with King's version of Ruby Wright's "Goodbye, Jimmy, Goodbye" accidentally being assigned to the more popular Kathy Linden version. Ella Fitzgerald's "Mack the Knife" stereo-33 was accidentally reported as a stereo- 45, and on and on. After chasing phantom singles for over 50 years, sometimes you just conclude it was a mistake.

That said, because of the really small numbers of each of these singles released, especially starting in 1960, some actual releases may never turn up today. For that reason, we have not listed the 1960-61 singles with the designation "(U)" even if we've never seen a copy, unless there is a compelling reason to believe they were not issued. We have turned up few copies of the stereo 45s of 1960-61 other than those released on RCA or Mercury.

Songs noted as "(E)" in the list below are known to be rechanneled on the stereo single. We would also appreciate notification if any additional songs on stereo 45s are rechanneled.

We would appreciate any additions or corrections to this discography. Just send them to us via e-mail . Both Sides Now Publications is an information web page. We are not a catalog, nor can we provide the records listed below. We have no association with any of these record labels. Should you be interested in acquiring the stereo singles listed in this discography (which are all out of print), we suggest you see our Frequently Asked Questions page and follow the instructions found there. This story and discography are copyright 2014 by Mike Callahan.

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