Most Valuable 45 RPM Records That Will Make Your Head Spin

These records may be small, but their values are mighty.

Published April 14, 2023
45 rpm records

There's never been a better time to be alive if you're a fan of vintage vinyl. Old vinyl records are more popular and valuable than ever. You might not have considered just how much the most valuable 45 RPM records are worth, but the price tags may shock you.

Most Valuable 45 RPM Records You Might Have

Most Valuable 45 RPM Records Recent Sales Price
The Beatles "Ask Me Why/Anna (Got to Him)" $35,000
Frank Wilson "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)/Sweeter as the Days Go By" ~$30,000
Robert Plant & The Band of Joy "Memory Lane" $4,000
Elvis Presley "That's All Right/Blue Moon of Kentucky" $1,314.50

While vinyl records have been around since the 1930s, 45 RPMs (or 45s as we usually call them) didn't come onto the scene until 1949. Only 7" in diameter, 45s are compact but powerful records that were sturdier than the previous shellac 78 RPMs. Because they can only hold a few minutes of music on either side, they launched the singles industry that we know today. Vintage 45s can be worth thousands of dollars, like these four iconic discs are.

The Beatles' "Ask Me Why/Anna (Go to Him)"

Unsurprisingly, one of the most valuable 45 RPM records in all of music history is a Beatles' single. Most people remember one of the Beatles' first singles with its double-sided track list "Please, Please Me/Ask Me Why." But the comparable 45 pressings made on the Vee-Jay Record Label didn't feature "Please, Please Me" but an "Ask Me Why/Anna (Go to Him)" combination instead.

These promo 45s are incredibly rare in the Beatles American vinyl catalog and frequently sell for thousands of dollars. Take this almost pristine copy that sold in 2012 for $35,000, for example.

old records and cassette tapes

Frank Wilson's "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)/Sweeter as the Days Go By"

Motown superfans recognize the name Frank Wilson. An absolute legendary music producer, writer, and later musician himself, Frank Wilson might not carry the cultural weight of acts like Marvin Gaye and the Temptations do, but he's got one of the rarest 45s from the era.

In 1965, Wilson recorded the single "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)" for the subsidiary label Soul. Only about 250 demos were pressed, but Berry Gordy's controlling interference and Wilson's desire to continue producing meant that the copies were set to be destroyed. Yet, at least two are known to survive today. In 2009, a copy sold for about $30,000. Should another of these 45s come to auction, it'd likely sell for just as much, if not more.

Robert Plant & The Band of Joy's "Memory Lane"

Before the lion-maned vocal savant landed in a little-known band called Led Zeppelin, he bopped from band to band, developing his iconic sound. One of these early ventures was with the Birmingham band Band of Joy.

John Bonham later joined him with the Band of Joy and together, they recorded two covers and two original compositions. Any of these acetates are worth a fair amount to Zep superfans. In 2010, the 45 RPM single-sided copy of "Memory Lane" sold in a Bonham's auction for around $4,000.

Elvis Presley's "That's All Right/Blue Moon of Kentucky"

Before Elvis's musical stomping grounds were the Las Vegas strip, the King of Rock 'n Roll nurtured his act at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. Head back to 1954 when a young Elvis with a penchant for gospel-inspired deliveries laid down his first two professional tracks: "That's All Right" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky."

This single put Elvis on the map, but it was far from the level of hits he'd have later in his career. Early pressings of his debut single are worth varying amounts. They're not terribly rare, but thanks to Elvis' notoriety, they always sell well. For example, one 45 sold for $1,314.50 on Heritage Auctions.

Tips and Tricks for Picking Out Vintage 45 RPM Records

couple at a record shop

Aside from the label, vinyl records all look the same to the untrained eye. You've probably spent hours flipping through your stacks of vintage records only to come away empty-handed. Turns out, you just didn't know what to look for. Here are some easy tips to help you spot a valuable 45 RPM record right away.

  • Search for records from famous artists. If you come across a 45 from a famous musician, there's always a chance that it'll be worth something, but sometimes you can really strike gold.
  • Look for promo copies. These records usually have some phrase like "promotional copy" or "not for sale" listed on their labels and are special because they always come from a smaller batch.
  • Don't toss away the early artists. If you're really interested in finding valuable 45s, you need to familiarize yourself with early artists who were notable in their time but might not be household names today because their original work can bring in top dollar.

The 45s You Dream of Owning

So many of us started our vintage record collections with donations of copies from our parents' own stash. Continue spreading the generational love by browsing through theirs to see if you can find any hidden 45 RPM record gems you'd want to rescue from the basement boxes.

Most Valuable 45 RPM Records That Will Make Your Head Spin