the competition I faced with others’ books

Es­ti­mated reading time is 4 min­utes.

WHAT ABOUT COMPETITION? Frankly, there wasn’t much there, and what had come be­fore wasn’t to be feared! The first price guide to take on the field of rhythm & blues—at least that I was aware of—was an­other O’­Sul­livan Wood­side guide by Jerry Os­borne and Bruce Hamilton. This was fol­lowed by Jeff Kre­it­er’s self-published guide for group collectors.

Pub­lished by O’­Sul­livan Wood­side in 1980, Blues/Rhythm & Blues/Soul was a hodge­podge of ex­actly what the title said: blues records and rhythm & blues records and soul records. While al­most all of the artists were black, that’s about all they had in common—at least to record col­lec­tors. The prob­lems with the book were many, the biggest was a lack of focus.

Re­member two things while you are reading this:

1. I am trying to de­scribe the en­vi­ron­ment in which I con­ceived my blues and rhythm & blues book twenty years ago.

2. I am glossing over the genres of music below, as­suming the reader has some knowl­edge of the dif­fer­ence be­tween blues and soul music.


Osborne RB

Blues vs group vocal vs soul

Guys who col­lect straight blues sin­gles, col­lect just that: one person singing, usu­ally with a guitar, rarely with any kind of en­semble backing. Many of the most col­lec­table blues records are 78s of pre-WWII vin­tage. Group vo­cals and up­tempo music with bands backing the singer are usu­ally not on their radar. 1

On the op­po­site end are the group vocal afi­cionados: these guys col­lect mostly 4-part and 5-part vocal groups with a rhythm & blues-based sound. The records they seek are usu­ally 45s from the early ’50s. In fact, if a de­sired record first came out on 78 and was fol­lowed by a 45 (same record com­pany, same label, sim­ilar cat­alog number), the second press 45 is often more de­sir­able and valuable!

Soul music is gen­er­ally as­so­ci­ated with the ’60s and the guys who col­lect blues from the ’30 and ’40s and the guys who col­lect group vocal records from the ’50s rarely ever get in­ter­ested in even lis­tening to, let alone col­lecting, soul singers!

Cov­ering slow blues, bal­lads and up­tempo num­bers by vocal group vo­cals, rock & roll, and soul, Blues/Rhythm & Blues/Soul sat­is­fied al­most no one.


JeffKreiter GroupCollectorsPrice Guide 600

Group Collector’s Record Guide

The other price guide ap­peared in 1995: Jeff Kre­it­er’s 45 RPM Group Col­lec­tor’s Record Guide was self-published and looked at felt it. As the title in­di­cates, the book listed 45s of both black and white vocal groups from the ’50s and the ’60s. These records are re­ferred to by many names:

• group vocal records
• vocal group records
• r&b group records
• doo-wop records

There are a few others that were bandied about decades ago but are rarely used today. The ideal record in this genre is a ballad on a 45 recorded in the early ’50s by a 5-part, har­mo­nizing black group. But as the hobby grew, 4-part groups were ac­cepted as normal and, even­tu­ally, even some white groups found their way into the genre (for some col­lec­tors, not all).

Kre­it­er’s 45 RPM Group Col­lec­tor’s Record Guide only lists records with at least one ballad; records with up­tempo num­bers on both sides are not in­cluded. Which is fine: the field is spe­cific and the book meets a need. 2

The problem that many col­lec­tors had with the early edi­tions was that the au­thor would not as­sign values be­yond a cer­tain number. That is, Kre­iter as­signed a peak value which he would not go be­yond. Con­se­quently, any record listed with the book’s top value could be worth merely that value, or many times that value!

For ex­ample, if he set his peak value at $500, then $500 records would be listed with that value.

And $1,000 records—of which there are a great many in the field—would be listed with that value.

And $5,000 records—of which there are a sev­eral in the field—would be listed with that value.

For some records, he wisely listed them merely as Ne­go­tiable.

See the problem?

45 RPM Group Col­lec­tor’s Record Guide was (and is) a labor of love and a very im­por­tant and valu­able book. But I didn’t see it as com­pe­ti­tion, even though there would be over­lap­ping with mine. Be­cause I in­tended to place real—and very realistic—current market values on all those “ne­go­tiable” records. 3


Stereo5 45s 1500 1

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page was the most at­trac­tive pile of old 45s that I could find on the In­ternet and lift. Aside from making the page more at­trac­tive, it has no real rel­e­vance to the article.



1   Due to the na­ture of the field, se­rious blues col­lec­tors col­lect orig­inal 78s first and fore­most, as that was the only medium made avail­able to them until the mid 1950s. As most blues records were pur­chased by black fam­i­lies, and few black fam­i­lies at that time could af­ford to buy a new record-player (one that played 45s), these records were al­ways pressed as 78s and then later some were pressed as 45s, es­pe­cially if they sold well.

2   45 RPM Group Col­lec­tor’s Record Guide is cur­rently in its ninth edi­tion and still going strong!

3   While this may sound un­be­liev­able to many readers, it wasn’t that big of a deal with most of the group vocal col­lec­tors.  Few of them would ever see the re­ally rare records, so who cared what Kre­iter or Os­borne or even that up­start Umphred said they were worth!

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