Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Dr. Bob Prescribes: The Beatles 1

In Six, Short Years!

The Beatles in 1964
The Beatles in 1964 (if you need me to tell you their names, you’re too darn young!)

Yesterday’s Music History monday post concluded by observing that in the six short years between 1964 and 1970, the Beatles amassed a total of 20 number one songs on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, a number that here, 53 years later, remains a record.  

As a public service, here are the top 10 top ten performers with the most #1 hits:

  1. The Beatles: 20
  2. Mariah Carey: 19 
  3. Elvis Presley: 18 
  4. Rihanna: 14
  5. Michael Jackson: 13
  6. Diana Ross and the Supremes: 12
  7. Madonna: 12
  8. Whitney Houston: 11
  9. Stevie Wonder: 10
  10. Janet Jackson: 1

In addition to those songs that charted #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, the Beatles had an additional seven (further) number one songs on the UK Singles Record Retailer Chart, giving them a total of 27 number one songs on the combined US and UK charts.  When we consider that The Beatles, as a group, were together for not quite eight years – from August 18, 1962, to May 8, 1970, when the album Let it Be was released – that’s a level of popular and artistic success that’s just a bit insane.  

What makes that 27 number one hits so difficult to fathom – something that separates the Beatles entirely from the competition – is that they were all originals, songs written by three members of the band: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison.

27 original number one hits in eight years (a bit under eight years, actually) comes out to 3.38 per year for eight years, one number one hit every 15 weeks for eight consecutive years, a statistic I daresay will never, ever be equaled.  

It makes us want to say, “someone should issue a compilation recording containing all 27 of The Beatles’ number one hits, remastered for our listening pleasure, arrayed chronologically, illustrated with the record jackets, and accompanied with information regarding the recording dates and the dates spent as number one on the US and UK charts.”

I’m so glad we’ve said that because that’s exactly what was done on the prescribed disc!…

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