On 16th January 2005, Elvis Presley achieved the one-thousandth Number One since the inception of the UK singles chart in 1952.
This area of everyHit.com is a celebration of the first 1000 chart-toppers. Most of the information on this page has been collated from details elsewhere on this site with the odd new piece or two for good measure.
These are tumultuous times for the single. One week early in January, 265,000 were sold in the UK; the lowest total since national weekly figures were first extrapolated early in 1969. In the week immediately after Christmas, monitored legal downloads overtook sales of physical CD singles for the first time ever. As we reflect on the 1000th chart topper, the single faces the most spectacular change in its long history - but one which it is seems sure to ride. (The problem isn't so much a lack of interest in / desire to 'own' modern music but, rather, how transactions are accurately quantified; the distribution of music has expanded spectacularly through a proliferation of, mostly, unaudited routes... the 'illegal downloads.') We'll have more on the history of the single's changing formats later but, for now, let's wallow in facts and figures from the past 52 years!
By a very odd coincidence, it turned out that Elvis Presley not only had the 1000th Number One that week ("One Night / I Got Stung") but, that very same week, he also became the first artist to have spend 1000 weeks in the Top 40!
If that morsel has whetted your appetite for Number One facts then you're in the right place; this page is full of them! Here, you will learn that the 'average' chart-topper has spent 2.7 weeks at number one, 7.5 weeks in the Top 10, and 12.4 inside the Top 40. If you think that's trivial then you should just see what follows! Enjoy!
You can also browse the 1000 number ones chronologically:
There is a league table of the first 1000 number ones, arranged in order of chart success as they stood in that historic week:
You can find out what was at number 1 in the singles chart (and the sheet music chart before it) in our '60 years of number ones' date engine Click here to see it.
Here's more essential reading... brace yourself!...
All of the records listed below have been 'frozen' as they were on the week of the 1000th number one. To see updates, please visit our main records page.
Here we give the essentials of various records held by artists - more detail is available here.
Most Number 1s
This, possibly, the most important record, is held by Elvis Presley. He has had 20 chart-toppers, 18 of them different songs ("Jailhouse Rock" "One Night/I Got Stung" topped the chart on two distinctly separate chart runs in 1958/9 and 2005). The Beatles are the top group with 17 number 1s. Madonna is the top woman with 10. Top female group is The Spice Girls with 9.
It is worth pointing out that Paul McCartney has featured on more Number 1s than any other artist. He loses out in this section due to his diverse range of credits. He has, in fact, appeared on 24 Number 1s; solo (1), with Wings (1), Stevie Wonder, The Christians et al (1), Ferry Aid (1), Band Aid (1), Band Aid 20 (1) and The Beatles (17).
Artist with Most Weeks at Number 1
Top solo artist - and number one overall - is Elvis Presley. He has topped the chart for a total of 79 weeks (as of this week - w/e 22nd Jan 2005). Top group is The Beatles (69 weeks). Top female performer is Madonna (21 weeks). In his many different manifestations, however, Paul McCartney has spent 93 weeks at the top.
Most Consecutive Number 1s
7 - by The Beatles and Westlife.
The Beatles' stretch began with "A Hard Day's Night" in 1964 and lasted to "Yellow Submarine"/"Eleanor Rigby" in 1966. The run was broken when "Penny Lane"/"Strawberry Fields Forever" merely made the number 2 position the following year!
Westlife's stint began with their debut, "Swear it Again" in 1999 and ran through to "My Love" in November 2000 (though one hit was a 'duet' with Mariah Carey). It was broken by "What Makes A Man" which peaked at number 2 the following month. Top female group is The Spice Girls (6 in a row from "Wannabe" through to "Too Much").
Longest Span of Number 1 Singles
47 years, 6 months and 9 days. Held by Elvis Presley. His first number 1 was "All Shook Up" in 1957 (w/e 13th July). His curent chart-topper is the reissue of "One Night / I Got Stung" in 2005 (w/e 22nd Jan).
Longest span for a female artist with solo credit is 15 Years, 9 Months,
and 23 Days for Kylie Minogue (ie. 825 weeks from "I Should Be So Lucky", 23rd Jan 1988 to "Slow"; 15th Nov 2003).
If we allow 'credits' on singles rather than solo performances, Cher easily takes the record. Her duet with Sony, "I Got You Babe" (Aug 1965) to "Believe" (Oct-Dec 1998) gives a total span of 33 years, 3 months, and 14 days [ie. 1738 weeks].
First Artist To Enter At Number 1
Al Martino's "Here In My Heart" was the track to Top the first ever chart (Nov 1952) so, technically, this was the first track to debut at Number 1. But ignoring this, the first artist to enter at Number 1 in the established chart was Elvis Presley ("Jailhouse Rock", Jan 1958).
First Artist To Enter At Number 1 With Consecutive Releases
Slade. In 1973 they debuted at the top with both "Cum On Feel The Noize" and "Skweeze Me Pleeze Me."
Fastest Hat-Trick of Number 1s
Following his death in December 1980, there was an almost frenzied buying of singles recorded by John Lennon. This resulted in him topping the chart no fewer than three times within an 8 week period ["(Just Like) Starting Over" w/e 20th Dec 1980; "Imagine" w/e 10th Jan 1981; "Woman" w/e 7th Feb 1981.]
First Artist To Enter At Number 1 With A Hat-Trick of Consecutive Releases
Take That. In fact, from July 1993 to April 1994, all four of their single releases went straight in at No.1 ("Pray", "Relight My Fire" [featuring Lulu], "Babe", "Everything Changes"). The band repeated this feat in the period from Oct 1994 to March 1996.
Most Entries at Number 1
From May 1999 to November 2003, Westlife entered the chart at No. 1 on 12 occasions.
First Entry At Number 1 By A Debuting Act
Excluding Al Martino, who was No. 1 in the first ever chart, Billy Preston was the first artist to enter at No. 1 with a debut single. To be fair, he performed the song ("Get Back," 1969) with The Beatles and so, quite literally, can't claim the entire credit for this feat. The Band Aid charity ensemble made its debut at No. 1 ("Do They Know It's Christmas?", 1984) but this comprised a number of already successful artistes.
The first act to make its chart debut at No. 1 on its own 'merit' was the Danish vocalist Whigfield (1994). Her song "Saturday Night" (with its associated dance) had been huge on the continent for some months and the demand from Brits returning home built up an enormous head of steam prior to its release.
Most Entries at Number 1 by a Debuting Act
On 11 Nov 2000, Westlife became the first act to have their first seven singles enter the chart at Number 1 as "My Love" crashed in at the top spot.
First Act To Reach Number 1 With Their First Three Releases
Gerry And The Pacemakers. Their debut single, "How Do You Do It?" was released in March 1963. After five weeks it made number 1. It was followed later that year by "I Like It" and "You'll Never Walk Alone" (both topped the charts four weeks after first appearing in the Top 40).
This feat was not matched until 21 years later when Frankie Goes To Hollywood took each of their first three singles to the top (1984).
Self-Replacement At Number One
On nine occasions in history, one title by an act has knocked another hit, by the same act, off the number one spot:
Ray Conniff and his Orchestra (Jan 1957) "Just Walking In The Rain" replaced by "Singing The Blues."
Norrie Paramor and the string section of his orchestra (Mar 1963) - "The Wayward Wind" was replaced by "Summer Holiday."
The Shadows (Aug 1960) "Please Don't Tease" knocked off the top spot by "Apache."
The Shadows (Jan 1963) "The Next Time" / "Bachelor Boy" replaced by "Dance On!"
The Shadows (Mar 1963) "Summer Holiday" replaced by "Foot Tapper."
The Shadows (Apr 1963) "Foot Tapper" replaced by "Summer Holiday."
The Beatles (Dec 1963) "She Loves You" replaced by "I Want To Hold Your Hand."
John Lennon (Feb 1981) "Imagine" replaced by "Woman."
Elvis Presley (Jan 2005) "Jailhouse Rock" replaced by "One Night" / "I Got Stung."
Precise credits given on this page.
Longest Gap Between Number 1s
31 years 0 months - for George Harrison. "My Sweet Lord" first made the top spot in Jan 1971. A few weeks after his death, it returned to number 1 (Jan 2002).
In second place is the act which also holds the record for the longest gap between number 1s with different tracks and the record for longest gap between number 1s within the lifetime of the artist(s); The Righteous Brothers (25 years 8 months). In Feb 1965 they hit the top with "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'". They didn't return until 1990 - with "Unchained Melody".
The longest run between original number 1s (i.e not a re-release) is 18 years and 3 months for Blondie (Nov 1980, "The Tide is High", to Feb 1999, "Maria").
Longest Time To Get To Number 1
Jackie Wilson first entered the chart on 15th Nov 1957 with "Reet Petite (The Sweetest Girl In Town)." He finally made Number 1 (coincidentally with the same track) on w/e 27th Dec 1986 - 29 Years, 1 Month, and 12 Days later; a record for any soloist.
The longest time for a female soloist to take to reach Number 1 is 25 Years,
8 Months and 15 Days for Cher [from her first solo hit, "All I Really Want To Do", 19th Aug 1965 to "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)", 4th May 1991]. She had, though, previously topped the chart as half of Sonny and Cher before going solo.
In terms of contributing to a Number 1:
Ozzy Osbourne holds the male record. He first hit the Top 40 as a member of Black Sabbath with "Paranoid" on w/e 12th Sep 1970. 33 years, 3 months and 8 days later (w/e 20th Dec 2003; a total of 1736 weeks) he achieved the top spot with "Changes" (a duet with daughter Kelly - and a version of a Black Sabbath album track from 1972).
Posthumous Number 1s
A morbid one - but one about which, nonetheless, we receive constant emails. Ten artists have topped the chart following their death. There is a list on this page.
On 20th January 2002, George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" replaced Aaliyah's "More Than A Woman" at the top spot. This is the only time in chart history that one deceased artist has taken over from another at number 1 (though John Lennon and Elvis Presley have each replaced themselves at no. 1 posthumously.)
These are artists who had one number one single and have been involved in no other hit ('hit' here meaning a Top 40 placing). There are sixty-nine such artists. Again, there is a full list on this page.
Most Successful Acts Not To Have A Number 1 Single
Depeche Mode have had most Top 40 hits without making No. 1 (37 of them!). In fact, they've never risen above No. 4.
Billy Fury has spent 231 weeks on the Top 40. No other artist has spent longer on the chart without making No. 1. His best chart placing was Number 2 for "Jealousy" in 1961.
Special mention must also go to Sash! who has made Number 2 on five occasions. No other artist has been 'runner up' with so many singles without ever making it to Number 1.
(Jon) Bon Jovi has featured on eighteen Top 10 singles but never made the number 1 position. One hit behind, Janet Jackson has appeared on seventeen Top 10 singles without reaching the top spot.
Little Jimmy Osmond. He was just 9 years and 8 months young when he hit the summit in 1972 with "Long Haired Lover From Liverpool."
Youngest female chart-topper is Helen Shapiro who took "You Don't Know" to the top at the tender age of 14 years and 10 months.
Jessica Smith played the part of 'Baby Sun' in the Teletubbies TV programme. Her giggle was used on The Teletubbies 1997 chart-topper "Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh!" Though not credited for this 'performance,' she is the youngest person to have appeared on a no.1 single. We are currently trying to ascertain her precise age at the time of recording; it is certainly less than 1 year old and thought to be around the 7 month mark. If you're reading this Jessica, please let us know!
Youngest Performer to Enter at Number 1
Billie (Piper); she was 15 years and 287 days when she entered the chart at number 1 on 5th July 1998 with "Because We Want To." Youngest male to do so is Gareth Gates. He was 17 years and 255 days old when he debuted at number 1 with "Unchained Melody" on 24th March 2002.
Louis Armstrong who was 66 years and 10 months when he peaked with "What A Wonderful World"/"Cabaret" in Feb 1968.
Oldest woman is Cher who was 52 years and 7 months when she hit the number 1 spot with "Believe" (1999).
Here we give the essentials of records held by various titles - more detail is available here.
All-Time Best-Selling Number One
"Candle In The Wind '97" by Elton John (1997; 4.86 million copies). Top seller by a group; "Do They Know It's Christmas?" - Band Aid (1984; 3.55m) Biggest-seller by a female artist: "Believe" - Cher (1998; 1.67m). Biggest-selling no.1 by an all-female group is "Wannabe" by The Spice Girls (1996; 1.27m).
Most Weeks at Number 1 by a Record
18 - by Frankie Laine's "I Believe". It topped the chart on three separate occasions (all in 1953).
Most Consecutive Weeks at Number 1 by a Record
16 - by Bryan Adams' "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" (1991).
Longest Time To Get To Number 1
29 Years, 1 Month, and 11 Days. Jackie Wilson's "Reet Petite (The Sweetest Girl In Town)" first entered the chart on 16th Nov 1957 when it peaked at number 6. Its use in a Levis ad in 1986 catapulted it back into the chart to top it on 27th Dec 1986.
The slowest climb to the top in a single spell inside the Top 40 is 13 weeks for Celine Dion's "Think Twice" (Nov 1994 to Feb 1995).
Title With Most Weeks At Number One
"I Believe" has spent 22 weeks at the top of the chart (18 weeks for Frankie Lane, in three separate visits throughout 1953) and 4 weeks for Robson & Jerome (1995).
Runner up is "Unchained Melody" which has spent 18 weeks at the summit by four different artists.
Topping The Chart By Different Artists
Only one track has topped the chart by four different artists. It is "Unchained Melody". Artists to take it to number one in the UK are:
Jimmy Young (1955), Righteous Brothers (as a re-issue in 1990), Robson & Jerome (1995) and Gareth Gates (2002).
32 other titles have topped the chart more than once by different artists. There is a full list on this page.
Same Version Topping The Chart More Than Once
Only foure chart-topping tracks have ever left the chart and then returned to top it a second time with exactly the same arrangement. They are:
"My Sweet Lord" by George Harrison (1971 and 2002; though with different 'B-sides'),
"Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen (1975 and 1991, though on the latter occasion it was a double-A side with "These Are The Days Of Our Lives"), and
"Jailhouse Rock" by Elvis Presley (1958 and 2005; with the same B-side but a new catalogue number.)
"One Night / I Got Stung" by Elvis Presley (1959 and 2005; with the same B-side but a new catalogue number.)
First Number 1 by a British Artist
The seventh ever number one, The Stargazers' "Broken Wings" (Apr 1953), was the first chart-topper by a British artist. The previous six had all been by US acts.
Biggest Jump To Number 1 from within the Top 40
The biggest jump to no. 1 from within the Top 40 was by Captain Sensible's "Happy Talk". In July 1982 it shot to the top from no. 33.
Most Successive Weeks With A New Number 1
From 24th June 2000 to 16th Sep 2000, every week saw a new record top the chart. This run of 13 new number ones in as many weeks is the longest of such instances in chart history.
Most Number 1s In A Year
2000 also holds the record for most number ones in a year; 42 of them (43 if you count the Westlife track which spanned over from 1999).
Number One In Most Years
Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" is the only record to be number one in four different years 1975, 1976, 1991 & 1992 (as it spanned the New year period on both occupancies at number one).
Lowest-Selling Number One
Lowest selling No.1 in total since is Ja Rule featuring R Kelly & Ashanti, "Wonderful". Entering the chart w/e 6th Nov 2004 it went on to sell a total of 65,000 copies. Prior to the slump in singles sales which occurred from late 2002 onwards, the lowest selling no. 1 (since at least 1960) had been Iron Maiden's "Bring Your Daughter... To The Slaughter"; it sold around 100,000. This record could have potentially fallen many times over the next few weeks as the current crop of Elvis Presley re-issues have been limited to 27,500. They are saved from this fate by the sales from their original appearance at no.1 which significantly raise their overall total.
Lowest weekly sale for a no. 1 since at least 1960 is for the 2005 re-issue of "One Night" / "I Got Stung" by Elvis Presley; ironically, the 1000th Number 1. It sold just 20,463 copies in its first week at no. 1 (w/e 22nd Jan 2005).
Biggest-Seller Not To Make Number One
Wham's "Last Christmas" was held off the top spot by Band Aid's huge sales in 1984. Almost any other week it would have easily topped the chart, selling half a million copies in that week alone; more than 21 times the number of copies than were able to get the aforementioned Ja Rule single to no. 1 twenty years later!
Shortest Chart Stay For A Number 1
Blur's 1997 chart-topper, "Beetlebum" disappeared from the whole top 40 just 3 weeks after debuting at number one. In its second week it dropped to number 7. It then descended to number 29 before vanishing altogether. This record could potentially be beaten by the current crop of Elvis Presley re-issues. They are limited editions of just 27,500 and sustained chart runs seems a little unlikely (though they have, of course, been in the chart for many weeks in their original guise).
Biggest Fall From Number 1
After Christmas 1957, Harry Belafonte's "Mary's Boy Child" tumbled from No. 1 to No. 12; the biggest ever fall from the top spot.
Here we give more miscellany about chart-toppers - similar ramblings about the Top 40 can be found here.
Parents / Offspring / Siblings Topping The Chart
You may also be interested in the quirks of the number one positon here.
Only one father / son combination has ever topped the charts each in their own right. Julio Iglesias topped the chart with "Begin The Beguine" in Nov 1981. More than twenty years later in February 2002, his son, Enrique hit number 1 with "Hero".
There are instances of parents/offspring topping the charts on the same track. Nancy Sinatra & Frank Sinatra hit number one with "Somethin' Stupid" in 1967.
Five years later Coventry band Lieutenant Pigeon made number one with "Mouldy Old Dough"; in this group was Rob Woodward and his mum, Hilda. Both played keyboards.
In 2003 Ozzy Osbourne and his daughter Kelly hit the top spot with "Changes," a remake of a track first sung by Ozzy on the Black Sabbath album "Volume 4" in 1972.
A mother-daughter combination is yet to reach the summit either separately or on the same disc.
But wait! One entire family consisting of mum, dad, son and daughters has in fact topped the chart; The Simpsons with "Do The Bartman" in Jan 1991! Now we're in a quandary; do cartoon characters count? D'oh!
Only three pairs of siblings have ever achieved separate solo number ones. They are:
- Eden Kane (real name Richard Sarstedt) ("Well I Ask You" in 1961) and his younger brother Peter Sarstedt ("Where Do You Go To My Lovely" in 1969).
- Donny Osmond ("Puppy Love" in 1972; "The Twelfth Of Never" in 1973; "Young Love" in 1973) and his younger brother Little Jimmy Osmond ("Long Haired Lover From Liverpool" in 1972)
- Daniel Bedingfield ("Gotta Get Thru This" in 2001; "If You're Not The One" in 2002; "Never Gonna Leave Your Side" in 2003) and his younger sister Natasha ("These Words" in 2004).
Artist having hits as a Solo, Duo, Trio, Quartet, Quintet etc
Paul McCartney not only had hits but topped the chart in each of the following guises; solo, duo, trio, quartet, quintet, sextet and other ensembles! Details on this page.
Longest Playing Time For A Number One
Oasis' "All Around The World" (1998) has a duration of 9 minutes 38 seconds.
The first Number 1 to have a playing time of more than four minutes was Harry Belafonte's "Mary's Boy Child" (1957; 4 mins 12 secs).
Shortest Hit Single
The shortest chart-topper is Adam Faith's "What Do You Want" from 1959 (1 minute, 38 seconds).
Number One Word Records
Longest Artist / Title:
The Pipes And Drums And The Military Band Of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guard (61 letters) hit number one in 1972 with "Amazing Grace".
Scott McKenzie's 1967 chart-topper "San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair)" is the longest title (45 letters).
Excluding the above "Amazing Grace," The longest artist-song combination is 'Emile Ford And The Checkmates' + "What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For?" This 60-letter combo topped the chart in 1960.
Cliff Richard's "Congratulations" (1968) is the longest single-word title and is also the longest (legitimate) word to appear in the title of a chart-topper..
Shortest Artist / Title:
Shortest names of chart-topping artists are 'U2' and 'A1'.
Shortest number 1 title is "If" by Telly Savalas (1975)
Shortest combinations (all 8 characters) are "Doop" by Doop (1994), "Oh Boy" - Mud (1975), "Desire" - U2 (1988) and "The Fly" - U2 (1992).
Words Featured In Titles:
The words featured in the titles of most no. 1 singles are "The" (163), "You" (109) and "I" (87).
The words which most often start titles are "The" (55), "I" (49) and "You" (17).
Average Length Of Titles:
The average chart-topping title consists of 3.4 words / 18.1 letters.
Record Being Replaced At Number One By Another Containing Its Title
The 'classic' "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen contains the famous "mamma mia, mamma mia, mamma mia let me go" line. In January 1976, it was replaced at the top of the chart by none other than Abba's "Mamma Mia". There are other less dramatic examples of this phenomenon; see this page.
First Self-Penned Number 1
Mantovani's "Cara Mia" (July 1954; the 20th no. 1); it was composed by Mantovani and Bunny Lewis (under pen names Tulio Trapani and Lee Lange respectively).
Not until the 43rd Number 1 was an act entirely responsible for writing its own chart-topper; The Dreamweavers' "It's Almost Tomorrow" (March 1956).
Over twenty-eight years later Stevie Wonder became the first artist ever to write, produce and entirely perform a Number 1 ("I Just Called To Say I Love You", Sep 1984).
Eponymous Number Ones
When Mr. Blobby went to number one with "Mr Blobby" in 1993 it was the first time in 41 years of chart history that an eponymously title song achieved this feat. However, less than four months "Doop" hit number one by a band called Doop!
Biggest Chart-Topper By A Non-Human Artist
In terms of chart success, this coveted title goes to The Archies for "Sugar Sugar" which spent 8 weeks at number 1 in 1969 (and stayed in the Top 40 for 22 weeks).
Created for mass consumption by bubblegum-pop genius Don Kirshner (the man who gave us the Monkees), the Archies existed on television as an animated series based on the comic book characters of the same name. The voices behind the singing cartoon characters were vocalists Ron Dante, Toni Wine and Andy Kim.
The biggest-selling number one by a non-human group is "Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh" by The Teletubbies (1997, 1.1 million copies).
Most Graceful Retreat From Number 1
In chart history, four singles haven fallen from the Number 1 spot by one position for four consecutive weeks (ie. No. 1 to No. 2 to 3, 4, 5). They are:
Dickie Valentine - "Finger Of Suspicion" (1954) [1-2-3-4-5-5-4-9-17]
Tommy Edwards - "It's All In The Game" (1958) [1-2-3-4-5-4-8-11-15-27]
Michael Jackson - "You Are Not Alone" (1995) [1-2-3-4-5-7-9-13-25-30-31]
Eminem - "The Real Slim Shady" (2000) [1-2-3-4-5-7-8-10-11-15-23-33-38]
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