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Record Breakers and Trivia : Singles : Artists : Number 1s
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Most Number 1s
This, possibly the most important record, is held by Elvis Presley. He has had 21 chart-toppers, 18 of them different songs (three titles have topped the chart on two distinctly separate chart runs as part of the series of re-issues to commemorate what would have been Elvis' 70th birthday in 2005). You can see how this record has 'changed hands' over the years here.

The Beatles are the top group with 17 number 1s. Madonna is the top woman with 13 (as of April 2008). Top female group is The Spice Girls with 9.

Only seven acts in chart history have got into double figures with their tally of chart-toppers. They are: Elvis Presley (21, 18 different songs), The Beatles (17), Cliff Richard (14 : six of them with The Shadows, one with The Drifters, one with The Young Ones), Westlife (14 : one of them with Mariah Carey), Madonna (13), The Shadows (11 : six of them with Cliff Richard, two of these also with The Norrie Paramor Strings) and Take That (11: one featuring Lulu).
Westlife hold the record for getting into double-figures in the shortest time (2 years and 10 months [ie. 149 weeks] - more than 3 months quicker than The Beatles (who took 165 weeks). Unlike Westlife, however, The Beatles tended to spend several weeks at the summit, slowing down their release rate.)

It is worth pointing out that Paul McCartney has appeared on more Number 1s than any other artist under a 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).

In total, twenty-one artists have appeared on ten or more number one singles. They are:
Paul McCartney (24), Elvis Presley (21), John Lennon (20), George Harrison (18), Ringo Starr (16), Cliff Richard (15), Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan, Mark Feehily, Shane Filan (14), Robbie Williams, Madonna (13), Gary Barlow, Brian McFadden (12), Mel C , Geri Halliwell (11), Mel B, Emma Bunton, Howard Donald, Jason Orange, Mark Owen (10).

Artist with Most Weeks at Number 1
It's Elvis Presley. He has topped the chart for a total of 80 weeks (as of w/e 5th Feb 2005).
Top group is The Beatles (69 weeks). Top female performer is Madonna (29 weeks - as of w/e 17th May 2008).
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.

Beatles fans are, however, quick to point out that "Ain't She Sweet" (which made number 29 in 1964) was recorded in 1961, well before their EMI contract. It was issued by Polydor to 'cash in' on the success of the fab four. Fans argue that this was not an "official" Beatles release. If this logic is accepted (though the track did make the charts), The Beatles run of successive number ones begins with "From Me To You" in April 1963 - making a total of 11.

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 23 days. Held by Elvis Presley. His first number 1 was "All Shook Up" in 1957 (w/e 13th June). His most recent chart-topper was the re-issue of "It's Now Or Never" in 2005 (w/e 5th Feb).
Runner up is Cliff Richard. His first chart-topper was "Living Doll" in 1959. His latest was "The Millennium Prayer" in 1999, a span of 40, 4 months and 15 days. (+ 21 days for total span).

Longest span for a female artist with solo credit is Madonna on 20 Years, 7 Months, 1 Day (from "Into The Groove", 3rd Aug 1985 to "Sorry", 4th March 2006 - ie. a total span of 1074 weeks). [NB: if we include "4 Minutes" - which also credited Justin Timberlake, the span runs through to 10th May 2008 (22 years, 9 Months, 13 Days) but then this record is broken by Cher - see below.]
Kyie Minogue is still both popular and productive and, on 15 Years, 9 Months, and 23 Days (ie. 825 weeks from "I Should Be So Lucky", 23rd Jan 1988 to "Slow"; 15th Nov 2003), regularly poses a threat to Madonna in this regard.

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].
Also worthy of a mention is Tammy Wynette. Her single "Stand By Your Man" made no. 1 in 1975. She was a guest vocalist on the 'various artists' single "Perfect Day" which topped the chart in 1997-8 (22 Years, 7 Months, 24 Days - ie. 1183 weeks).
Diana Ross, though not individually credited, provided vocals on the Supremes 1964 chart-topper "Baby Love". She most recently had a solo no. 1 with "Chain Reaction" in 1986 (21 Years, 4 Months, 1 Day - or 1114 weeks - total span).

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
A one-a-week series of re-issued Elvis Presley singles in 2005 enabled him to have three different chart-toppers in just four weeks; ("Jailhouse Rock" w/e 15th Jan; "One Night" / "I Got Stung" w/e 22nd Jan; "It's Now Or Never" w/e 5th Feb).

The record for the fastest hat-trick of non re-issued number ones is held by John Lennon. Following his death in December 1980, there was an almost frenzied buying of his singles. 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" (a re-entry but nevertheless, not a re-issue, 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 2006, Westlife entered the chart at No. 1 on 14 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.

First British act to debut at No. 1 was Robson & Jerome ("Unchained Melody" / "White Cliffs Of Dover", 1995). First solo male to debut at No. 1 was Babylon Zoo (a name used by British vocalist/multi-instrumentalist, Jas Mann) with "Spaceman" (1996). First British female act to make her debut at No. 1 was Billie ("Because We Want To", 1998). First all-girl group to make their chart debut at No. 1 was the Irish quartet B*Witched (with "C'est La Vie") in 1998. First British all-girl group to make its debut at No. 1 was Girls Aloud ("Sound Of The Underground", 2002).

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 Hollwood 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."

    NB: Full credits:
    -"Just Walking In The Rain" - Johnnie Ray, Ray Conniff and his Orchestra / "Singing The Blues" - Guy Mitchell, Ray Conniff and his Orchestra.
    - "The Wayward Wind" - Frank Ifield, with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra / "Summer Holiday" - Cliff Richard, The Shadows and the Norrie Paramor Strings.
    - "Please Don't Tease", "The Next Time" / "Bachelor Boy" and "Summer Holiday" were credited to Cliff Richard and The Shadows.

    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 artist who 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; Leo Sayer. In Feb 1977 he hit the top with "When I Need You". He didn't return until Feb 2006 (a day shy of 29 years gap) - with "Thunder In My Heart Again" (a remix of his 1977 hit, as 'Meck featuring Leo Sayer').

    The longest run between original number 1s (i.e not a re-release/remix) is 18 years and 3 months for Blondie (Nov 1980, "The Tide is High", to Feb 1999, "Maria").

    Biggest run for a female artist is 14 years 6 months by Diana Ross - from the prophetic "I'm Still Waiting" (Sep 1971) til "Chain Reaction" (Mar 1986).

    Special mention must be made here of Stevie Winwood. Though not specifically credited, he hit number 1 with The Spencer Davis Group ("Somebody Help Me") in Apr 1966. A barren period then followed before a sample of his solo hit "Valerie" formed the basis of Eric Prydz's chart-topper "Call On Me" in Sep 2004; an hiatus of 38 years and 5 months between appearances, albeit uncredited, at number 1.

    Longest Time For An Artist To Get To Number 1
    34 Years, 10 Months, and 2 Days; Tony Christie. His first single, "Las Vegas", entered the Top 40 on w/e 16th Jan 1971, peaking at no. 21. His single from November of that year, "(Is This The Way To) Amarillo" was used in 2005 by comedian Peter Kaye in various TV performances, ultimately leading to a re-release in aid of Comic Relief. That catapulted the track back into the chart - at no. 1 - on w/e 26th Mar 2005.
    This broke the record set over 18 years previously by Jackie Wilson. His "Reet Petite (The Sweetest Girl In Town)" topped the chart in Dec 1986; 29 Years, 1 Month, and 11 Days after it first entered the chart.

    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).
    The previous record holder was Eric Clapton. He first hit the chart as a member of the Yardbirds in 1965 ("For Your Love", w/e 20th Mar 1965) but did not form part of a chart-topping combo until hit collaboration with Cher (her again!), Chrissie Hynde and Neneh Cherry ("Love Can Build A Bridge", w/e 25 Mar 1995); 30 years, 0 months and 5 days [1567 weeks].
  • Lulu holds the female record. Her first Top 40 hit was "Shout" (w/e 16th May 1964). She finally hit the top spot with Take That ("Relight My Fire", 9th Oct, 1993); 29 Years, 4 Months and 23 Days.

    Posthumous Number 1s
    A morbid one - but one about which, nonetheless, we receive constant emails. Artists which have topped the chart following their death are:
    ArtistCause of deathdate of
    Post humus no. 1date/s of
    no. 1
    Buddy Hollyplane crashFeb 1959It Doesn't Matter AnymoreApr 1959
    Eddie Cochrantaxi crashApril 1960Three Steps To HeavenJune 1960
    Jim Reevesplane crashJuly 1964Distant DrumsSept 1966
    Jimi Hendrix drugsSept 1970Voodoo ChileNov 1970
    Elvis Presley heart failureAug 1977Way Down
    As 'Elvis vs JXL' - A Little Less Conversation
    Jailhouse Rock (re-issue)
    One Night / I Got Stung (re-issue)
    It's Now Or Never
    Sept 1977
    June 2002
    Jan 2005
    Jan 2005
    Feb 2005
    John LennonshotDec 1980(Just Like) Starting Over
    Imagine (re-entry)
    Dec 1980
    Jan 1981
    Feb 1981
    Jackie WilsonpneumoniaJan 1984Reet Petite (The Sweetest Girl In Town)
    Nov 1986
    Freddie Mercury AIDSNov 1991Living On My Own
    and with Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody (re-issue) / These Are The Days Of Our Lives
    Aug 1993

    Dec 1991
    Aaliyahplane crashAug 2001More Than A WomanJan 2002
    George HarrisoncancerNov 2001My Sweet Lord (re-issue)Jan 2002
    2PacshotSep 1996As '2Pac featuring Elton John' - Ghetto GospelJul 2005
    Notorious B.I.G.shotMar 1997Nasty Girl (with Diddy, Nelly, Jagged Edge & Avery Storm)Feb 2006
    Eva CassidycancerNov 1996What A Wonderful World (with Katie Melua)Dec 2007

    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.)

    The biggest posthumous hit by an artist not making no. 1 is also the first after-death success for a duo; Laurel & Hardy's "Trail Of The Lonesome Pine" which made no.2 in Dec 1975. They died in 1965 and 1957 respectively. (The only other duo to have a posthumous hit are 2Pac & Notorious BIG. "Runnin'" made no. 15 in July 1998, the fastest hit after the death of the first-deceased member of a duo; less than 2 years. 2Pac died in Sep 1996, Notorious BIG in Mar 1997.)

    Elvis (vs JXL), "A Little Less Conversation", 2Pac (featuring Elton John) "Ghetto Gospel", Notorious BIG (featuring Diddy, Nelly, Jagged Edge & Avery Storm) "Nasty Girl" and Eva Cassidy (& Katie Melua) were all produced/remixed after the artists' death, 'sampling' their vocals.

    One-Hit Wonders
    These are artists who had one number one single and have been involved in no other hit. ("Hit" here meaning a Top 40 placing).
    Artists marked * have experienced some further success outside the Top 40.

    1954Kitty KallenLittle Things Mean A Lot
    1956DreamweaversIt's Almost Tomorrow
    1958Kalin TwinsWhen
    1959Jerry KellerHere Comes Summer
    1960Ricky ValanceTell Laura I Love Her
    1961 * The MarcelsBlue Moon
    1961 * The HighwaymenMichael
    1962B. Bumble & The StingersNut Rocker
    1966Overlanders Michelle
    1967* Scott McKenzie San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair)
    1968Crazy World Of Arthur Brown Fire
    1968* Hugo Montenegro The Good The Bad And The Ugly
    1969* Thunderclap Newman Something In The Air
    1969Zager & EvansIn The Year 2525 (Exordium And Terminus)
    1969Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg Je T'aime...Moi Non Plus
    1969Archies Sugar Sugar
    1970* Edison Lighthouse Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)
    1970Lee Marvin Wand'rin' Star
    1970Norman Greenbaum Spirit In The Sky
    1970Matthew's Southern Comfort Woodstock
    1971Clive Dunn Grandad
    1973Simon Park Orchestra Eye Level
    1974* John Denver Annie's Song
    1975* Telly Savalas If
    1975* Windsor Davies & Don Estelle Whispering Grass
    1975 Typically Tropical Barbados
    1976 J.J. Barrie No Charge
    1977 Floaters Float On
    1978 Althia & Donna Uptown Top Ranking
    1978 Brian & Michael Matchstalk Men And Matchstalk Cats And Dogs
    1979 Anita Ward Ring My Bell
    1979 Lena Martell One Day At A Time
    1980 Fern Kinney Together We Are Beautiful
    1980 M*A*S*H Theme From Mash
    1981Joe Dolce Music Theatre Shaddap Your Face
    1981* Aneka Japanese Boy
    1982* Goombay Dance Band Seven Tears
    1982* Nicole A Little Peace
    1982 Charlene I've Never Been To Me
    1982* Renee & Renato Save Your Love
    1984* Nena 99 Red Balloons
    1985 Phyllis Nelson Move Closer
    1987 Steve 'Silk' Hurley Jack Your Body
    1987 M/A/R/R/S Pump Up The Volume
    1988 Robin Beck First Time
    1990 Partners In Kryme Turtle Power
    1991 Hale & Pace The Stonk
    1994 Doop Doop
    1997 * White Town Your Woman
    1997 Teletubbies Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh
    1999 Mr Oizo Flat Beat
    1999 Baz LuhrmannEverybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)
    1999 * Lou BegaMambo No. 5 (A Little Bit Of...)
    2001 Rui Da Silva Touch Me
    2001 DJ Pied Piper & The Master Of CeremoniesDo You Really Like It
    2002 Elvis vs * JXL A Little Less Conversation
    2002 Las Ketchup The Ketchup Song (Asereje)
    2003 * Tomcraft Loneliness
    2003 Michael Andrews featuring Gary Jules Mad World
    2004 Frankee F.U.R.B. (F U Right Back)
    2004 3 Of A Kind Babycakes
    2005 Steve Brookstein Against All Odds
    2005 Ciara featuring *Petey Pablo Goodies
    2005 Nelly featuring Tim McGraw Over And Over
    2005 Nizlopi The JCB Song
    2006 Notorious BIG featuring Diddy, Nelly, Jagged Edge & Avery Storm Nasty Girl
    2007The Proclaimers featuring Brian Potter & Andy Pipkin (I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles
    2007Timbaland featuring Keri Hilson & DOE The Way I Are
    2007Robyn with Kleerup With Every Heartbeat
    2007* Eva Cassidy & Katie Melua What A Wonderful World
    2008Basshunter featuring DJ Mental Theo's Bazzheadz Now You're Gone
    2008Dizzee Rascal featuring Calvin Harris & Chrome Dance Wiv Me
    2009Flo Rida featuring Kesha Right Round
    2009J.L.S. Beat Again
    2009Vanesa Jenkins & Bryn West featuring Sir Tom Jones & Barry Gibb (Barry) Islands In The Stream

    Last one-hit wonders to be removed from the list: Pixie Lott (removed Sep 2009).
    Notes about One-Hit Wonders:

  • Charity ensembles containing one or more hit artists are not included.
  • St. Winifred's School Choir's "There's No One Quite Like Grandma" is exempted from this list as, two years previously, they appeared (though uncredited) on Brian & Michael's 1978 chart-topper, "Matchstalk Men And Matchstalk Cats And Dogs."
  • Tubeway Army's "Are Friends Electric" is exempted from this list as it is a pseudonym of Gary Numan.
  • The Young Ones "Living Doll" is exempted. As well as Cliff Richard and Hank Marvin, the single also features 'Neil,' who had a solo hit with "Hole In My Shoe" in 1984.
  • The Timelords' "Doctorin' The Tardis" is exempted as the group also had hits as The KLF / Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu / 2K.
  • Chef's "Chocolate Salty Balls" is exempted as the vocals were by Isaac Hayes who had two previous hits.
  • JXL made the Top 75 as Junkie XL.
  • Sunblock featuring Robin Beck made the Top 40 in May 2006. As this was merely a re-sung version of parts of the original "First Time" - with a dance beat - it has been decided not to remove the 'one hit wonder' status of Robin.
  • Yanou of DJ Sammy & Yanou's "Heaven" fame (no. 1 in 2002) is exempted as one of the DJ performers in the dance outfit Cascada (which charted in 2006 with "Everytime We Touch").
  • Peter Kay is exempted as he appeared in the guise of Brian Potter (therefore also excused!) in 'The Proclaimers featuring Brian Potter & Andy Pipkin' version of "(I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles" in 2007.
  • X Factor Finalists are exempt as (a) they are a charity ensemble and (b) Marvin Humes who features on the track had previously reached the top 40 in 2004 (three times) as a member of VS. That said, Alexandra Burke is exempt from inclusion in the list as a result of appearing on this track. (with his group JLS)

  • The Archies track "Sugar Sugar" is widely acknowledged in music folklore as the most successful track by a One-Hit Wonder in terms of its chart performance; it spent eight weeks at number one (and 23 weeks in the Top 40). A note of controversy about its status as a one-hit wonder should be sounded as one of the artistes providing the vocals for this fictitious animated group was Ron Dante. He was also lead vocalist with The Cufflinks who had two Top 40 hits ("Tracy", 1969 and "When Julie Comes Around", 1970). Applying some of the logic from the previous exemptions, perhaps the Archies should be disqualified from the list on One-Hit Wonders. This being the case, The Kalin Twins' "When" (5 weeks at no. 1 in 1958) becomes the most successful track by a One-Hit Wonder judged on chart performance.

  • Two one-hit wonders have sold over a million copies. They are "Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh" (by The Teletubbies, 1997, 1.1m) and "Eye Level" (by The Simon Park Orchestra, 1970, 1.0m).

    Most Successful Acts Not To Have A Number 1 Single
    Depeche Mode have had most Top 40 hits without making No. 1 (43 of them up to Apr 2009). 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 twenty Top 10 singles but never made the number 1 position. Three hits behind, Janet Jackson has appeared on seventeen Top 10 singles without reaching the top spot.

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