Ask "Mr. Music"
Jerry Osborne

In syndication since 1986, and now in our 30th year — Over 3,000 questions answered
Most recent column here — 18 years of archived ones are linked below


FOR THE WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 19, 2016

DEAR JERRY: When the dee jay on our oldies station played Neil Diamond's "Song Sung Blue," he mentioned it was a No. 1 hit on Billboard.

Then he said it was over five years before Neil again topped the charts, thanks to "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," a duet with Barbra Streisand.

How are duets credited?

Might that be a record, or are there other artists with a longer span between No. 1 hits.
—Jarrod Snyder, Boston

DEAR JARROD: The accepted formula for chart-related duo achievements is to credit the artists individually, if they are shown by name on the label.

Same goes for trios, quartets, and other configurations.

In the above example, Neil and Barbra are both credited with a No. 1 hit.

Over the years between "Song Sung Blue" (1972) and "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" (1978), Diamond had 12 chart hits, five of which reached the Top 20. So he certainly didn't disappear, he just didn't quite reach No. 1.

The closest he came was in 1974, when "Longfellow Serenade" peaked at No. 5.

Regardless, the length of Mr. Diamond's absence atop the charts is less than at least 19 other artists.

From the last day of one No. 1 hit, to the first day of their next, here are the Top 20 artists and the songs that bookend their sometimes protracted dry spells:

1. Cher: 9,116 days (24 years, 11 months, 14 days)
"Dark Lady" (March 29, 1974)
"Believe" (March 13, 1999)

2. The Beach Boys: 7,982 days (21 years, 10 months, seven days)
"Good Vibrations" (December 30, 1966)
"Kokomo" (November 5, 1988)

3. Aretha Franklin: 7,253 days (19 years, 10 months, nine days)
"Respect" (June 10, 1967)
"I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" (April 18, 1987)
Duet with George Michael

4. Elton John: 5,630 days (15 years, four months, 30 days)
"Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (September 3, 1976)
Duet with Kiki Dee
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (February 1, 1992)

5. Paul Anka: 5,495 days (15 years, 16 days)
"Lonely Boy" (August 9, 1959)
"(You're) Having My Baby" (August 24, 1974)
With Odia Coates, though she is not always credited

6. Rod Stewart: 5,434 days (14 years, 10 months, 14 days)
"Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" (March 9, 1979)
"All for Love" (January 22, 1994)
Credits: Bryan Adams - Rod Stewart - Sting

7. George Harrison: 5,308 days (14 years, six months, 11 days)
"Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)" (July 6, 1973)
"Got My Mind Set on You" (January 16, 1988)

8. Neil Sedaka: 4,545 days (12 years, five months, nine days)
"Breaking Up is Hard to Do" (August 24, 1962)
"Laughter in the Rain" (February 1, 1975)

9. Manfred Mann: 4,496 days (12 years, three months, 21 days)
"Do Wah Diddy Diddy" (October 30, 1964)
"Blinded By the Light" (February 19, 1977)
Credits: Manfred Mann's Earth Band

10. The 4 Seasons: 4,244 days (11 years, seven months, 14 days)
"Rag Doll" (July 31, 1964)
"December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" (March 13, 1976)
Credits: The Four Seasons

11. Herb Alpert: 4,111 days (11 years, three months, two days)
"This Guy's in Love With You" (July 19, 1968)
"Rise" (October 20, 1979)

12. Dionne Warwick: 4,097 days (11 years, two months, 18 days)
"Then Came You" (November 1, 1974)
Credits: Dionne Warwicke and the Spinners
"That's What Friends Are For" (January 18, 1986)
Credits: Dionne Warwick & Friends Featuring Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder

13. Patti LaBelle: 4,090 days (11 years, two months, 11 days)
"Lady Marmalade" (April 4, 1975)
Credits: LaBelle
"On My Own" (June 14, 1986)
Duet with Michael McDonald

14. Stevie Wonder: 3,369 days (Nine years, two months, 20 days)
"Fingertips - Pt 2" (August 30, 1963)
Credits: Little Stevie Wonder
"Superstition" (November 18, 1972)

15. David Bowie: 2,795 days (Seven years, seven months, 26 days)
"Fame" (September 26, 1975)
"Let's Dance" (May 21, 1983)

16. Elvis Presley: 2,739 days (Seven years, five months, 29 days)
"Good Luck Charm" (May 4, 1962)
With The Jordanaires
"Suspicious Minds" (November 1, 1969)

17. Stevie Wonder: 2,682 days (Seven years, four months, three days)
"Sir Duke" (June 10, 1977)
"I Just Called to Say I Love You" (October 13, 1984)

18. Michael Jackson: 2,549 days (Six years, 11 months, 23 days)
"Ben" (October 20, 1972)
"Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" (October 13, 1979)

19. Tommy Roe: 2,375 days (Six years, six months, two days)
"Sheila" (September 14, 1962)
"Dizzy" (March 15, 1969)

20. Neil Diamond: 2,340 days (Six years, four months, 26 days)
"Song Sung Blue" (July 7, 1972)
"You Don't Bring Me Flowers" (December 2, 1978)
Duet with Barbra Streisand

IZ ZAT SO? Knowing the Cash Box surveys often differed from Billboard's, I evaluated each of the above 20 entries. For six, the Cash Box spans are noticeably dissimilar:

1. Rod Stewart: 3,985 days (10 years, 10 months, 26 days)
"Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" (March 9, 1979)
"Downtown Train" (February 3, 1990)

2. The 4 Seasons: 3,789 days (10 years, four months, 16 days)
"Let's Hang On" (November 5, 1965)
"December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" (March 20, 1976)
Credits: The Four Seasons

3. Michael Jackson: 2,732 days (Seven years, five months, 23 days)
"Rockin' Robin" (April 21, 1972)
"Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" (October 13, 1979)

4. Elvis Presley: 2,382 days (Six years, six months, eight days)
"Return to Sender" (December 21, 1962)
With The Jordanaires
"In the Ghetto" (June 28, 1969)

5. Stevie Wonder: 1,934 days (Five years, three months, 15 days)
"Fingertips - Pt 2" (August 30, 1963)
Credits: Little Stevie Wonder
"For Once in My Life" (December 14, 1968)

6. Stevie Wonder: 1,283 days (Three years, six months, four days)
"Sir Duke" (June 3, 1977)
"Master Blaster" (December 6, 1980)

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