Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Your "No. 1 Hits Medley," featuring 671 songs from three decades, was a radio masterpiece.

I noticed how few No. 1s there were in the 1950s, compared to in the 1970s. Apparently, records had a longer chart life in the early years.

When were the fewest, and the most?
—Jimmy Kirkland, Magdalena, N.M.

DEAR JIMMY: The range is from nine in 1951, to 35 in 1974 and 1975.

Of the 70 in 1974 and 1975, only seven held to top spot for three weeks. The other 63 were No. 1 for either one or two weeks.

It's beyond the scope of my three decades (1950-1979), but overall, 2002 had the fewest No. 1s — a year with only seven, and fewer than any time in the 1950s.

Here are some more facts and figures:
Among the 671 No. 1s in my medley, Elvis led the pack with 24.
The Beatles were next with 23, making them also the top group.
Runner-up male artist was Pat Boone with seven,
The Supremes are the top female group, with 13.
Top solo female is Diana Ross, also with seven, separate from her hits with the Supremes. If we add those together, since she was their lead singer, we'd credit Diana with 20 No. 1s.

The most in one year is seven, by the Beatles in 1964. Next was Elvis, with five in 1956.
It's interesting to note that, of the three decades covered, 1961 was the only year when no solo female reached No. 1. Connie Francis came as close as possible, when "Where the Boys Are" peaked at No. 2.

There are six No. 1 hits on the list by artists who never had another tune on any of the national charts:
1950: "The Third Man Theme" Anton Karas
1952: "It's in the Book" Johnny Standley
1955: "Let Me Go, Lover" Joan Weber
1958: "Get a Job" The Silhouettes
1966: "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" Napoleon XIV
1973: "Dueling Banjos" Eric Weissberg & Steve Mandell

Here are three songs on the list with identical titles that, other than the titles, have nothing whatsoever in common. They are:
"Venus" by Frankie Avalon in 1959, and by Shocking Blue in 1970
"I'm Sorry" from Brenda Lee in 1960, and by John Denver in 1975
"My Love" by Petula Clark from 1965, and by Paul McCartney & Wings in 1973

There are also three songs that were No. 1 twice, by two different artists:
"Go Away Little Girl" by Steve Lawrence in 1963, and Donny Osmond in 1971
"The Loco-Motion" by Little Eva in 1962, and Grand Funk in 1974
"Please Mr. Postman" by the Marvelettes in 1961, and the Carpenters in 1975

Of course there is once when the exact same recording reached No. 1 twice:
"The Twist" by Chubby Checker, in 1960 and 1962

Finally, the only year with three instrumental No. 1s — meaning no vocal at all — is 1962:
"Stranger on the Shore" by Mr. Acker Bilk
"The Stripper" by David Rose and His Orchestra
"Telstar" by the Tornados

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