Number One Hits

From The Pages Of
The Billboard Book Of Number One Hits

ABBA
Dancing Queen

Winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with "Waterloo" propelled Sweden's ABBA onto the world stage. They had nine #1 hits in the U.K. but only one on The Billboard Hot 100: "Dancing Queen." The world still loves ABBA after almost 50 years and "Dancing Queen" is a global favorite, appearing in the stage musical and motion picture "Mamma Mia!" and as one of the highlights of their virtual stage show in London, "Voyage."

The Fleetwoods
Come Softly To Me

Gretchen Christopher and Barbara Ellis formed a singing duo, the Saturns, when they were in high school in Olympia, Washington. Looking for a blues trumpet player, they found Gary Troxel, who proved to be better at singing than playing the trumpet. Gretchen composed the music and lyrics to her original song "Come Softly" and arranged it in counterpoint to the street corner humming ("dum dum, dum doo dum") of Gary Troxel, as he walked her downtown, after school (for her scholarship dance classes at Olympia Academy of Theatrical Arts, where she also rehearsed as a Soloist with the Olympia Ballet Company). The Fleetwoods were signed to a new label, Dolphin, and were named after a local telephone exchange, FLeetwood. Label owner Bob Reisdorff changed the title to the less-suggestive "Come Softly To Me."

Carole King
It's Too Late

Being such a big fan of Carole King's songwriting, I interviewed her for my college newspaper, the Daily Sundial. She took a break from recording an album at A&M in Hollywood and we met in an office there. I asked her about the album she was making and she told me she didn't want to be a star, the album was just her way of getting her demos to other artists. A few months later the album was released and it was titled "Tapestry."


Los Del Rio
Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)
Los Del Rio

Antonio Romero and Rafel Ruiz started performing together when they were 14 in the southern Spanish town of Dos Hermanas. They had recorded 31 albums of rumba music by the time they released their own composition, "Macarena." The song was popular in several countries before it spread to Miami's South Beach. A local DJ was asked to come up with an English remix to play on air and he asked his friends Carlos De Yarza and Mike Triay to produce it. They hired singer Patricia Alfaro and recorded the new version at Bayside Studios. The remix debuted on The Billboard Hot 100 but failed to make the top 40. But then WKTU in New York added the song and it returned to the Hot 100 and reached the No. 1 spot in its 33rd week on the chart.


Karma Chameleon
Culture Club

In a 1983 interview, the members of Culture Club announced that their next single would be "Cameo Chameleon." As we all know, it was eventually released as "Karma Chameleon." It was their second No. 1 in the U.K. after "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me" and their first in the U.S.

The Tears Of A Clown
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

The Miracles' first big hit was "Shop Around," which peaked at No. 2 on Dec. 12, 1960. Exactly 10 years later, to the day, they scored their first No. 1 with "The Tears Of A Clown." The song first appeared on their 1967 album "Make It Happen" but was not released as a single. In 1970, British Motown exec John Marshall was looking for a follow-up to a re-issue of "The Tracks Of My Tears" and found another "Tears" song, "The Tears Of A Clown." He released it as a U.K.-only single and it topped the U.K. chart. A month later, Berry Gordy suggested that because of the British success, Motown in America should also release the three-year-old song.

My Eyes Adored You
Frankie Valli

Kenny Nolan & Bob Crewe wrote a song they called "Blue Eyes In Georgia." When they played it for Frankie Valli, he suggested the change to "My Eyes Adored You." He was signed to Motown at the time, with the 4 Seasons, but that label held on to the track for a year and a half without releasing it. When the Motown deal expired, Crewe and Valli bought the track from Motown for $4,000. They played it for Larry Uttal, founder of the Private Stock label. He played it five times and told them, "I want that song."

Lady Marmalade
Labelle

Kenny Nolan & Bob Crewe wrote "Lady Marmalade" in 1974 and recorded it under the group name The Eleventh Hour, with Kenny on lead vocals. New Orleans-based producer Allen Toussaint heard that original version and decided to record a cover with Labelle. Patti LaBelle, Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx formed Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles n 1962. They changed their name to Labelle in 1971 and signed with Warner Bros., then RCA, but they didn't have their big breakthrough until they signed with Epic in 1974.

A World Without Love
Peter and Gordon

Peter Asher and Gordon Waller were both fans of the Everly Brothers. They formed a duo called Gordon & Peter and played at school parties and local clubs. EMI auditioned them and signed them. Peter had a friend who was dating his sister Jane, and that friend, Paul McCartney, played a song he had written for the Beatles that the group didn't think was right for them. That's how Peter & Gordon ended up with "A World Without Love," the first Lennon-McCartney song not recorded by the Beatles to go to #1 in America.

Timber
Pitbull & Ke$ha

Rihanna was supposed to be the female vocalist on Pitbull's "Timber," but she was busy with another collaborative recording project. Kesha & Pitbull had worked together a few times already, and so she was chosen to appear on the song, her third No. 1 and Pitbull's second.

Uptown Funk!
Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars

Before "Uptown Funk!," Mark Ronson produced three tracks on Mars' second album. The genesis of "Uptown Funk!" would take some time to explain. It took over 100 takes in recording studios in Los Angeles, London, Memphis, New York, Toronto, and Vancouver. The record label almost passed on it. But the tribute to 1980s funk became a massive hit and one of the biggest records of all time on the Billboard Hot 100.

These Boots Are Made For Walkin'
Nancy Sinatra

Nancy Sinatra signed with Reprise, the label owned by her father Frank, in 1961. Five years later she had her first major hit with "These Boots Are Made For Walkin,'" a song written and produced by Lee Hazlewood.

Take Good Care Of My Baby
Bobby Vee

Producer Snuff Garrett traveled to New York to find material for Bobby Vee to record. At the Aldon Music office, Don Kirshner played him a demo of Carole King and Gerry Goffin's "Take Good Care Of My Baby." Garrett wanted it for Bobby and Kirshner knew that he only wanted original material, so confessed that the song had already been recorded -- by Dion. Garrett wanted it anyway but thought it needed an introductory verse, which Carole provided. It became Vee's first and only No. 1, and the second No 1 for Goffin & King, after the Shirelles' "Will You Love Me Tomorrow."

Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)
Eurythmics

Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox first hit the U.K charts in a group called the Tourists. When that group disbanded, and after they ended their romantic relationship, Eurythmics was formed. They recorded "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" in a London warehouse on an 8-track machine, having to wait for the timber factory downstairs to turn off their machinery before they record their vocals.

You Send Me
Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke was a gospel singer and gospel singers rarely crossed over into secular music. His first non-religious single, "Lovable," was released under the name Dale Cook. But there was no disguising his voice and he was fired by his group, the Soul Stirrers. He was signed to Keen Records and in 1957 he went to #1 with a song he had written, "You Send Me."

West End Girls
Pet Shop Boys

"I thought it would be quite good to write a rap song like 'The Message' by Grandmaster Flash," Neil Tennant told me. "Only an English rap, because no one ever raps in English accents." Signed to EMI in the U.K. in March 1985, the Pet Shop Boys' first single was "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots Of Money)." When it failed, they went back into the studio to re-record one of their pre-EMI songs, "West End Girls."

That'll Be The Day
The Crickets

Buddy Holly recorded an early version of "That'll Be The Day" in 1956 and Decca executives didn't like it and refused to release it. After Decca, Buddy signed with Roulette and recorded a demo of "That'll Be The Day" but Roulette didn't release it either. Then Bob Thiele at Brunswick/Coral heard the demo and signed Holly. Because Decca owned the original recording, Thiele released a new version under the group name "The Crickets" though of course, it was Buddy on lead vocals.

My Guy
Mary Wells

Mary Wells began her Motown career as a singer/songwriter, composing her first hit, "Bye Bye Baby." But then Berry Gordy paired her up with songwriter Smokey Robinson, who penned a string of hits for Mary, ending with her first and only No. 1 hit, "My Guy." Shortly after, Mary left Motown and recorded for a number of other labels, without ever scoring another major hit.

Don't Be Cruel
Elvis Presley

Brooklyn songwriter Otis Blackwell wrote "Don't Be Cruel." Elvis Presley is listed as a co-writer, at the insistence of his manager, Col. Tom Parker, who wanted his client to share in the songwriting royalties.

I Want You Back
The Jackson 5

Originally written as "I Want To Be Free" and intended for Gladys Knight & the Pips, the writing/producing team behind the song brought it to Berry Gordy and suggested it be recorded by Diana Ross. Gordy said it would be better for a new group he had just signed from Gary, Indiana and said the song should be rewritten for them. "I Want You Back" was the first of four consecutive No. 1s for the Jackson 5.

Sherry
The 4 Seasons

"Some songs come quickly and some songs take forever," Bob Gaudio told me. "'Sherry' was a quickie. It took 15 minutes...I sat at the piano and it just came out...I had no intention of keeping the (original) lyrics. To my surprise, everybody liked the lyrics so we didn't change anything." "Sherry" was the first of five No. 1 hits for the 4 Seasons.

I Want To Hold Your Hand
The Beatles

John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote "I Want To Hold Your Hand" in the basement of a home owned by the family of Paul's girlfriend, Jane Asher. They recorded it on Oct. 19, 1963. Manager Brian Epstein thought it would be the single that would finally break them in the U.S. Capitol Records in America had turned down all of the group's previous U.K. singles but agreed this was the one.

My Life Would Suck Without You
Kelly Clarkson

"My Life Would Suck Without You" was the first single from Kelly's fourth album, "All I Ever Wanted." The single debuted at No. 97 on The Billboard Hot 100 and the next week it vaulted to No. 1, making the biggest jump to pole position in the history of this chart.

California Gurls
Katy Perry & Snoop Dogg

Just as Alicia Keys and Jay-Z paid tribute to New York in "Empire State Of Mind," Katy Perry honored the Golden State in "California Gurls," her first single from the singles-rich "Teenage Dream" album. This was her second No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100, following the 2008 single "I Kissed A Girl."

It's My Party
Lesley Gore

Lesley Gore was 16 when she had her first paying gig at the Prince George Hotel in Manhattan. Mercury Records staff producer Quincy Jones caught her act and she was signed to the label, In February 1963, Jones drove to Lesley's home in Tenafly, N.J. with 250 demos. The first one he played for her was "It's My Party." She recorded it on March 30 at Bell Sound in New York. Three days after her 17th birthday the song entered the Billboard Hot 100 and three weeks later it was No. 1.

Can't Stop The Feeling!
Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake voiced the character of Branch in the animated film "Trolls," and served as executive music producer. He co-wrote and co-produced the song "Can't Stop The Feeling" (with the superstar team of Max Martin and Shellback) for the soundtrack and earned one of the biggest hits of his career.

Where Did Our Love Go
The Supremes

The Supremes reportedly did not like "Where Did Our Love Go" when they recorded it, but it became their first No. 1 hit and made them Motown superstars.

Never Gonna Give You Up
Rick Astley

Producer Pete Waterman saw Rick Astley perform and was impressed with his vocals. "I was offered a job at PWL to work as a tape op, which is basically a tea boy who's learning the engineering profession." Eentually he was able to record for Stock-Aitken-Waterman and "Never Gonna Give You Up" became the No, 1 single of 1987 in the U.K. "Rick Astley has a surprising voice," Mike Stock told me. "It is powerful. It doesn’t need any tricks. Just a decent tune and a heartfelt lyric. 'Never Gonna Give You Up' is about him. He told me about his life and the song followed."

I Will Follow Him
Little Peggy March

Peggy March was 15 years and one month old when "I Will Follow Him" went to #1, making her the youngest female to ever top The Billboard Hot 100, a record she still holds today after 58 years.