In May 2006, Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" joined the elite lst of singles to have managed 8 or more weeks at number one. It had been twelve years since a record had managed such a spell at the top and interest from readers prompted this new page. Here, we give the story of longevity at the summit of the chart...
The first ever number one was Al Martino's "Here In My Heart." It spent 9 weeks atop the chart in from Nov 1952 to Jan 1953.
There followed a spell of shorter-lived number ones until in April 1953, Frankie Laine's "I Believe" managed 9 successive weeks at the top spot. (This would later go onto spend a six-week and a further three-week run at the top, giving it a record-breaking 18 weeks in pole position overall).
In July 1954, the record for the longest run at number one was broken by David Whitfield's "Cara Mia" which was the first - and one of very few - singles to reach double figures in the number of weeks at no. 1. (10 weeks)
This record would stand for a year before being beaten by Slim Whitman's "Rose Marie" (11 weeks, July 1955) (We'd have to wait a full 36 years before the next number one could make double figures at the top).
A period of relative volatility followed with only two further singles making 8 weeks at no.1 in the remainder of the 1950s (see below).
Elvis was first to make 8 weeks at the top in the 1960s - with "It's Now Or Never" (Nov 1960).
By 1964 the turnover had increased spectacularly with all but two singles of that year failing to make more than a mere 3 weeks at the top. In fact, we would have to wait until the dying embers of that decade before we'd see a single make a two full months at the summit; The Archies' "Sugar Sugar" fulfilling an 8-week stint.
The first half of the 70's passed with no sign of a single getting to our 8-week landmark. Then two of the big hitters moved in. The Christmas number ones of 1975 and 1977 (Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and Wings' "Mull of Kintyre") both notched up 9 successive weeks at the top. ("Bohemian Rhapsody" would go on to chalk up another 5 weeks in a re-issued form in 1991).
Throughout the whole of the 1980s only one track managed to amass two months at number one; Frankie Goes To Hollywood - "Two Tribes" (9 weeks in the summer of '84)
Nobody could have possibly guessed when it first made no. 1 in July 1991, that Bryan Adams' "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" would go on to spend the best part of four months at the top. At 16 weeks, it still holds the record for the longest continuous stay at number one. (In fact only Frankie Laine's "I Believe" can beat it in total weeks at the top; but that took three visits to do so!) This appeared to mark the dawn of a new era of lingering incumbents. Over the next three years, as many singles would make 8 or more weeks at the top including Wet Wet Wet's "Love Is All Around" which, at 15 consecutive weeks, holds the silver medal. Marty Pellow, lead singer of Wet Wet Wet, insisted that the single was deleted after it's 15th week at the top, fearing that the band could have become regarded as a one-trick pony.
By the turn of the millennium, an expansion of music media outlets, the explosion of genres and ever more aggressive marketing techniques by record companies had made the top of the chart a highly competitive place to be. In 2000 there were 42 different number one singles (43 if you count the Westlife track which spanned over from 1999). The days of the long-run at number one seemed to be over. In fact, in the whole of the first half of the decade, only one song (The Black Eyed Peas' "Where Is The Love?") could manage more than 4 weeks at the top.
In March 2005, the re-release of Tony Christie's "(Is This The Way To) Amarillo" - with more than a little help from an hilarious Comic Relief video from Peter Kay - came tantalisingly close to our two-month threshold but it faltered after 7 weeks.
It would take until April/May 2006 before any single could break the 12 year old jinx and last two full months again. Gnarls Barkley made nine weeks at the peak with "Crazy". The record company then deleted the single so that they could move on to promote its follow-up, otherwise it may have spent longer at no. 1. Ample stocks in the shops, combined with the availability of the track on download sites (which gave it its first week at number one alone in the absence of physical sales), mean that the track had a relatively graceful decent and there is every chance that it's 9th week would have been its last at the top even without the deletion.
Postscript. A little under a year after Gnarls Barkley left the number one spot, Rihanna featuring Jay-Z managed an incredible ten week continuous stay at the summit with "Umbrella"
Nov 1952 - Al Martino Here In My Heart (9 weeks)
The 22 singles to have spent 8 or more continuous weeks at number one are:
Apr 1953 - Frankie Laine I Believe (9 weeks) (+ an extra 6 week + another 3 week run = 18 weeks overall - record)
Nov 1953 - Frankie Laine - "Answer Me" (8 weeks)
Jan 1954 - Eddie Calvert - "Oh Mein Papa" (9 weeks)
May 1954 - Doris Day - "Secret Love" (8 weeks) (+ 1 extra from April of that year)
Jul 1954 - David Whitfield with Chorus & Mantovani & his Orchestra - "Cara Mia" (10 weeks)
Jul 1955 - Slim Whitman Rose Marie (11 weeks)
Aug 1957 - Paul Anka - "Diana" (9 weeks)
Mar 1958 - Perry Como - "Magic Moments" (8 weeks)
Nov 1960 - Elvis Presley - "It's Now Or Never" (8 weeks) (+ 1 extra as a re-issue in 2005)
Mar 1962 - The Shadows - "Wonderful Land" (8 weeks)
Oct 1969 - The Archies - "Sugar Sugar" (8 weeks)
Nov 1975 - Queen - "Bohemian Rhapsody" (9 weeks) (+5 as a re-issue in 1991)
Dec 1977 - Wings - "Mull Of Kintyre" / "Girls' School" (9 weeks)
Jun 1979 - John Travolta & Olivia Newton John You're The One That I Want (9 weeks)
Jun 1984 - Frankie Goes To Hollywood - "Two Tribes" (9 weeks)
Jul 1991 - Bryan Adams - "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" (16 weeks - record for consecutive weeks)
Feb 1992 - Shakespear's Sister - "Stay" (8 weeks)
Dec 1992 - Whitney Houston - "I Will Always Love You" (10 weeks)
Jun 1994 - Wet Wet Wet - "Love Is All Around" (15 weeks)
Apr 2006 - Gnarls Barkley - "Crazy" (9 weeks).
May 2007 - Rihanna featuring Jay-Z - "Umbrella" (10 weeks).
You may also be interested to see how the record for the artist with most weeks at number one has changed over the years. It's here.
Record Breakers and Trivia Index | Number 1s index