Beatles' long reign at number one in singles chart

The Beatles: John Lennon, Ringo Star, Paul McCartney and George Harrison The Beatles made their chart debut in 1962 with Love Me Do

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The Beatles have been declared the biggest selling singles act under the Queen's 60-year reign.

The Fab Four, who split more than 40 years ago, had 17 number ones during their eight-year chart domination.

They held off artists such as runner-up Elvis Presley, Sir Cliff Richard and Madonna.

BBC Radio 2 is to broadcast a countdown of the 60 biggest selling artists since the singles chart began in 1952 - the year the Queen took the throne.

Top 10 biggest selling singles acts

  • 1. Beatles
  • 2. Elvis Presley
  • 3. Cliff Richard
  • 4. Madonna
  • 5. Michael Jackson
  • 6. Elton John
  • 7. Queen
  • 8. Abba
  • 9. David Bowie
  • 10. Rihanna

Elvis has continued to have strong sales over the past 10 years thanks to a reissue campaign with tracks such as A Little Less Conversation.

Sir Cliff has had 124 top 40 hits and 14 number ones in the list compiled by the Official Charts Company.

And Madonna has made the top 40 more than 60 times.

Rihanna, who only made her debut chart position in 2005, is in 10th place, yet the Rolling Stones only reached number 13.

Although Mick Jagger's wrinkly rockers have continued to release singles, they have failed to make it to the top 10 since 1981.

Sir Paul McCartney (11th) is listed twice for his Beatles years and his solo career as is George Michael (21st) for his own hits and as a member of Wham! (43rd).

Tony Blackburn will count down the chart from 14:00-17:00 BST on Radio 2.

He said: "This chart offers a fascinating look at the past 60 years in music and shows the impact that modern stars like Rihanna and Katy Perry have had.

"The list is really varied and will provide something for everyone. There are definitely a few surprises in store - Coldplay being at 60 for one!"


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  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    What has to be remembered is that when Elvis and Cliff were at their peak and to some extent The Beatles too, singles were relatively expensive compared to more recent times. If the chart was adjusted to account for this the top 3 would be even further ahead although I expect Elvis might just come 1st. In international impact and importance Elvis & The Beatles are in a different league.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    Well, of course, there never was - and never will be - a group as good as the Beatles. Their music lives on 50 years later and is still the best around.

    Those born in the 1980s and beyond have, with a few exceptions, endured little more than mediocre music since the Fab Four broke up. Groups like Oasis, and all the other boy and girl bands of recent times will soon be forgotten.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    This whole thing is wrong. Cliff Richard is still number one. This new list includes digital sales, which isn't right. In terms of physical singles Cliff wihte washes both Elvis and The Beatles. Enough said.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    I do not deny the statistics, but a shame Stevie Wonder is not there. I also believe that The Animals were the background driving force behind a lot of bands of that era.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    This chart refers to singles but we shouldn't forget the game changing, innovative British bands such as Led Zeppelin, The Who and Pink Floyd who never focused on singles but sold huge amounts of albums. In fact in my opinion what the music industry needs right now is another Sex Pistols!


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