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

Related Stories

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!"


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    The first nine on the list certainly deserve their places as they have been a great influence on the pop/rock world for decades, but Rihanna!!? Dear oh dear, such a sad reflection on today's chart! Will anyone remember Rihanna in 6 years time let alone 60!? The list doesn't give an accurate picture of the amazing amount of British musical talent over the past 60 years in all musical genres.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    34. FreelancinSteve

    "but sold huge amounts of albums"

    Really? Poured out of a packet, where they? Try using the word "number". Sheesh - am I so sick of "amount" being misused!

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    People will always say that music isn't as creative as when they were young. I think you just drift from the cutting edge. I grew up listening to Madchester indie, acid house and hardcore rave. Since then there have been many new genres created, some of the big-hitters being drum & bass, trance, UK garage, dubstep - all of which have been VERY successful in the charts. It's not all X-factor!

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    BBC's new angle ?
    Dumb down the content.
    Yeah yeah yeah

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    @ Gypsey Davey ... if that were the case? How would we ever have heard of 'Buddy Holly' 'Little Richard' 'Jerry Lee' 'Chuck Berry' et all? ... 'Radio Luxemburg''? .. and i was lucky enough to live in an area where the 'Cunard Yanks',(Liverpoool based merchant seaman) used to bring back those precious records .. everly bros, buddy holly. Good music got thro dispite the constraints of 'Aunty Beeb'

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Dont agree with the Beatles being No. One. Sir Cliff Richard should be at No. One. He has had 15 No. Ones and NOT 14 as is stated.

  • 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!

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Back then a Song came out , on the Radio , or you heard it on Top of the Pops , it was a real event , and everybody talked about it . You read about it in the NME .

    Nowadays Music is everywhere , ideas and creation is everywhere , but none of its much good

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Pleased to see David Bowie in that list - what's he doing these days?

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    The difference between the Beatles era and the present is due to the radio. When the Beatles were growing up, the BBC controlled nearly all radio in the UK and played very little pop music. Therefore, we all grew up with a very wide input of music from our parents' tastes. Nowadays, houses tend to listen to one station playing a particular type of music. Thus endless repetition.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.


    May add to your missing credit for superior song writing skils, and innovatuion, 'The Moody Blues' .. Bet this list is gonna grow?

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    My apologies to the good lord m I misunderstood.
    I would still like the BBC to inform us how this list was calculated as I do not think it makes much sence to most people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    All you need is a pokerface, some bluffs and a summerpullover. Or have a neat read of a Disc-Novel from Lspace org. Your hair is looking alright. =!-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    That's what me was trying to convey, J. Smiff. Okay, let us ponder upon some progressive tunitch (hey, a Cumbrian DJ said that) then later. Just for the moment: how many laurels got the tropical islanders in the last years at the Eurovision de la some songs?-)
    The la-la; "Skimming a pebble over Loch Ness the water turned into an ice-cream cone, so hot.." The lousy speakers go hi-fly, kind of.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    The Beatles were great, they absolutely rocked, as did the Stones - but why did the Kinks never really get the full level of sales & crictical aclaim that their superior song writing skills justified...???

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    @no20 If you are old enough you were aware that the Beatles were like the windows being opened on the UK music scene which dull beyond belief- dominated by the likes of Matt Monroe and singers imitating stale US music. They might have been simple at the start but they and others shoved their chelsea boots in the door and probably made the way easier for bands like the Yardbirds, the Zombies etc

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    I suppose being an admirer of a decent rhythm and lyric its not difficult to dislike some of the music published nowadays, this coming from a person who's father once shouted "what's that b****y noise" when i was listening to a young Jimi Hendrix.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Kids, please read Lord Maradon Beckembauer's comments. This is why you should stay clear of drugs.

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Just you wait, looking at the path music is taking, in about 50 years we'll be having the finalists of "Big Britains Got X Factor" breaking this record. 50-year-olds of the day will be all loveywobby about the likes of Jedwas and One Direction just like we're loveywobby about Queen and The Beatles.


Page 9 of 10


More Entertainment & Arts stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.