Some may find it hard to believe that Ringo Starr had two number one hits in the U.S. before John Lennon had his first chart-topper. John Lennon privately found it hard to believe as well.
Many assume that John’s 1971 smash international hit “Imagine” reached the top of The Billboard Hot 100, but it did not in the U.S. The song peaked at number three.
Ringo’s song “Photograph” topped the charts for the week of November 24, 1973. Debuting at # 74 on The Billboard Hot 100, it took seven weeks to make the climb to the top. His second number one, “You’re Sixteen”, also topped the charts for one week. It debuted at # 75 on December 15, 1973 and six weeks later on January 26, 1974 it topped the charts.
Both “Photograph” and “You’re Sixteen” were singles released from the 1973 Ringo album. Another song from the Ringo’s best solo album, “Oh My My”, reached number five. “Photograph” was written by Ringo Starr and George Harrison, and marked the one and only time that two ex-Beatles collaborated to write a song that made the charts. It was written in 1971 while both were on vacation in the South of France.
John Lennon’s first number one song on the U.S. charts was “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night”, which featured his close friend Elton John on piano and backing vocals. The song was the lead single from his Walls and Bridges album. John was the first Beatle to release a solo single when he and Yoko released “Give Peace a Chance” in 1969, and was the last of the ex-Beatles to score a number one hit. “Whatever Gets You Thru the Night” was the number one hit for the week of November 16, 1974. The song would be Lennon’s only number one hit during his lifetime, as “(Just Like) Starting Over” reached number one on the charts three weeks after his death on December 8, 1980. The song stayed atop the charts for five weeks.
George Harrison has the distinction of being both the first and the last ex-Beatle to top the charts in the U.S. Beginning on December 26, 1970, his song “My Sweet Lord” spent four consecutive weeks at number one, making it the first number one song by an ex-Beatle and only eight months after the announcement of the band’s break-up. Harrison’s scored a number one hit in 1988 with “I’ve Got My Mind Set on You”, a remake of a 1962 song written and performed by Rudy Clark. Reaching the top slot for one week on January 16, 1988, it was a real coup for Harrison to break in and top the charts which at that point in time were dominated by Michael Jackson, George Michael and Whitney Houston. To date, “I’ve Got My Mind Set on You” ranks as the last number one single by an ex-Beatle.
When “I’ve Got My Mind Set On You” reached the top of the charts, it gave Harrison a unique place in the history of The Billboard Hot 100 as the artist or group with the longest span between numbers one hits (1964 – 1988) beginning with “I Want To Hold Your Hand” in February 1964 which gave him a span of 23 years and eleven months. However, this distinction was short-lived as ten months later in November 1988, The Beach Boys reached the top with “Kokomo”, giving them a span of more than 24 years between “I Get Around” (July 1964) and “Kokomo”.
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