How To Have 1000 Number Ones - The Easy Way

Sunday, February 06, 2005


This week I’ve been digging around in my singles collection to see what that would turn up. The large box of CD singles proved to be something of a disappointment, yielding only 6 chart-toppers.

One of these was Brimful of Asha by Cornershop, which I already had from the album. I now had a difficult decision to make. Should I stick with the album version, or replace it with the Norman Cook remix? The remix was almost entirely responsible for the success of the record, being the version that was played (constantly) on the radio. It effectively became the A-side, though strictly speaking the album version was the lead track.

It was certainly a dilemma. I decided to ask myself a question: “If Phill Jupitus was asked to perform the intro on ‘Never Mind The Buzzcocks’, which version would he do?” Norman Cook won the day and a precedent was set. The Phill Jupitus Test will now be the official deciding factor in the event of any similar quandaries in the future (Professional Widow by Tori Amos springs to mind).

The CD singles also turned up 'Guaglione' by Perez ‘Prez’ Prado and his Orchestra (as featured on a Guinness ad a few years back). Never a Number One itself, but the record label also kindly thought to include Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White, which was a Number One hit for ‘Prez’ in 1955 – the 31st record to hit the top and now the earliest in the collection.

My 7” singles proved more lucrative, with 21 new Number Ones plus a few improvements (such as the correct version of Blondie’s Heart of Glass – different, as I suspected, to the album version I had already included). This was a little less than I had hoped for, but still a decent haul, particularly since most of these are the original releases and many have picture sleeves.

But once again, problems arise. For example, I have here a copy of I Want To Hold Your Hand by The Beatles, the 160th Number One. This is definitely the original 1963 7” release (you only need to listen to the surface noise on the vinyl to be sure of that) but it is held in a plain white sleeve. I have no idea what kind of packaging the single was originally issued in. It may indeed have been a plain white sleeve, but I can think of no easy way of finding out. I’m sure I could, with a bit of research, check the covers of individual singles, but to do them all seems horribly difficult.

I will have to consider this problem further. In the meantime I can be satisfied at my growing collection, now totalling 64*. There’s a long way to go, but I feel like I’m getting somewhere.

* For the pedants amongst you, I know the sums don’t add up. I knocked a couple off last week’s total since I had included a couple of incomplete double A-sides.


  • I like the opportunity the blog provides of the odd quiz question as you go along. I enjoyed answering the repeated number ones question and it suggests another one to me, though I don't know the answer. The question is, how many and which songs/tunes have been number ones for different artists? One of the famous examples I can think about, as a starter, is 'Spirit in the Sky'. Am I right in thinking this was not only number one for three different artists but also three one hit wonders: viz, Norman Greenbaum, Doctor and the Medics, and Gareth Gates with the Kumars?

    By Blogger David Williams, at 2/11/2005 4:46 pm  

  • Almost correct. Norman Greenbaum was a One Hit Wonder, but Doctor and the Medics had a couple of smaller hits afterwards - 'Burn' reached 29 and 'Waterloo' 45 (and yes, it was a version of the Abba song, which was of course a Number One itself). According to my source, the Gareth Gates version was credited as 'Gareth Gates with special guests The Kumars' which I think would disqualify it as a One Hit Wonder, because records with a lead and a featured artist, as opposed to duets etc, would be counted along with the lead artist's other hits. I have just e-mailed the Guinness Book of Hit Singles to clarify this ;-)

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 2/23/2005 8:13 pm  

  • I've just had an e-mail reply from the Editor of the Guinness Book of Hit Singles confirming that Gareth & The Kumars is NOT a One Hit Wonder as far as they are concerned.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 2/24/2005 11:51 am  

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