Chart Watch Extra:
by Paul Grein in Chart Watch
Barbra Streisand returned to #1 on The Billboard 200 this week with Love Is The Answer, 45 years after she first topped the chart with People. Only one artist in chart history, Elvis Presley, has had a longer span of #1 albums.
Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater were in the final week of a Presidential election when Streisand first reached #1 on Oct. 31, 1964. Bonanza was the season's top-rated TV show. Hello, Dolly! was Broadway's biggest hit. Mary Poppins was on its way to becoming the year's top-grossing movie.
Streisand landed her first #1 album by knocking off the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night soundtrack. She returns to the top spot this week after winning a close contest with Paramore, whose lead singer, Hayley Williams, was born 18 years after the Beatles broke up.
Streisand is one of two dozen artists who have had #1 albums spanning 20 or more years. In a business where even highly successful acts often have just a few years at the top, these artists have managed to spend decades at the forefront. Here's a complete list of these acts. Whether you're a headbanger or a "Fanilow," you're bound to find a favorite artist here.
Here are the acts that have had the longest span of #1 albums on The Billboard 200 since the chart debuted in March 1945 (when it was just a top 10 listing). Spans were rounded off to the nearest month.
1. Elvis Presley, 46 years and six months.
2. Barbra Streisand, 44 years and 11 months.
3. Ray Charles, 42 years and eight months.
4. The Beatles, 37 years.
5. Johnny Cash, 36 years and 11 months.
6. Bob Dylan, 35 years and three months.
7. Rod Stewart, 35 years and one month.
8. Led Zeppelin, 33 years and six months.
9. Eagles, 32 years and four months.
10. Santana, 32 years and one month.
11. Bruce Springsteen, 28 years and three months.
12. Barry Manilow, 28 years and seven months.
13. The Isley Brothers, 27 years and eight months.
14. AC/DC, 26 years and 11 months.
15. Eric Clapton, 26 years and two months.
16. Whitney Houston, 23 years and six months.
17. Madonna, 23 years and three months.
18. Pink Floyd, 22 years and two months.
19. U2, 21 years and 11 months.
20. Janet Jackson, 21 years and eight months.
21. Prince, 21 years and eight months.
22. Fleetwood Mac, 21 years. Fleetwood Mac (Sept. 4, 1976) to The Dance (Sept. 6, 1997). The former album spawned three top 20 hits, including "Over My Head" and "Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win)." Fleetwood Mac has had the longest span of #1 albums of any mixed-gender group.
23. Bon Jovi, 20 years and eight months.
24. Frank Sinatra, 20 years and four months.
The Fine Print: Michael Jackson would have appeared at #15 on this list if catalog albums were eligible to appear on The Billboard 200. Jackson first topped the chart with Thriller on Feb. 26, 1983. He had the best-selling album in the country most recently on Aug. 22 with Number Ones. Because that 2003 compilation is deemed "catalog," it was ineligible for the big chart. If it had been allowed to compete there, Jackson would have #1 albums spanning 26 years and six months.
And while hitting #1 is the ultimate badge of chart success, it's not the be-all and end-all. Frank Sinatra reached #2 in May 2008 with his hits compilation Nothing But The Best. If that album had sold 45,000 more copies that week, it would have topped the chart. If it had, Sinatra's span of #1 albums would have swelled to 62 years and two months, which would have propelled him into the top spot on this list. That's show-biz.