When it comes to judging a music legacy, the number of #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart should not come into play. It is ridiculous how many artists haven’t had number one hits – in fact I really didn’t believe it and had to do a bit of research but sure enough this list is accurate. Now just to clarify there are other charts but the Billboard Hot 100 is the all encompassing chart really.
Here is just a sample of some of the highest chart positions of some legendary bands. (See the full list below)
On a macro level, AC/DC are a sales juggernaut with more than 200 million albums sold. Their highest-charting U.S. single, however, is 1990’s “Moneytalks” – which stalled at No. 23.
Bruce Springsteen has written a No. 1 single (“Blinded by the Light” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band), but he’s never had his own. “Dancing in the Dark” spent four weeks at a career-best No. 2 in 1984, behind Duran Duran’s “The Reflex” and then Prince’s “When Doves Cry.”
Call them rock’s most consistent bridesmaids. Creedence reached the runner-up spot five consecutive times between March 1969 and October 1970, scoring No. 2 hits with “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Green River,” “Travelin’ Band/Who’ll Stop the Rain” and “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” / “Long as I Can See the Light.”
Electric Light Orchestra released 15 Top 20 hits between 1974-86, becoming radio staples along the way. They never got any higher than No. 4, however, with 1979’s “Don’t Bring Me Down.”
“Carry On Wayward Son,” “Play the Game Tonight” and “All I Wanted” all reached the Top 20, and “Point of Know Return” is a radio favorite. But Kansas hit their peak with 1978’s “Dust in the Wind,” which went to No. 6.
Kiss has nine Top 10 albums, including 2009’s best-ever No. 2 hit ‘Sonic Boom.’ Over on the singles chart, however, they never got any higher than No. 7, with 1976’s “Beth.”
Led Zeppelin had four Top 20 finishers, and another that just missed at No. 21. Their highest charting Billboard Hot 100 hit was “Whole Lotta Love,” which went to No. 4 in 1969. The nearest Robert Plant and Jimmy Page ever got as solo artists was 1984’s No. 3 hit “Sea of Love” with the Honeydrippers.
Somehow, none of Pearl Jam‘s initial run of career-making songs – “Alive,” “Even Flow” and “Jeremy” – got any higher than No. 79. Their best-charting song was the No. 2 charity single “Last Kiss” from 1999.
Surely “Love Is a Battlefield” topped the chart, right? Or “We Belong”? In fact, they were back-to-back No. 5 hits; Pat Benatar ended up with four Top 10 finishers but never a No. 1.
Tom Petty scored a string of Billboard No. 1 songs on the rock chart – 10, to be exact – but could get no closer than No. 7 (with 1989’s “Free Fallin'”) on the Billboard Hot 100. “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” his 1981 duet with Stevie Nicks, rose to No. 3.
…. and there are many more (too many to go into here but look them up).
Bad Company, Black Sabbath, The Clash, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Deep Purple, Bob Dylan, Grateful Dead, Green Day, Jefferson Airplane/Starship, Jimi Hendrix, Journey, Judas Priest, The Kinks, Lynyryd Skynyrd, Metallica, The Moody Blues, Nirvana, Ozzy Osborn, Ramones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, REM, Rush, Steely Dan, Sting, Supertramp, Talking Heads, Van Morrison, The Who, Yardbirds.