No one knows what's going to happen on the music charts. They fluctuate daily and bring surprises along the way. However, throughout the first quarter of 1964, who would remain on top was pretty obvious. The Beatles were the reigning champions for months, and it seemed no one could knock them down. That is until one of the most unlikely artists did.
The Beatles' almost four-month reign atop the U.S. pop charts
The success of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" did wonders for The Beatles. The song entered the Billboard Hot 100 on Jan. 18, 1964, at No. 45. By Feb. 1, the band had their first No. 1 hit in the U.S. However, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" didn't just give them their first U.S. hit. It helped kickstart Beatlemania and opened the door to the U.S., effectively starting the British Invasion.
Then, something interesting happened. With each new entry on the chart, The Beatles started kicking themselves off the No. 1 spot. "I Want to Hold Your Hand" remained at No. 1 for seven weeks before "She Loves You" replaced it on March 21. "She Loves You" stayed at No. 1 for two weeks. Before overtaking "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "She Loves You" waited at No. 2 for four weeks. No other artist had ever simultaneously held the first two spots on the Hot 100.
After "She Loves You" sat at No. 1 for two weeks, "Can't Buy Me Love" dethroned it on April 4, becoming the band's third No. 1 and continuing The Beatles' long reign atop the chart. This was the first time an artist had three consecutive chart-topping singles.
"Can't Buy Me Love" stayed on top for five weeks, during which time The Beatles held the top five spots, something no other artist had achieved. The top five spots were taken by "Can't Buy Me Love," "Twist and Shout," "She Loves You," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," and "Please Please Me."
During the second week that "Can't Buy Me Love" was atop the chart, The Beatles had 14 songs on the Hot 100 simultaneously. The Beatles held the top of the chart for three and a half months, longer than any artist before or since (per History). Until someone unexpectedly ended their reign.
Louis Armstrong unexpectedly dethroned The Beatles on the Hot 100
Just when it seemed as if no one could knock The Beatles off the top spot, or the top five for that matter, one of the most unlikely artists, famous singer, and trumpeter Louis Armstrong achieved just that. On May 9, 1964, Armstrong, who was 63, ended The Beatles' hold on the Hot 100 with his No. 1 hit "Hello Dolly."
Armstrong rose to fame in the jazz music scene in the 1920s and 1930s and shaped popular music before Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and even Little Richard. History argues that Armstrong's take over of the No. 1 spot in 1964 was "entirely appropriate" considering his legendary status.
However, it's worth pointing out that Armstrong had already seen the peak of his career years before The Beatles took control of the Hot 100. That's what makes his unexpected takeover so impressive. A musical veteran who helped form popular music took his rightful place at the top, taking it from a new band that was quickly taking the music world by storm. Talk about a comeback.
Stairway to 11 is dedicated to providing news, reviews, and original content covering classic rock, oldies, and old-school music of all genres. This site also serves as a community for like-minded fans to catch up on the latest news and discuss their passion. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.