the Beatles in a studio portrait

Longest-running Billboard #1 singles from the 1960s

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June 24, 2022
Central Press // Getty Images

Longest-running Billboard #1 singles from the 1960s

The 1960s are often remembered as a decade of social and political change, in a manner not dissimilar to today’s climate. Amid the upheaval of gender norms and racial bias, popular music was undergoing its own revolution. While the music of the 1960s began with the lullaby-like sounds of Elvis Presley and the Everly Brothers, the decade of peace and love ended with the socially conscious grooves of Marvin Gaye and psychedelic funk of Sly & The Family Stone and the 5th Dimension.

It’s difficult to know if these acts were as popular as today’s culture suggests or if society is remembering them through rose-colored glasses. Were iconic acts like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones the reigning kings of the charts? Or did one-hit wonders like the Archies and Zager and Evans hold that #1 spot the longest?

In order to sort it all out, Stacker has turned to one source that remembers the 1960s more clearly than anyone: the Billboard charts. Using data from the Billboard Hot 100 archives (current as of June 2022), Stacker compiled a ranking of all #1 singles between 1960-1969. Songs that spent the same amount of time on the charts are ranked in the order they were released. Read on to see which singles kept Billboard listeners grooving up through the Summer of Love and beyond.

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Don Kirschner receives award for the best single of 1969 for the record 'Sugar Sugar'
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Central Press // Getty Images

#44. Sugar, Sugar

- Artist: The Archies
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Sept. 20, 1969

While Archie, Veronica, Betty, and Jughead can be found today on The CW’s teen drama “Riverdale,” they were busy tearing up the charts in 1969. The fictional band—comprised of co-songwriter Andy Kim and local session musicians—was assembled by Don Kirshner, the talent manager who put together The Monkees, among other famous groups of the era.

The Rolling Stones on a London street
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Terry Disney/Express // Getty Images

#43. Honky Tonk Women

- Artist: The Rolling Stones
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Aug. 23, 1969

The first single to be released after the death of their rhythm guitarist, Brian Jones, this country-influenced tune helped get the Stones their third #1 on the Billboard chart. Although the song’s lyrics reference the American West, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote it while on tour in Brazil.

Tommy Roe at EMI House in Manchester Square
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PA Images // Getty Images

#42. Dizzy

- Artist: Tommy Roe
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: March 15, 1969

Although this song spent four weeks at the top of the charts, it was the last #1 hit for Tommy Roe. The song lives on, however, having been covered numerous times since its release in 1968.

"Sly & The Family Stone" pose for a portrait in 1968
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Michael Ochs Archives // Getty Images

#41. Everyday People

- Artist: Sly & the Family Stone
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Feb. 15, 1969

This first #1 hit from Sly and the Family Stone was also the first single from their fourth album, “Stand!” Some have argued that Sly’s message of racial acceptance is just as relevant today as it was in 1968.

American musician Herb Alpert playing a trumpet,
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Silver Screen Collection // Getty Images

#40. This Guy’s in Love with You

- Artist: Herb Alpert
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: June 22, 1968

As an artist who split his time between singing and playing trumpet in the Tijuana Brass Band, Herb Alpert is considered an unlikely chart success by today’s standards. However, Alpert would see the top of the Billboard charts again in 1979 with the instrumental track “Rise.”

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Close up of Otis Redding in 1967
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Billboard, page 7, 7 January 1967 // Wikimedia Commons

#39. (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay

- Artist: Otis Redding
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: March 16, 1968

This posthumous release from Otis Redding won two Grammys in 1968, for Best Rhythm and Blues Performance and Best Rhythm and Blues Song. Although it has since become one of Redding’s most popular songs, record executives almost didn’t release it after it was recorded.

The Monkees seated in four director chairs with their logo on the back
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Billboard // Wikimedia Commons

#38. Daydream Believer

- Artist: The Monkees
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Dec. 2, 1967

This last #1 hit for The Monkees was written by songwriter John Stewart, who had previously made his name as a part of the Kingston Trio. Despite the song’s dark lyrics about the pitfalls of suburban marriage, it provided a successful swan song for the teen-pop band.

The Box Tops pose in Central Park, New York City
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Michael Ochs Archives // Getty Images

#37. The Letter

- Artist: Box Tops
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Sept. 23, 1967

This blue-eyed soul hit introduced listeners to singer Alex Chilton, who would later go on to front the cult classic ’70s group Big Star. As if being the frontman of two successful rock groups wasn’t enough, Chilton recorded the vocals for “The Letter” when he was only 16.

Bobbie Gentry performs on the Bobbie Gentry music series for BBC Television
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David Redfern // Getty Images

#36. Ode to Billie Joe

- Artist: Bobbie Gentry
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Aug. 26, 1967

At the time of its release, the plot of this mysterious country ballad left listeners so fascinated that it was later adapted into a novel and a film. Although Bobbie Gentry abruptly retired from music in 1983, she has continued to serve as an influence for today’s country and folk artists.

Russ Giguere and Jim Yester at a recording session
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Michael Ochs Archives // Getty Images

#35. Windy

- Artist: The Association
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: July 1, 1967

This song was the second #1 hit for The Association, a California pop band with multiple vocalists. Jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery later scored his highest-charting hit with his cover of the song.

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Portrait of The Young Rascals
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Bettmann // Getty Images

#34. Groovin’

- Artist: The Young Rascals
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: May 20, 1967

By the time the Young Rascals released this 1967 hit, they were widely known for soul and R&B numbers like “Lonely Too Long” and “I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore.” However, it took the Latin grooves of “Groovin’,” inspired by lead singer Felix Cavaliere’s time in New York’s Catskill Mountains, to send them to the top of the charts.

Frank Sinatra performing with daughter Nancy Sinatra
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CBS Television // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Somethin’ Stupid

- Artist: Nancy Sinatra and Frank Sinatra
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: April 15, 1967

This duet between Nancy Sinatra and Ol’ Blue Eyes himself is known as the only father-daughter duet to hit #1 on the Billboard charts. Although the song’s romantic lyrics left some listeners feeling uneasy, the duo would sing together again on the singles “Feelin’ Kinda Sunday” and “Life’s a Trippy Thing” in 1970 and 1971, respectively.

The Beatles rehearse at alpha T.V. studios
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Mirrorpix // Getty Images

#32. Yesterday

- Artist: The Beatles
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Oct. 9, 1965

This melancholy ballad kept Paul McCartney and the rest of the Beatles on top of the charts for four weeks straight. It continues to be a regular part of McCartney’s setlist whenever he tours. Not bad for a song that started out as an ode to breakfast food.

The Rolling Stones on stage at Regal Cinema, Cambridge
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Mirrorpix // Getty Images

#31. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction

- Artist: The Rolling Stones
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: July 10, 1965

Although this song became famous for its now-iconic guitar riff, it could have had a much different sound. Keith Richards recorded the riff in his sleep after hearing it in a dream, and intended to replace it with a horn section in the recording studio.

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GAC-General Artists Corporation-IMTI-International Talent Management Inc. // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Baby Love

- Artist: The Supremes
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Oct. 31, 1964

By the time the Supremes recorded this classic R&B number, they were struggling to shake their reputation as a “no-hit” girl group. Fortunately for them, “Baby Love” was the first of the group’s five #1 hits, two of which they’d earn within the same year.

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Bobby Vinton during a TV appearance
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CBS Television // Wikimedia Commons

#29. There! I’ve Said It Again

- Artist: Bobby Vinton
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: January 4, 1964

Bobby Vinton recorded the vocals for his cover of this 1945 hit in one take. He’d later see the top of the charts at the end of 1964 with his hit “Mr. Lonely.”

The singing nun performs on her guitar for two other nuns.
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Keystone // Getty Images

#28. Dominique

- Artist: The Singing Nun
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Dec. 7, 1963

This 1963 track from former Dominican nun Jeannine Deckers is known as the only Belgian track to hit #1 on the American Billboard charts. While “The Singing Nun” never again reached the commercial heights of “Dominique,” a 2009 biopic drew new attention to her unlikely pop career.

Still life of a 45 rpm record of the single 'He's So Fine'
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Blank Archives // Getty Images

#27. He’s So Fine

- Artist: The Chiffons
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: March 30, 1963

Although this debut single from the Chiffons was enough to send them to the top of the charts, it was the group’s only #1 hit. The song later became the focal point of a lawsuit against former Beatle George Harrison, who was accused of plagiarizing the song for his 1970 hit “My Sweet Lord.”

Bobby Vinton sitting and adjusting stereo equipment
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Michael Ochs Archives // Getty Images

#26. Roses Are Red (My Love)

- Artist: Bobby Vinton
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: July 14, 1962

This 1962 hit was a career-saver for Bobby Vinton, who picked the song from a pile of rejects after a meeting with his record label turned sour. The song would later be featured in Martin Scorsese’s film “Goodfellas,” where it was lip-synced by Vinton’s son Robbie.

Del Shannon recording in a studio at a vintage microphone
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Donaldson Collection // Getty Images

#25. Runaway

- Artist: Del Shannon
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: April 24, 1961

This haunting 1961 track was the first and only #1 hit for Del Shannon. Although he never matched the success of “Runaway,” he continued to tour and record music up until his death in 1990.

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Elvis Presley performs in a television appearance
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Bettmann // Getty Images

#24. Stuck on You

- Artist: Elvis Presley
- Number of weeks at #1: 4
- Date first entered into Hot 100: April 25, 1960

Elvis Presley’s first #1 hit marked his return to the charts after a two-year stint in the U.S. Army. He later performed the track on “The Frank Sinatra Timex Show: Welcome Home Elvis,” where Sinatra introduced the King of Rock and Roll to an even wider audience.

The Beatles lined up in profile.
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Bettmann // Getty Images

#23. Get Back

- Artist: The Beatles with Billy Preston
- Number of weeks at #1: 5
- Date first entered into Hot 100: May 24, 1969

This 1969 track was recorded for a hypothetical album called “Get Back,” meant to serve as a shot in the arm for the Fab Four after the difficult sessions for their 1968 self-titled “White” album. Although the “Get Back” album wasn’t released until after the Beatles’ breakup in 1970—then retitled “Let It Be”—the track was a late-career success for the band.

The Rascals in an unspecified recording studio
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Michael Ochs Archives // Getty Images

#22. People Got to Be Free

- Artist: The Rascals
- Number of weeks at #1: 5
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Aug. 17, 1968

Coming just one year after the success of their #1 hit “Groovin’,” “People Got to Be Free” marked the last time the Rascals saw the top of the charts. The song was inspired by the racial tension the band witnessed when touring the southern U.S.

Bobby Goldsboro, performing 'Honey'
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Ivan Keeman // Getty Images

#21. Honey

- Artist: Bobby Goldsboro
- Number of weeks at #1: 5
- Date first entered into Hot 100: April 13, 1968

Bobby Goldsboro’s only #1 hit tells the story of a widower as he remembers his deceased wife. While the song’s tear-jerking lyrics were enough to send it to #1 for five weeks, it hasn’t been remembered fondly by some members of the Flower Power generation.

View of a 7" 45rpm single by Paul Mauriat that features 'Love Is Blue'
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Blank Archives // Getty Images

#20. Love is Blue

- Artist: Paul Mauriat
- Number of weeks at #1: 5
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Feb. 10, 1968

Although this song debuted as an entry in the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest, it was Paul Mauriat’s instrumental cover that took “Love is Blue” to the top of the charts. Mauriat’s recording is emblematic of the “easy-listening” genre that became popular in the 1960s and was even featured on a season finale of the ’60s period drama “Mad Men.”

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Lulu performing on her own BBC TV show
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Michael Putland // Getty Images

#19. To Sir With Love

- Artist: Lulu
- Number of weeks at #1: 5
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Oct. 21, 1967

This #1 comes from the soundtrack of the 1967 film of the same name, in which Sidney Poitier plays a Black engineer who takes a job teaching a class of white children. “To Sir With Love” came into the spotlight once again in 2017 when the “Saturday Night Live” cast parodied the song as a farewell to former U.S. President Barack Obama.

Sleeve Of SSgt. Barry Sadler's 'The Ballad Of The Green Berets/Letter From Vietnam'
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Blank Archives // Getty Images

#18. Ballad of the Green Berets

- Artist: SSgt Barry Sadler
- Number of weeks at #1: 5
- Date first entered into Hot 100: March 5, 1966

In contrast to many of the anti-war songs of the 1960s, this #1 hit is a send-up to the Green Berets of the Army Special Forces. Songwriter Barry Sadler was a member of the Special Forces himself and wrote the song after leaving the military due to injuries.

The Beatles pose with British p[olice wearing Bobby hats
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West Midlands Police // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Can’t Buy Me Love

- Artist: The Beatles
- Number of weeks at #1: 5
- Date first entered into Hot 100: April 4, 1964

This 1964 hit for the Beatles was written while the group was playing a residency in Paris. The song’s romantic, anti-consumerist lyrics have caused listeners to speculate that it may be an ode to prostitution. However, songwriter Paul McCartney has strongly denied these allegations.

Jimmy Gilmer performs with the Fireballs on a TV show
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We hope // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Sugar Shack

- Artist: Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs
- Number of weeks at #1: 5
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Oct. 12, 1963

This song’s famous whistle-sounding riff is the product of a 1940s Hammond organ, played in the studio by producer Norman Petty. It was the only #1 for Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs, who made the charts for the first time in 1964 with “Ain’t Gonna Tell Anybody.”

The Four Seasons, circa 1963, playing instruments and singing
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Archive Photos // Getty Images

#15. Big Girls Don’t Cry

- Artist: The Four Seasons
- Number of weeks at #1: 5
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Nov. 17, 1962

The second #1 hit for the Four Seasons,“Big Girls Don’t Cry” features the same falsetto vocals that sent their debut “Sherry” to the top of the charts. The song’s lyrics were inspired by the strained gender relations depicted in films like “Tennessee’s Partner.”

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The Four Seasons perform on stage
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Michael Ochs Archives // Getty Images

#14. Sherry

- Artist: The Four Seasons
- Number of weeks at #1: 5
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Sept. 15, 1962

The Four Seasons’ debut single was also the band’s first of five #1 hits. Songwriter and keyboardist Bob Gaudio claimed to have written the song in 15 minutes, a process that was later depicted in the hit Broadway musical and film “Jersey Boys.”

Ray Charles performing at the Olympia in Paris
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REPORTERS ASSOCIES // Getty Images

#13. I Can’t Stop Loving You

- Artist: Ray Charles
- Number of weeks at #1: 5
- Date first entered into Hot 100: June 2, 1962

This 1962 single comes from Charles’ album “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.” At the time when the Civil Rights Movement was still a grassroots campaign, Charles’ decision to record a country album was seen as a radical choice by the music industry.

Photo of Country Music singer Jimmy Dean
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GAB Archive // Getty Images

#12. Big Bad John

- Artist: Jimmy Dean
- Number of weeks at #1: 5
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Nov. 6, 1961

The inspiration for this 1961 hit came from John Minto, an actor Jimmy Dean had befriended earlier in his career. Although the song was Jimmy Dean’s only #1 hit, the singer’s name would later become ubiquitous through his popular brand of breakfast sausages.

Sergeant Elvis Presley at a Press Conference
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Historical // Getty Images

#11. It’s Now or Never

- Artist: Elvis Presley
- Number of weeks at #1: 5
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Aug. 15, 1960

Although Elvis became famous for the raucous sound of hits like “Hound Dog” and “A Big Hunk O’ Love,” it was this reworking of a 1901 Italian tune that would become one of his biggest hits. Elvis was introduced to the song while serving in the U.S. Army and requested that his publisher write English lyrics for the tune originally known as “O Sole Mio.”

The Everly Brothers sing during a TV appearance
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GaHetNa (Nationaal Archief NL) // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Cathy’s Clown

- Artist: The Everly Brothers
- Number of weeks at #1: 5
- Date first entered into Hot 100: May 23, 1960

The Everly Brothers’ first #1 hit after signing a $1 million contract with Columbia Records didn’t come easy to the duo. “Cathy’s Clown” was the ninth single they recorded for their label debut. The song was later an unlikely #1 for Reba McEntire, who recorded the song with slightly altered lyrics in 1989.

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Photo of Zager & Evans in studio
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Michael Ochs Archives // Getty Images

#9. In the Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus)

- Artist: Zager and Evans
- Number of weeks at #1: 6
- Date first entered into Hot 100: July 12, 1969

Although this futuristic 1969 hit sent Zager and Evans blasting off to the top of the charts, their pop career would stall out well before the year 2525. None of the band's subsequent singles cracked the Billboard Hot 100, landing the group firmly on “planet one-hit wonder.”

The 5 members of the 5th Dimension perform onstage
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Arnie Lee // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)

- Artist: The 5th Dimension
- Number of weeks at #1: 6
- Date first entered into Hot 100: April 12, 1969

While the 1967 musical “Hair” garnered controversy for its open depictions of the free love movement, its music had no problem wooing listeners. This medley of two tracks from the musical granted the 5th Dimension their first #1 hit.

Elvis in a publicitiy still holding a guitar
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Hulton Archive // Getty Images

#7. Are You Lonesome Tonight?

- Artist: Elvis Presley
- Number of weeks at #1: 6
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Nov. 28, 1960

Much like “It’s Now or Never,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” was a reworking of a decades-old pop hit. Although “Lonesome” was written in 1926 by Roy Turk and Lou Handman, Elvis Presley’s modern, quiet croon and vocal echo made the tune a hit with audiences more than three decades later.

Marvin Gaye with Barney Ales of Motown with gold discs of single 'I Heard It Through The Grapevine'
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GAB Archive // Getty Images

#6. I Heard It Through the Grapevine

- Artist: Marvin Gaye
- Number of weeks at #1: 7
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Dec. 14, 1968

When Marvin Gaye took to the microphone to record “Grapevine,” the song was already a Motown classic, having been recorded by Gladys Knight in 1967. Fortunately, listeners didn’t mind hearing Gaye’s take on the song, which inspired a number of covers from artists like Creedence Clearwater Revival, Roger Troutman, and punk band the Slits.

The Monkees frolic on the beach for a photo shoot
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Billboard // Wikimedia Commons

#5. I’m a Believer

- Artist: The Monkees
- Number of weeks at #1: 7
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Dec. 31, 1966

The Monkees’ second #1 hit was penned by acclaimed songwriter Neil Diamond, who would later go on to have three #1 hits of his own. Smash Mouth covered the song for the soundtrack of the 2001 film “Shrek,” albeit to much less acclaim.

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The Beatles prepare to perform on a TV set
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David Redfern/Redferns // Getty Images

#4. I Want to Hold Your Hand

- Artist: The Beatles
- Number of weeks at #1: 7
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Feb. 1, 1964

The Beatles’ first #1 hit in America marked the start of the British Invasion, as well as the Beatles’ dominance over the pop charts for the rest of the decade. Over the course of their six-year career, their songs would top the Billboard Hot 100 for a grand total of 59 weeks.

Bobby Lewis posed with a microphone
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Michael Ochs Archives // Getty Images

#3. Tossin’ and Turnin’

- Artist: Bobby Lewis
- Number of weeks at #1: 7
- Date first entered into Hot 100: July 10, 1961

Although Bobby Lewis’ debut single sent him tossin’ and turnin’ to the top of the charts, once he tumbled down, he never got back up. The singer followed the biggest hit of 1961 with three more singles, none of which matched the success of “Tossin’ and Turnin’.”

The Beatles wave to fans at an airport
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DLindsley // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Hey Jude

- Artist: The Beatles
- Number of weeks at #1: 9
- Date first entered into Hot 100: Sept. 28, 1968

This Beatles ballad marked the first single released by the group’s then newly minted label, Apple Records. Written by Paul McCartney as a pick-me-up for John Lennon’s son, Julian, the song became the longest-charting single the Beatles ever released. The song remains a favorite among fans of the Fab Four, with a handwritten copy of the song’s lyrics going up for sale for $375,000 in 2018.

Bandleader Percy Faith makes notes on sheet music
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OTRR.org // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Theme from A Summer Place

- Artist: Percy Faith and His Orchestra
- Number of weeks at #1: 9
- Date first entered into Hot 100: February 22, 1960

Remarkably, the Beatles’ only match for chart length in the ’60s is this instrumental recording of a song from the 1959 film “A Summer Place.” Although the song marks Percy Faith’s only #1 hit, it won him the Grammy for Record of the Year in 1960.

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