Combining Jackson 5 and solo hits, Jackson amassed 17 #1 hits on Billboard's pop singles chart, which puts him high on the list of artists with the most #1 hits in the rock era. The Beatles had 20 (and all four individual members had more on their own). Jackson's friend and one-time co-star Diana Ross had 18 (combining 12 hits with the Supremes and six on her own). Mariah Carey has also had 18. Elvis Presley, who Jackson emulated and whose daughter he married, also had 17.I Want You Back," cracked the top 10 the very last week of the '60s. Jackson, of course, logged multiple #1 hits in the '70s, '80s and '90s. He kept his top 10 record alive in the 2000s (if just barely) when "You Rock My World" reached #10 in 2001.
It's not surprising that Jackson got hooked on the charts: He was fixture on them most of his life. Jackson was just 11 when the Jackson 5 first made the Hot 100 in November 1969. Before his 12th birthday in August 1970, he had sung lead on three #1 hits: "I Want You Back," "ABC" and "The Love You Save." (Two months later, there would be a fourth, "I'll Be There," which made the J5 the first group to reach #1 with its first four chart hits.)Josh Groban's Noel).
Jackson's obsession with the charts, and with awards and fame, had a downside. The charts are a lot like a drug--It doesn't matter how many hits you've had, you always want one more. As long as you're doing well on the charts, those Wednesday phone calls with the new numbers are exhilarating. But as soon as you start to slip, they're a weekly reminder of your fading appeal.Quincy Jones from 1979 to 1987. Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad sold tens of millions of copies and generated a combined total of 17 top 10 hits.
Beat It," one of the iconic hits from Thriller, was an homage to West Side Story.)
Thriller logged 78 weeks in the top 10, a total topped by only two albums since separate mono and stereo charts were combined into one comprehensive listing in 1963. (Those two albums: The Sound Of Music soundtrack and Bruce Springsteen's Born In The U.S.A.)Louis Armstrong in the 1920s and Duke Ellington in the '30s. But Jackson experienced career heat of an intensity that top black stars of previous decades could only dream of.
It's hard to imagine now, but in the five years before Thriller topped the chart, only one African American artist had a #1 album. That was disco queen Donna Summer, who scored three times. But after Thriller, this became a common occurrence. Between 1983 and 1986, Lionel Richie, Prince & the Revolution, Sade, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson and Patti LaBelle all topped the chart.
Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "Rock With You" were the key hits from Off The Wall. "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" were the stand-outs from Thriller. Jackson desperately wanted his 1987 album Bad to surpass his earlier albums' achievements, and in one respect, it did. The album produced five consecutive #1 hits: "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" (with Siedah Garrett), "Bad," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Man In The Mirror" and "Dirty Diana."the Winans and Andrae Crouch (both of whom sang on "Man In The Mirror") to rapper Heavy D (who appeared on his 1992 hit "Jam"). He also teamed with two members of British rock royalty: Paul McCartney ("The Girl Is Mine" and "Say Say Say") and Mick Jagger (who sang on the Jacksons' 1984 hit "State Of Shock"). He recorded chart hits with two former Motown label-mates: Diana Ross ("Ease On Down The Road") and Stevie Wonder ("Get It"). And he teamed with two rock icons: Eddie Van Halen (who played lead guitar on "Beat It") and Slash of Guns N' Roses (who did the honors on "Black Or White"). Scream"). The song debuted (and peaked) at #5 in June of that year.
Jackson was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame twice, as part of the Jackson 5 in 1997 and as a solo artist four years later. He received a Grammy Legend award in 1993, but didn't live to receive their Lifetime Achievement Award, which is considered a more meaningful honor.
Jackson had both success and disappointment at the Grammys. In early 1980, Off The Wall was shut out in the nominations in key categories (to his dismay). Jackson won just one award that year, for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough."Santana equaled the feat in 2000.) In 1986, Jackson and Lionel Richie won for Song of the Year for writing the all-star charity single, "We Are The World."
Except for the Song of the Year award for "We Are The World," which was very much a special case, all of Jackson's post-Thriller Grammys came in the lower-profile video categories. In 1985, he won for Best Video Album for Making Michael Jackson's Thriller. In 1990, he won for Best Music Video, Short Form for "Leave Me Alone." In 1996, he and his sister won that same award for "Scream."
Jackson's old songs and albums are sure to register on next week's charts. He is expected to make a strong showing on both the Hot Digital Songs and Top Catalog Albums charts. I'll have all the details in my regular Chart Watch blog on Wednesday.
The Fine Print: Some chart historians give Elvis Presley credit for 18 #1s, but after researching it thoroughly, I think 17 is the fairest count.