Men and women are working together at the highest levels. And, no, I'm not talking about Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. I'm going right to the top, to the uppermost reaches of The Billboard 200. For the first time in chart history, the top three albums are all by mixed-gender groups. Sade's Soldier Of Love holds at #1 for the second week, Lady Antebellum's Need You Now holds at #2 and the Black Eyed Peas' The E.N.D. rebounds to #3.
Mixed-gender groups weren't always so common. From 1945, when Billboard published its first album chart, to 1962, not one mixed-gender group hit #1. The first one to achieve the feat was Peter, Paul & Mary in September 1962. The Grammy-winning trio featured Mary Travers, who died last September.
In the past 47 years, 22 more mixed-gender groups and duos have reached #1. Just about all major genres are represented, from pop and rock to country and rap.
Here's a list of all 23 mixed-gender groups and duos that have had #1 albums on The Billboard 200. I show only the group's first album to reach #1, though in my notes, I detail which acts made it back to the top spot.
Peter, Paul & Mary, Peter, Paul and Mary, 1962. Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey and Mary Travers comprised this folk-pop trio. This album spawned two top 40 singles, "Lemon Tree" and the socially-conscious top 10 hit "If I Had A Hammer (The Hammer Song)." The trio returned to #1 in 1963 with In The Wind.
The Mamas & The Papas, If You Can Believe Your Eyes And Ears, 1966. This was the first #1 album by a group that was comprised equally of women (Cass Elliot, Michelle Phillips) and men (John Phillips, Denny Doherty). The album spawned two top five hits, the classic "California Dreamin'" and the chart-topping "Monday, Monday."
Big Brother & The Holding Company, Cheap Thrills, 1968. Janis Joplin was the lead singer of this rock band. This album spawned two hits, "Down On Me" (which Joplin wrote) and the top 20 "Piece Of My Heart." Joplin died in 1970, but landed a posthumous #1 solo album in 1971 with Pearl.
Sly & the Family Stone, There's A Riot Goin' On, 1971. The mad genius Sly Stone headed this legendary "psychedelic soul" group which also included his cousin Larry Graham; his sister Rosie Stone and Cynthia Robinson. This album spawned two top 30 hits, the funky #1 "Family Affair" and the poppy "Runnin' Away."
Paul McCartney & Wings, Red Rose Speedway, 1973 Linda McCartney joined her famous husband in this pop/rock group (which also featured Denny Laine). This album spawned the #1 valentine, "My Love." The group's next four albums (Band On The Run, Venus And Mars, Wings At The Speed Of Sound, Wings Over America) also reached #1.
Carpenters, The Singles 1969-1973, 1974. Karen and Richard Carpenter were the first mixed-gender duo to reach #1. (Sonny & Cher stalled at #2.) This collection featured their first nine (!) million-sellers, including "Close To You," "We've Only Just Begun" and two songs that Richard co-wrote, "Yesterday Once More" and "Top Of The World."
Jefferson Starship, Red Octopus, 1975. Grace Slick, Marty Balin and Paul Kantner fronted this pop-rock band, which evolved from the iconic '60s band Jefferson Airplane. This album featured a pair of hits: the top five smash "Miracles" (written by Balin) and "Play On Love" (co-written by Slick). Kantner is still with the group.
Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood Mac, 1976. Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie wrote all three of this album's top 20 hits. Nicks wrote "Rhiannon (Will You Ever Win)." McVie contributed "Over My Head" and "Say You Love Me." The pop-rock quintet has had three more #1 albums: Rumours, Mirage and The Dance.
John Lennon /Yoko Ono, Double Fantasy, 1980. Lennon and Ono teamed for this album, which was released a couple of weeks before he was shot to death in December 1980. The album spawned three top 10 hits: "(Just Like) Starting Over," "Woman" and "Watching The Wheels."
Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain, 1984. Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman joined Prince in this short-lived group. This album spawned four top 10 hits, including the #1 smashes "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy." The group followed Purple Rain with another #1 album, Around The World In A Day.
Heart, Heart, 1985. Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson are the core members of this long-running pop/rock group. The album spawned four top 10 hits: "What About Love?," "Never" (which Ann co-wrote), the #1 "These Dreams" and "Nothin' At All."
Sade, Promise, 1986. Helen Adu fronts this durable pop/soul quartet. The album spawned two top 20 hits, both of which Adu co-wrote: "The Sweetest Taboo" and "Never As Good As The First Time." Sade is back at #1 this week with Soldier Of Love.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Live 1975-1985, 1986. This massive, five-disk live album featured Springsteen's future wife Patti Scialfa on background vocals. The album spawned two hits: a cover of the Edwin Starr smash "War" and a version of Springsteen's "Fire" (which had been a hit for Pointer Sisters).
Ace Of Base, The Sign, 1994. The ultra-poppy Swedish quartet was fronted by sisters Jenny and Linn Berggren. Their brother Jonas Berggren co-wrote the lead single, "All That She Wants," with the group's other male member, Ulf Ekberg. Jonas also wrote the #1 smash "The Sign." "Don't Turn Around" was the album's third top five hit.
Smashing Pumpkins, Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness, 1995. D'Arcy Wretzky was the bassist in this Grammy-winning rock band. This double-disk album debuted at #1 and spawned four top 40 hits, including "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" and "1979."
The Fugees (Refugee Camp), The Score, 1996. Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel comprised this hip-hop trio. They co-wrote the album's first hit, "Fu-Gee-La." The album also featured an update of the Roberta Flack classic "Killing Me Softly." Hill went on to land a #1 album of her own, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill.
No Doubt, Tragic Kingdom, 1996. Gwen Stefani fronts this pop/ska quartet. She also co-wrote all three of this album's big hits, "Just A Girl," "Spiderwebs" and "Don't Speak," which was the first non-single to reach #1 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart.
Ruff Ryders, Ruff Ryders-Ryde Or Die, Vol. I, 1999. Eve was joined in this all-star rap collective by DMX, Drag-On, The Lox and Swizz Beatz. Five months later, Eve had a #1 album of her own with Ruff Ryders' First Lady.
Evanescence, The Open Door, 2006. Amy Lee fronts this rock quartet, which won a Grammy as Best New Artist of 2003. Lee co-wrote the album's only Hot 100 hit, "Call Me When You're Sober," which made the top 10.
Sugarland, Love On The Inside, 2008. Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush comprise this country duo. They helped to write the top 20 hit, "All I Want To Do." Sugarland followed this album with the cleverly-titled Live On The Inside, which hit #1 in 2009.
The Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D., 2009. Fergie and will.i.am front this hip-hop-edged pop quartet. This album has spawned four top 10 hits, including two of the longest-running #1 hits of all time, "Boom Boom Pow" and "I Gotta Feeling." (Perhaps you've heard them.)
Lady Antebellum, Need You Now, 2010. All three members of this country trio (Charles Kelley, Dave Haywood and Hillary Scott) helped to co-write the tender "Need You Now," the top five hit from this album.