Twenty-one white artists rank among the top 500 R&B hit-makers in chart history in chart researcher Joel Whitburn's indispensable book Hot R&B Songs 1942-2010. The roster includes numerous blue-eyed soul singers (George Michael, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Robin Thicke, Justin Timberlake), a rap icon (Eminem), disco stars (KC & the Sunshine Band), a pop provocateur (Madonna), funk stars (Teena Marie, Average White Band), Latino crossover stars (Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, Fat Joe, Jennifer Lopez, Angela Bofill) and instrumentalists (Herb Alpert, Kenny G).
Here's a complete list of white artists who rank among the top 500 R&B hit-makers in chart history in Hot R&B Songs 1942-2010. At the end of each entry, I tell you where that act ranks among the top 500.
2. Johnny Otis. Otis amassed 17 top 10 R&B hits, from 1948's "That's Your Last Boogie," a Joe Swift hit on which Otis and his orchestra were featured, to 1958's classic "Willie And The Hand Jive." Eleven of the hits were collabos with Little Esther and/or Mel Walker. Otis was born John Veliotes in Vallejo, Calif. to Greek parents. His son, Shuggie Otis, wrote the Brothers Johnson's 1977 smash "Strawberry Letter 23." Top 500 ranking: #141.
4. KC & the Sunshine Band. The disco group included both black and white members, but leader Harry Wayne Casey is white. The group had seven top 10 R&B hits, from 1975's "Get Down Tonight" to 1979's "Do You Wanna Go Party." Casey co-wrote all seven songs with Richard Finch. (They also co-wrote three top 10 R&B hits, including "Rock Your Baby," for George McCrae.) K.C. was featured on Teri DeSario's hit remake of Barbara Mason's "Yes, I'm Ready" and on a chart hit by The 2 Live Crew. Top 500 ranking: #177.
6. Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam. The group had eight top 10 R&B hits, from 1985's "I Wonder If I Take You Home" (with Full Force) to 1991's "Let The Beat Hit 'Em." Three of these hits featured Full Force, which assembled and produced the act. Two reached #1 on both the pop and R&B charts: 1987's "Head To Toe" and "Lost In Emotion." Lead singer Lisa Velez, a Latina singer/actress, was born in Harlem. Top 500 ranking: #244.
8. George Michael/Wham!. The British artist has had six top 10 R&B hits, from Wham!'s 1985 hit "Careless Whisper" to 1989's "Heaven Help Me," a Deon Estus song on which he was featured. The tally includes a Grammy-winning duet with Aretha Franklin, "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)." "One More Try" reached #1 on both the pop and R&B charts in 1988. Michael, who was born Georgios Panayiotou, also charted with a collabo with Mary J. Blige. Top 500 ranking: #307.
10. The Everly Brothers. Brothers Don and Phil Everly had six top 10 R&B hits, from 1957's "Bye Bye Love" to 1960's "Cathy's Clown." "Wake Up Little Susie," "All I Have To Do Is Dream" and "Cathy's Clown" all reached #1 on both the pop and R&B charts. Top 500 ranking: #353.
12. Herb Alpert. The trumpeter had four top 10 R&B hits, from 1979's "Rise" to 1987's "Making Love In The Rain." The tally includes 1987's "Diamonds," a #1 R&B hit which featured a red-hot Janet Jackson. Alpert co-wrote Sam Cooke's 1960 hit "Wonderful World," which reached #2 R&B. Alpert first cracked the R&B chart as an artist in 1978 with a collabo with fellow 1960s vet Hugh Masekela. Top 500 ranking: #367.
14. Average White Band (AWB). The funk band from Scotland had two top 10 R&B hits in 1975: the instrumental "Pick Up The Pieces" and the double-entendre-laden "Cut The Cake." AWB later charted with a pair of collabos with the great Ben E. King. Top 500 ranking: #398.
16. Angela Bofill. The singer, who was born in the Bronx to a Cuban father and a Puerto Rican mother, had a top 10 R&B hit in 1983 with "Too Tough." She also made the top 15 with "Tonight I Give In" and a cover of Gino Vannelli's "I Just Wanna Stop." Top 500 ranking: #432.
18. Kenny G. The saxophonist amassed three top 20 R&B hits: a cover of Jr. Walker & the All-Stars' "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)," "Don't Make Me Wait For Love" and "We've Saved The Best For Last" (with Smokey Robinson). Kenny G (real name: Kenneth Gorelick) also charted with collabos with Kashif and Peabo Bryson. Top 500 ranking: #445.
20. Madonna. The pop icon hit the top 10 on the R&B chart with 1985's "Like A Virgin." Nile Rodgers of Chic produced the smash. Madonna's other top 20 R&B hits are "Into The Groove," "Like A Prayer" and "Vogue." Top 500 ranking: #463.
Disclaimer: The R&B chart didn't really find its groove until January 1965, when it was re-launched after a 14-month absence. Until then, pop smashes with little R&B content routinely climbed high on the R&B chart. As a result, the top 10 tallies for Presley, the Everly Brothers and Ricky Nelson are probably inflated.
If you enjoyed this report, you may be interested in two of Whitburn's books: Hot R&B Songs 1942-2010 and Top 10 R&B Hits 1942-2010. Whitburn's website is www.recordresearch.com.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Robin Thicke
- Justin Timberlake
- Teena Marie
- Teena Marie
- Shuggie Otis
- Elvis Presley
- Elvis Presley