Nineteen duos 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. Ashford & Simpson isn't the only married couple on the list. Ike & Tina Turner, whose marriage was as turbulent as Ashford & Simpson's was harmonious, rank #2 among soul duos.
Nick Ashford died last Aug. 22. Ike Turner died Dec. 12, 2007.
Ashford & Simpson were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002, but they never won a Grammy, either for songwriting or recording. That doesn't seem right. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if one day the Recording Academy votes Ashford & Simpson a Special Merit Award, either a Lifetime Achievement Award or Trustees Award.
Two giant solo stars came out of soul or hip-hop duos: Tina Turner and Will Smith.
Here, to help celebrate Black Music Month, is a complete list of the duos to rank among the top 500 R&B hit-makers 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. Ike & Tina Turner. The husband-and-wife team had six top 10 R&B hits, from 1960's "A Fool In Love" to 1971's classic "nice and rough" cover of CCR's "Proud Mary" (which won a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group.) Ike Turner wrote the first five of these hits, which serves as a reminder of his musical talent. (It has been completely overshadowed in recent decades because of his well-chronicled abuse of his wife.) Tina Turner went on to have six top 10 R&B hits of her own. Top 500 ranking: #179.
4. Peaches & Herb. The duo had five top 10 hits, from 1967's "Close Your Eyes" to 1979's tender "Reunited," which reached #1 on both the pop and R&B charts. Herb Fame was the "Herb" on all five hits, but there were two different "Peaches" on these hits: Francine Barker and Linda Green. Top 500 ranking: #212.
6. Sam & Dave. Sam Moore and Dave Prater had seven top 10 R&B hits, from 1966's "You Don't Know Like I Know" to 1968's "I Thank You." Two reached #1 R&B: "Hold On! I'm A Comin'" and the classic "Soul Man" (which won a Grammy for Best R&B Group Performance). Isaac Hayes, a future Oscar-winner for Theme From Shaft, co-wrote all seven of these hits. Top 500 ranking: #269.
8. BeBe & CeCe Winans. The brother-and-sister team has had four top 10 R&B hits, from 1989's "Lost Without You" to 1992's "It's O.K." Two reached #1 R&B: "Addictive Love" and a remake of the Staple Singers' "I'll Take You There," which featured Mavis Staples. Both of the #1 hits were drawn from the duo's album Different Lifestyles, which won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album. CeCe Winans teamed with Whitney Houston for an additional top 10 hit, 1996's "Count On Me" (from Waiting To Exhale). Top 500 ranking: #325.
9. Daryl Hall & John Oates. The duo had two top 10 R&B hits in 1982-1983: "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" and "One On One." "I Can't Go For That" reached #1 on both the pop and R&B charts. Top 500 ranking: #334.
11. The Everly Brothers. Don and Phil Everly had six top 10 R&B hits, from 1957's "Bye Bye Love" to 1960's "Cathy's Clown." They co-wrote the latter song, which reached #1 on both the pop and R&B charts. They also topped both charts with "Wake Up Little Susie" and "All I Have To Do Is Dream." They won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. Top 500 ranking: #353.
13. Yarbrough & Peoples. Calvin Yarbrough and Alisa Peoples had five top 10 R&B hits, from 1981's "Don't Stop The Music" to 1986's "I Wouldn't Lie." "Don't Stop The Music" and 1984's "Don't Waste Your Time" both reached #1 R&B. Top 500 ranking: #395.
15. Changing Faces. Charisse Rose and Cassandra Lucas had three top 10 R&B hits: 1994's "Stroke You Up," 1995's "Foolin' Around" and 1997's "G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T." The last-named song reached #1 R&B. R. Kelly wrote all three songs. Top 500 ranking: #427.
16. "D" Train. James "D-Train" Williams and Hubert Eaves III had one top 10 R&B hit: 1984's "Something's On Your Mind." Williams had a second on his own: 1987's "Misunderstanding." The two men co-wrote both hits. Top 500 ranking: #433.
18. Mobb Deep. Kejuan "Havoc" Muchita and Albert "Prodigy" Johnson never had a top 10 R&B hit. Their highest-charting hit was 50 Cent's "Outta Control," on which they were featured. It reached #11. Their highest-charting hit as lead artists was "Got It Twisted," which reached #23 in 2004. Top 500 ranking: #462.
The Fine Print: Whitburn's list of the top 500 R&B artists combines hits by Wham! with George Michael's solo hits. As a result, George Michael/Wham! ranks #307 on the list. I asked Whitburn's ace researcher Paul Haney to break it down for us. Haney reports that, strictly on its own, Wham! wouldn't place in the top 500, and that without the duo's points, George Michael would rank #380.
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.
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