When The Beatles officially parted ways in 1970, it was bittersweet. Obviously, the breakup represented a major loss to the group’s fans. However, on the other hand, it meant the Fab Four could pursue whatever projects they liked on their own.
Right away, great albums began to arrive, starting with Paul’s McCartney in April 1970. (John Lennon had already released experimental records with Yoko Ono.) The following month, Paul’s debut solo album became the first by a Beatle to top the Billboard 200 chart.
At the end of the year, George Harrison followed him there with All Things Must Pass. In fall 1971, John joined the group when Imagine topped the charts. If you’re keeping score, that amounted to three No. 1 albums in the space of 18 months.
Beatles fans didn’t have to settle much at all, it turned out, and there would be many more to come in the ’70s. However, Paul ended up with the most No. 1 hits for a few reasons.
Paul leads with 5 No. 1 albums since the Beatles broke up.
If you look at the chart activity of Paul, John, and George in the ’70s, you find three productive solo artists finding great success with their fans. George hit No. 2 in ’72 and topped the charts again in ’73. Paul had No. 1 hits in ’74 and ’77.
John hit No. 1 again in ’74 with Walls and Bridges. But his next big hit, 1980’s Double Fantasy, arrived just before his death. That tied him with Paul at three chart-toppers apiece.
Paul found his way back to the top again with 1982’s Tug of War and then, amazingly, once again in 2018, with Egypt Station. His No. 1 album count stops there (for now) at five. After the passing of George in 2001, his record is safe.
Ringo, for his part, never saw the top of the charts as a solo artist, though he did see No. 2 with 1972’s Ringo. However, Ringo did taste No. 1 twice with his singles “Photograph” and “You’re 16.”
John’s ‘Double Fantasy’ held the No. 1 spot the longest (8 weeks).
Since we’ve covered the quantity of No. 1 records by former Beatles, we should probably check on the quality. In this case, we’ll use the standard of how long the record ruled the Billboard 200 charts.
That honor goes to John, whose Double Fantasy stayed atop the charts for eight weeks. (Since that album hit No. 1 after his murder, you could say it had an artificial bump, but whatever.)
Close behind, you find George’s All Things Must Pass, which grabbed the top spot and didn’t let go for seven weeks. If you want to know which Beatle album lasted the longest on the charts overall, there’s no contest: Paul’s Band on the Run (with Wings) hung around 120 weeks.
Sure, The Beatles broke up unofficially in 1969 and officially the following year. However, for the next decade and then some, they kept delivering music fans would swarm to record stores to buy.
In Paul’s case, they never rally stopped.
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