Comparing the US and UK Music Charts of the 1960s

It’s been a while since I posted anything, but I wanted to quickly share some information that I’ve gathered that compares how successful artists were in the US and the UK during the 1960s (the plan is to do more decades in the future).

To judge success, I assigned points based upon the Top 40 charts for both countries. The artist with the #1 song for each week got 40 points, the artist with the #2 song for each week got 39. I made sure that, in the case of a duet, both artists received credit; summed it up and did some quick math.

The first chart shows how many times both the US and UK charts shared artists in the Top 10, Top 25 and Top 50 per year. What I was surprised to find was just how different the US and UK charts were. Among the Top 50 artists in each country during the 60s, during the peak of Beatlemania and the English Invasion, there was only an average of 33% overlap between the charts. For the Top 25 and Top 10 artist, the average was even lower, only about 26%.

The next chart shows the artists that had the most success, per year, on both the US and the UK charts. The bar chart shows how successful the artist was in the US that year while the circle shows how successful that same artist was on the UK charts that year.

Next, I wanted to take a look at the artist who had the greatest discrepancy in success for the year between the US and UK charts. Here’s the artists who were more successful on the US charts than the UK charts. I was surprised to see that The Beatles “won” for 1964. It’s not that the Beatles weren’t successful in the UK, it’s just that they were so much more successful in the US than they were in the UK. As you can see, nobody else even came close to being as successful in any year as the Beatles were in 1964 in the US.

The next chart is a reverse of the one above, showing which bands dominated in the UK but were largely absent from the US. Some of these artist I had heard of (Cliff Richard in the early 60s, British Beatlemania of 1963, Englebert Humperdink (???) in 1967 and Tom Jones in 1968). I was also kind of amazed to see Fleetwood Mac here for 1969. That being said, I have absolutely no idea who Jim Reeves and Sandie Shaw were, let alone “Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky Mick and Tich” – what kind of a name is that?

Well, that’s it for now. Stay tuned for the next entry in this series when I take a look at the music charts of the 1970s

Written by Dave Curewitz

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