LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Poor Elvis. Random sightings of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll have tapered off in recent years, and now he has mysteriously disappeared from the upper echelons of a new list that ranks the artists with the most No. 1 hits on the U.S. pop singles chart.
Until April, Elvis Presley and Mariah Carey tied at No. 2 on Billboard’s list of the top acts of the rock era with 17 No. 1 tunes each, behind the Beatles with 20.
But then Carey took sole possession of the silver medal when her single “Touch My Body” hit the top spot. That should still make Presley No. 3, but not according to Billboard which has demoted him to No. 14 with seven No. 1 hits, a ranking he now shares with Phil Collins.
The music publication, which has a news distribution arrangement with Reuters, is rolling out a series of charts to mark the 50th anniversary of its Hot 100 singles chart. The problem for Presley fans is that 10 of his chart-toppers predated the August 4, 1958, birth of the Hot 100.
From November 12, 1955, it was known as the Top 100, the first all-encompassing chart determined by radio play, retail sales and juke box usage.
In those 141 weeks before Billboard debuted the Hot 100 name to differentiate it from copycats, Presley ruled the chart for 57 weeks, according to Billboard. He never regained his commercial or creative momentum after he was inducted into the U.S. Army in March, 1958, according to some fans.
Billboard’s director of charts, Geoff Mayfield, defended the chart as still relevant despite the fact it ignores the heyday of the first real rock ‘n’ roll star.
“We are not pretending that the observation of the chart’s 50th anniversary is anything more than a look at those 50 specific years,” he wrote in an email.
“We take great care to couch comparisons of younger artists’ Hot 100 feats to those of Elvis, by informing readers that his chart feats predated the Hot 100’s launch.”
Upcoming specialty Billboard rankings will include the biggest one-hit wonders ever and the No. 1 songs of every year since 1958. The series culminates on September 10 with what it bills as the first ranking of the Hot 100 songs of all time.
Just don’t expect to see “Heartbreak Hotel” or “Hound Dog” on the list.
Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte