Ask Billboard: Age Ain't Nothing But A Number

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. Submit your burning music questions to Gary Trust at Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


Hi Gary,

I enjoyed your Chart Beat article yesterday on the performers who have topped the Billboard 200 album chart before the age of 17. I hope you'll continue by acknowledging the senior statesmen (and women) who have topped the chart.

How about a similar list of those performers who have ruled the Billboard 200 after age 70? I guess you could look at those over 60, but it seems that there have been many who have pulled that off, including Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond.

Looking forward to it. Can you imagine hitting the top of the charts in your 70s, 80s or even 90s? How cool is that!


David Fritz
Reseda, California

Hi David,

The Billboard 200 is clearly an equal opportunity chart, as evidenced by the range of artists who have recently reigned. While 16-year-old Justin Bieber is No. 1 this week, Streisand's "Love Is the Answer" led the list six months ago when the legend was 67 years, five months and three weeks old.

In 2008, Neil Diamond, then 67 years and four months old, debuted at No. 1 with "Home Before Dark."

In 2006, Barry Manilow notched his second Billboard 200 topper, "The Greatest Songs of the Fifties," at age 62. Rod Stewart also enjoyed a No. 1 ranking that year at age 61.

The record for senior-most living solo artist to top the Billboard 200, however, belongs to Bob Dylan. On the chart dated May 24, 2009, the icon bowed at No. 1 with "Together Through Life." At the time, Dylan was a week shy of his 68th birthday.

(Johnny Cash is the deceased solo artist with the longest span between birth date and an appearance atop the Billboard 200. Having passed in 2003, he would've been 74 when "American V: A Hundred Highways" spent a week at No. 1 in 2006).

In order to find chart-topping septua-, octo- and nonagenarians, we need to consider a wider scope of Billboard charts, and the U.K. Albums survey.

Last September, Vera Lynn topped the Official UK Charts Company's Albums chart with "We'll Meet Again - the Very Best of." Lynn, who rose to fame in World War II when she sang songs and sent messages to British soldiers on her radio show, was 92 years young at the time of her coronation.

In 1989, classical music luminary Vladimir Horowitz passed away at age 86. At the time, his "Horowitz at Home" occupied the top spot on Classical Albums.

As for artists in their 70s who have commanded Billboard charts, Yoko Ono has sent five songs to the top of Dance/Club Play Songs since her 70th birthday in 2003.

And, look who just happens to rise from No. 3 to No. 2 this week on that chart.


Hi Gary,

Was there a rule change regarding the Billboard Hot 100?

I notice this week that Rob Thomas' "Someday" ranks at No. 67 in its 21st week on the chart. I thought that songs dropped off after 20 weeks if they ranked below No. 50.


Tommy Marx
Greensboro, North Carolina

Hi Tommy,

You are correct that songs generally move to recurrent status on the Hot 100 after 20 weeks if ranking below No. 50. However, exceptions are made if tracks are still gaining in chart points, and that's the case with Thomas' title.

"Someday" jumps from No. 73 to a new peak of No. 67. The song had previously risen as high as No. 72 in December and again two weeks ago.

Driven by increased radio action, the former Adult Pop Songs No. 1 and current Adult Contemporary top 10 (No. 10) lifts 54-49 on Radio Songs/Hot 100 Airplay with its best weekly audience yet (25 million).

The song also gains in digital sales (10,000 paid downloads, up 5%).

With those improvements, the song was given a reprieve from recurrent status for at least this week.


Hi Gary,

With the new, and final, Scorpions album, "Sting in the Tail," entering the Billboard 200 at No. 23, I was wondering about sales of their other albums, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Could you please provide the figures of both their recent albums and bigger albums of the past?


Thomas Christiansen
Copenhagen, Denmark

Hi Thomas,

As noted in Chart Beat yesterday, Scorpions this week enjoy their highest placement on the Billboard 200 since 1991. The band's new album begins with sales of 19,000, good enough to concurrently start at No. 6 on Rock Albums and No. 2 on Hard Rock Albums.

Here is a look at the band's biggest sellers since the advent of SoundScan data in 1991:

Sales to Date, Title (Year)
1,568,000, "Crazy World" (1991)
975,000, "Best of Rockers 'n' Ballads" (1989)
571,000, "20th Century Masters - the Millennium Collection" (2001)
468,000, "Love at First Sting" (1984)
348,000, "Big City Nights" (1998)
335,000, "World Wide Live" (1985)
334,000, "Bad for Good: the Very Best of Scorpions" (2002)
324,000, "Face the Heat" (1993)
231,000, "Blackout" (1982)

In the almost 19-year SoundScan era, Scorpions have sold 6,579,000 albums.

Encompassing the band's entire career, dating to the release of its debut set "Lonesome Crow" in 1972, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has certified Scorpions' album total at 10.5 million units.