Fred Bronson discusses George Michael, chart records, chart gaps and the Average White Band with readers.

DID GEORGE DO IT?

Dear Fred,

I really enjoy your column every week, and I wait every Friday to know more about chart facts. Last week, I read about the possibilities of Usher getting a fourth consecutive No. 1 during the same calendar year, something that hasn't happened since the Jackson 5. However, I would like to bring to your attention the case of George Michael.

He advanced to No. 1 the week of Dec. 12, 1987 with "Faith" and stayed there for four weeks, until he was replaced by Whitney Houston's "So Emotional" the week of Jan. 9, 1988. Then, George returned to No. 1 with "Father Figure" (Feb. 27), "One More Try" (May 28) and "Monkey" (Aug. 27). So, even when George Michael didn't advance to No. 1 he surely was at the top the very first eight days of 1988. I think that he should be at least mentioned for that achievement.

Best regards,

Juan Carlos Izaguirre
Lima, Peru
jotacei@terra.com.pe

Hi Fred,

You mentioned in "Chart Beat Bonus" that Usher might become the first artist to land four No. 1s in a calendar year since the Jackson 5. However, I think that George Michael had four No. 1s back in 1998. "Faith" hit No. 1 in the middle of December 1987 but remained there for the first two weeks of 1998. "Father Figure," "One More Try" and "Monkey" all followed.

Peter Duffy
Islamabad, Pakistan

Dear Juan and Peter,

This is why I am always careful about the language I use when discussing No. 1 songs. The keyword was "advanced." I was talking about songs that moved to No. 1 during a calendar year. Since songs belong to the year in which they peak, I think it's clearer to just consider songs that move to No. 1 in a calendar year, and that's how I consistently write about chart achievements.

What you say about George Michael is true as long as you don't use the phrase "advanced to No. 1 in a calendar year."



CAN'T STOP LOVING RAY

Fred,

After Dobie Gray broke the record for longest gap between top 10 appearances on the Hot 100 with "Drift Away" (he was featured on Uncle Kracker's reworking), now Ray Charles has done the same on the album chart.

Charles posthumous "Genius Loves Company" (Hear/Concord), on which Ray duets with stars like Norah Jones, Elton John and Johnny Mathis, entered the top 10 more than 40 years and 38 days after his last appearance in the top 10 on the album chart.

The previous record holder also made his comeback with a duets album: Frank Sinatra's "Duets" reached the top 10 25 years after his last top 10 album.

Here's a top 10 of the artists who had the longest breaks between Top 10 appearances on the albums chart (since 1955):

1. Ray Charles: 40 years, 38 days
2. Frank Sinatra: 25 years, 277 days
3. Elvis Presley: 24 years, 236 days
4. Barry Manilow: 21 years, 330 days
5. The Isley Brothers: 20 years, 352 days
6. Led Zeppelin: 20 years, 79 days
7. The Doors: 19 years, 94 days
8. Steely Dan: 18 years, 228 days
9. Bob Dylan: 17 years, 236 days
10. Santana: 17 years, 229 days

After Elvis Presley, Ray Charles now has the longest span of top 10 album hits, just twi weeks shy of 44 years. "Genius Hits the Road," which enjoyed one week in the top 10 at No. 9 in November 1960, was his first.

Here's a top 10 of the artists with the longest span of top 10 album hits (since 1955):

1. Elvis Presley (first top 10 hit in 1956, last in 2004): 47 years, 45 weeks
2. Ray Charles (1960-2004): 43 years, 8 weeks
3. Barbra Streisand (1963-2004): 40 years, 25 weeks
4. Frank Sinatra (1955-1995): 40 years, 30 weeks
5. The Beatles (1964-2004): 40 years, 29 weeks
6. The Rolling Stones (1964-2003): 38 years, 35 weeks
7. Bob Dylan (1965-2002): 36 years, 14 weeks
8. Led Zeppelin (1969-2003): 34 years, 11 weeks
9. Santana (1969-2003): 34 years, 9 weeks
10. Rod Stewart (1971-2004): 33 years, 10 weeks

Best regards,

Han Boogaardt
Amsterdam
hanboo@xs4all.nl

Dear Han,

Thanks for all of the time and energy you put into your research!



ON THE AVERAGE

Fred,

It was 30 years ago this month that the debut album from Scotland's Average White Band made its debut on The Billboard 200. The album, simply called "AWB," went to No. 1 and became a million-seller.

Last night I had the opportunity to see AWB at an outdoor concert in Norwalk, Conn. They were fantastic. They had the crowd on its feet. One of the group members said that the band just released a greatest hits album. Do you happen to know if the CD is in the stores at this time?

Scott Burton
Bridgeport, Conn.
Authorityman@aol.com

Dear Scott,

There was a greatest hits collection by Average White Band, released in 1992 by Rhino. That CD contains original versions of the group's hits. The new collection covers the years 1988-2003 and includes live and/or newly recorded material. You can purchase the new CD directly from the AWB's official Web site.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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