Rewinding the Charts: 44 Years Ago, Creedence Clearwater Revival Topped the Beatles

BB 42 Coda

In 1970, John Fogerty's band reigned as the top album artist in Billboard's first year-end spotlight.

ON DEC. 26, 1970, BILLBOARD published its first dedicated review – dubbed "Talent in Action" – of the previous 12 months' biggest acts, albums and songs. That year, the emergence of Creedence Clearwater Revival as the No. 1 album artist signaled a new era in music had arrived.

The '60s had belonged to the Beatles. But, in the wake of their April 10, 1970 breakup, CCR, from El Cerrito, Calif., and its first-place finish were emblematic of rock's changing of the guard.

The John Fogerty-led band took the title thanks in large part to its longest-running Billboard 200 No. 1 album, Cosmo's Factory, which hit the top spot on Aug. 22 and ruled for nine weeks. Of the set's three 1970 singles, "Lookin' Out My Back Door," and its B side, "Long as I Can See the Light," ranked highest (No. 36) on the year-end Billboard Hot 100.

Although CCR wouldn't last as long as the Beatles – after approximately five years together, the band broke up in 1972 – Fogerty, now 69, continues to record and perform as a solo artist.

Other notable honorees on Billboard's 1970 recap rankings: the Jackson 5 was the top singles act, with four Hot 100 No. 1s; Simon & Garfunkel earned the year's top album, Bridge Over Troubled Water, while its title track was the top Hot 100 single; and Diana Ross reigned as the top female vocalist for singles and albums.

Billboard also looked ahead with the "1971 Trendsetter Awards," singling out acts primed for further success. Among them were the Carpenters (for their "melodic harmonies"), James Taylor (a "peaceful mixture of folk and rock") and Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, who wrote Jesus Christ Superstar, the hit musical that epitomized "the attention rock was paying to religion in 1970."

A version of this article first appeared in the Dec. 20 issue of Billboard magazine.


The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.