John Lennon: The music legend had two No. 1 solo albums before his death (Imagine in 1971 and Walls and Bridges in 1974) and one since (Double Fantasy, a collab with wife Yoko Ono, in 1980). (He was also part of 15 No. 1 albums with The Beatles while he was living and four since he died.) Lennon was shot to death on Dec. 8, 1980. He was 40.
2Pac: The rapper had two No. 1 albums before his death (Me Against the World in 1995 and All Eyez on Me in 1996) and three since (The Don Killuminati—The 7 Day Theory in 1996, Until the End of Time in 2001 and Loyal to the Game in 2005). 2Pac was billed as Makaveli on The Don Killuminati album. 2Pac was shot on Sept. 7, 1996. He died six days later. He was 25.
Elvis Presley: The king of rock and roll had nine No. 1 albums, including four film soundtracks, before his death and one since (the hit-studded compilation Elv1s: 30 #1 Hits in 2002). Presley died following a heart attack on Aug. 16, 1977. He was 42.
Ray Charles: The musician often called the Genius (and it was no hype) had one No. 1 album before his death (Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music in 1962) and one since (the star-studded Genius Loves Company in 2005). He died on June 10, 2004 of complications from liver failure. He was 73.
Johnny Cash: The country legend had one No. 1 album before his death (Johnny Cash at San Quentin in 1969) and one since (American V: A Hundred Highways in 2006, his last in a series of collabs with producer Rick Rubin). Cash died on Sept. 12, 2003 of complications from diabetes. He was 71.
Michael Jackson: The king of pop had five No. 1 albums before his death, including the best-selling studio album of all time, Thriller, and one since (Michael Jackson’s This Is It in 2009). Note: Jackson would have had two posthumous No. 1 albums, with Number Ones also making it, but catalog albums were not eligible to appear on the Billboard 200 in 2009. (The rule changed later that year.) Jackson died on June 25, 2009 of cardiac arrest. He was 50.
Prince: The gifted artist had four No. 1 albums before his death, including two albums he recorded with his band, the Revolution, and one since (The Very Best of Prince in 2016). Prince died on April 21, 2016 of an overdose. He was 57.
XXXTentacion: The rapper had one No. 1 album before his death (? in 2018) and one since (Skins in 2018). XXXTentacion was shot to death on June 18, 2018. He was just 20.
Juice WRLD: The hip-hop artist had one No. 1 album before his death (Death Race for Love in 2019) and one since (Legends Never Die in 2020). Juice WRLD died of a drug-related seizure on Dec. 8, 2019. He was 21.
Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin also qualify if you count group releases. Nirvana had two No. 1 albums before Cobain’s death in 1994 and two after. Joplin hit No. 1 as the leader singer of Big Brother & the Holding Company in 1968, while she was alive, and also posthumously, in 1971, with her solo album Pearl.
Five other artists reached No. 1 posthumously but never did so while they were alive. They were Jim Croce (You Don’t Mess Around with Jim in 1974), Selena (Dreaming of You in 1995), The Notorious B.I.G. (Life After Death in 1997, Born Again in 1999 and Greatest Hits in 2007), Aaliyah (Aaliyah in 2001) and David Bowie (Blackstar in 2016). Bowie’s album was released two days before his death, but only reached No. 1 following his death.
And if you go back to the pre-Billboard 200 era, Glenn Miller had three posthumous No. 1 albums from 1945-54 on an early Billboard album chart. The beloved big-bandleader disappeared on a flight over the English Channel on Dec. 15, 1944. He was 40.