Chart Beat

'It's My Life' & More: Mark Hollis & Talk Talk's Billboard Chart History

Talk Talk
Michael Putland/Getty Images

Simon Brenner, Mark Hollis, Lee Harris and Paul Webb of Talk Talk photographed in 1982.

The band tallied multiple entries in the '80s, while No Doubt's 'It's My Life' cover followed in 2003.

Talk Talk was strong out of the gate on the Billboard charts. After forming in 1981, the three-piece British rockers' eponymous single reached Billboard's Dance Club Songs survey in June 1982 and Mainstream Rock Songs that September.

The band, fronted by singer and guitarist Mark Hollis, whose death at the age of 64 was reported Monday (Feb. 25), confined its chart history to just under a four-year span in the mid-1980s, even though the act's career continued into the early '90s until its 1991 split. Still, Talk Talk remains a much-cited influence, particularly in the post-rock vein.

And while its chart action ceased after the '80s, that's not where the Talk Talk story ends, thanks to a certain ska punk band from Anaheim, California.

"Talk Talk" came first, peaking at No. 63 on Dance Club Songs (June 12, 1982) and No. 26 on Mainstream Rock Songs (Sept. 18), paving the way for the track's seven-week rendezvous with the Billboard Hot 100, where it hit No. 75 (Nov. 6). Its corresponding album, Talk Talk's debut LP When the Party's Over, reached No. 132 on the Billboard 200 that November. (Billboard's Alternative Songs chart, a natural fit for the band's sound from the start, did not begin until 1988.)

Follow-up album It's My Life produced what stands as Talk Talk's top-performing single on Billboard's charts: its title track. Among its accolades are Talk Talk's only No. 1 on a ranking, as it led Dance Club Songs on May 5, 1984. It also hit No. 23 on Mainstream Rock Songs. That support helped spark the song's No. 31 peak on the Hot 100, marking Talk Talk's only top 40 hit. The album reached No. 42 on the Billboard 200, the band's best showing.

The set's second single, "Such a Shame," hit No. 12 on Dance Club Songs and No. 89 on the Hot 100 in summer 1984.

Which brings us to Talk Talk's final appearances to date on song and album charts. "Life's What You Make It," the lead single from the band's third LP, The Colour of Spring, appeared at the rockers' usual chart haunts in 1986, reaching No. 22 on Dance Club Songs, No. 26 on Mainstream Rock Songs and No. 90 on the Hot 100. The album hit No. 58 on the Billboard 200.

Talk Talk released two more albums, 1988's Spirit of Eden and 1991's Laughing Stock, that were minor successes in the group's native England but failed to chart in the U.S. Following the band's breakup, Hollis released a self-titled solo album in 1998. While the set missed Billboard's charts, he played a small role on Unkle's Heatseekers Albums-topping LP Psyence Fiction the same year, as he added piano and a co-writing credit to the song "Chaos."

In 2003, "It's My Life" returned to prominence thanks to a cover by No Doubt, from the latter's The Singles 1992-2003 greatest hits package. Released following No Doubt's commercially successful Rock Steady era (and during a hiatus for the band as singer Gwen Stefani pursued a solo career), the song was a runaway success, reaching No. 10 on the Hot 100 in January 2004. It also hit No. 3 on Adult Pop Songs, No. 5 on Pop Songs and No. 32 on Alternative Songs.

Hollis' death was reported Feb. 25, although an official date of death has not yet been confirmed. Hollis' former manager, Keith Aspden, confirmed to the BBC that Hollis died "after a short illness from which he never recovered."