Chart-based stories on Kenny Gamble, Faith Hill, and Herbert Groenemeyer.

TAKING A GAMBLE: Kenny Gamble had his first songwriting credit on Billboard's Hot 100 the week of Nov. 21, 1964, when a soulful slice of Philadelphia pop called "The 81" by Candy & the Kisses debuted at No. 97. His songwriting career span is now stretched to 37 years and nine months, as his name can be found sitting underneath the chart's current No. 1 song, "Dilemma" (Fo' Reel/Universal) by Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland.

"Dilemma" samples a Patti LaBelle song called "Love, Need and Want You," found on her 1984 LP "I'm in Love Again," released on Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff's Philadelphia International Records label. While Gamble wrote most of his hits with Huff, "Love, Need and Want You" was written with another Philadelphian, Bunny Sigler. As an artist, Sigler's biggest success on the Hot 100 was a remake of Shirley & Lee's "Let the Good Times Roll & Feel So Good" in 1967.

Gamble's first No. 1 hit on the Hot 100 was Billy Paul's "Me and Mrs. Jones," which had a three-week reign in December 1972. Two more chart-toppers followed: the O'Jays' "Love Train" reached pole position in March 1973 and MFSB's "TSOP" topped the chart in April 1974. Two remakes of Gamble songs originally recorded by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes also went to No. 1: in 1977, Thelma Houston reworked "Don't Leave Me This Way," and in 1989 the U.K.'s Simply Red updated "If You Don't Know Me By Now."

"Dilemma" is thus Gamble's sixth No. 1 songwriting credit on the Hot 100. His span of chart-toppers is expanded to 29 years, eight years, and one week. That's good enough for fourth place among songwriters with the longest spans of No. 1 hits. The top three are:

- Bob Crewe: 38 years, six months, and two weeks from "Big Girls Don't Cry" by the Four Seasons in November 1962 to "Lady Marmalade" by Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya & Pink in June 2001.

- Chip Taylor: 34 years, eight months from "Wild Thing" by the Troggs in July 1966 to "Angel" by Shaggy featuring Rayvon in March 2001.

- Luigi Creatore, Hugo Peretti, and George David Weiss: 31 years, eight months, and three weeks from "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by the Tokens in December 1961 to "Can't Help Falling in Love" by UB40 in July 1993.

YOU'LL FEEL BETTER IF YOU 'CRY': Almost nine years after she made her first appearance on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks, Faith Hill has the highest-debuting song of her career. Her 27th chart entry, a remake of Angie Aparo's "Cry" (Warner Bros.), earns Hot Shot Debut honors by opening at No. 32. That tops the No. 35 entries of "It's Your Love," a duet with husband Tim McGraw, in May 1997, and "The Star Spangled Banner" in September 2001.

Hill's biggest hits to date are "It's Your Love" and "Breathe." Both topped the country tally for six weeks. Her first chart entry was "Wild One," which debuted the week of Oct. 16, 1993 and went on to spend four weeks at No. 1.

SUCH A 'MENSCH': Jochen Tierbach's friends have been wondering why I refer to him as an expert on the Swiss charts, when he actually knows the German charts equally well. The pan-European chart expert writes in this week with news from the current singles chart in Germany. One of that country's most successful German-language artists, Herbert Groenemeyer, has his first No. 1 single, some 18 years after making his chart debut. Until now, Groenemeyer's highest-ranking single was "Was Soll Das?" (which roughly translates as "What's Up?"). It spent three weeks at No. 3 in 1988.

"Mensch" ("Human Being") may be Groenemeyer's first No. 1 single, but he's no stranger to pole position on the German album chart. He's had six chart-topping albums to date, and his forthcoming album, titled after the single "Mensch," is expected to be his seventh.

As for the "Mensch" single, it's the 20th single to debut at No. 1 on the German chart, dating back to the introduction of the weekly chart in 1971. "Mensch" replaces Eminem's "Without Me" after a nine-week reign.

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