Andy Williams will be remembered as a “middle-of-the-road” singer, a term that we now call “Adult Contemporary,” but that may not be an accurate way of remembering the crooner who scored 42 hits on The Billboard Hot 100 (and its predecessor, the Best Sellers in Stores chart). Many of his biggest hits were pure pop songs, written by top 40 songwriters like Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, and Kal Mann and Bernie Lowe.
Ironically, Williams’ signature song, a vocal version of Henry Mancini’s “Moon River” from the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” never even charted on the Hot 100 because it wasn’t released as a single. He did perform the song at the 1962 Academy Awards, where it won the Oscar for Best Song. Williams’ label, Columbia, made sure stores were stocked with his album Moon River & Other Great Movie Themes the day after 80 million viewers watched the Oscarcast and the LP entered the Billboard album chart the week of May 12, 1962 and peaked at No. 3. The song became Williams’ theme on his weekly variety series and later inspired the name of his theater in Branson, Mo.
Williams’ first appearance on a Billboard chart was uncredited. Along with his three siblings in a group known as the Williams Brothers, he provided backing vocals on Bing Crosby’s recording of “Swinging on a Star,” which topped the Billboard singles chart in 1944 for nine weeks.
As a solo artist, Williams was signed to Archie Bleyer’s Cadence Records, home to the Everly Brothers and the Chordettes. Williams charted in 1956, first with a single called “Walk Hand in Hand” that only made it to No. 54 on a chart called the Top 100, and then he earned his first hit on the Best Sellers chart with a vocal version of “Canadian Sunset,” which cracked the top 10 at No. 7.
A year later, Williams had an even bigger hit with a cover of Charlie Gracie’s Elvis-tinged “Butterfly,” written by Mann and Lowe. The single peaked at No. 4 on the Best Sellers chart but went to No. 1 on the Top 100 and an airplay chart. In the U.K., “Butterfly” was Williams’ first charted hit and his only No. 1. In the U.S., there were two more top 10 hits in these pre-Hot 100 days: “I Like Your Kind of Love,” a duet with Peggy Powers and “Are You Sincere.”
Just one month after the Hot 100 was introduced, Williams was back in the top 10 with another of his pop singles, “Lonely Street.” The follow-up, “The Village of St. Bernadette,” also reached the top 10.
In 1961 Williams signed with Columbia Records and continued to chart on the label until 1976.
His biggest hit single might have been an accident. In 1963, Columbia released a 45 of “Days of Wine and Roses,” another Academy Award winner (written by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini for the film of the same name) that Williams performed on the Oscars. The single peaked at No. 26 on the Hot 100, but the flip side proved to more popular with DJs. It was written by the team of Pomus and Shuman, the same tunesmiths who had penned hits for Elvis Presley, the Drifters and Dion & the Belmonts. “Can’t Get Used to Losing You” spent four weeks at No. 2 on the Hot 100, unable to surpass the Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine” and Little Peggy March’s “I Will Follow Him.”
Williams only had one more top 10 hit on the Hot 100. There were many competing versions of Francis Lai’s “Where Do I Begin (Love Story)” from the film starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw, but Williams had the most successful recording. The single peaked at No. 9 in 1971.
While he never achieved pole position on the Hot 100, Williams had four No. 1s on the Adult Contemporary chart: “Can’t Get Used to Losing You” (four weeks), “In the Arms of Love” (two weeks), “Happy Heart” (two weeks) and his “Love Story” cover (four weeks). On the Billboard album chart, Williams’ most successful title was Days of Wine and Roses, which led the list for 16 weeks, beginning in May 1963. His final week at No. 1 was the first week that Billboard combined the separate Mono and Stereo Albums charts into one unified tally.
ANDY WILLIAMS’ TOP 20 HITS ON THE HOT 100
Below is a list of Andy Williams’ top 20 Hot 100 hits, based on chart performance. The ranking is based on actual performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 chart. Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at No. 100 earning the least. To ensure equitable representation of the biggest hits from each era, certain time frames were weighted to account for the difference between turnover rates from those years.
POSITION-TITLE-PEAK ON HOT 100-YEAR
01 Can’t Get Used to Losing You, No. 2 (1963)
02 Lonely Street, No. 5 (1959)
03 The Hawaiian Wedding Song, No. 11 (1959)
04 The Village of St. Bernadette, No. 7 (1960)
05 (Where Do I Begin) Love Story, No. 9 (1971)
06 Hopeless, No. 13 (1963)
07 A Fool Never Learns, No. 13 (1964)
08 Happy Heart, No. 22 (1969)
09 Promise Me, Love, No. 17 (1958)
10 Dear Heart, No. 24 (1965)
11 Days of Wine and Roses, No. 26 (1963)
12 Battle Hymn of the Republic, No. 33 (1968)
13 On the Street Where You Live, No. 28 (1964)
14 Love Theme from ‘The Godfather’ (Speak Softly Love), No. 34 (1972)
15 Wrong for Each Other, No. 34 (1964)
16 The Bilbao Song, No. 37 (1961)
17 Music to Watch Girls By, No. 34 (1967)
18 Don’t You Believe It, No. 39 (1962)
19 ……And Roses and Roses, No. 35 (1966)
20 Ain’t It True, No. 40, 1965