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Is Black Sabbath’s ’13’ The 1,000th No. 1 Album?

We break down the not-so-black-and-white past of Billboard's album chart history.

To celebrate or not to celebrate? That is the question. And, there’s no simple answer.

Depending on how and what you count, Black Sabbath’s No. 1 Billboard 200 album “13,” which debuted atop the tally last week, could be considered the 1,000th leader in album chart history.

Or not.

Let us explain.

Billboard has been charting the week’s top-selling albums each week since March 24, 1956 (beginning with Harry Belafonte’s “Belafonte”). However, the first overall album chart actually appeared 11 years earlier, on March 24, 1945. The chart was published on an irregular basis until it became a weekly fixture.

For our historical purposes, all feats and records for the Billboard 200 (e.g., the Beatles’ record 19 No. 1s) date to March 24, 1956, when the tally became a weekly feature.


From March 24, 1956 forward (through Black Sabbath’s “13”), 927 albums have hit No. 1. However, if one were to add up all the No. 1 albums from March 24, 1945 (beginning with the King Cole Trio’s self-titled release), through “13,” the total becomes a landmark 1,000 No. 1s.


Among those 1,000 No. 1s are seven separate runs at No. 1 for Bing Crosby’s “Merry Christmas.” The set topped the chart around Christmastime in 1945, ’46, ’47, ’48, ’49, ’50 and ’57. Some chart historians, including Joel Whitburn of Record Research, view those runs as separate and count them as unique No. 1 albums (even though every time “Merry” made its way to No. 1, it was essentially a reissue of the same album).

Thus, if one were to add the six “extra” runs at No. 1 for “Merry” to our No. 1 count, we’d stand at 1,006 No. 1s.

Not quite a party-worthy 1,000.

Let’s make it simple:

As we view March 24, 1956, as the start date of the Billboard 200’s historical record, how about we all just come back in a couple years or so when we can celebrate the official 1,000th No. 1 (just 73 more to go …) in the Billboard 200’s rich history (from March 24, 1956 on).

(Maybe it’ll be North West’s debut set?)

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