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Rush’s Biggest Billboard Chart Hits, ‘Tom Sawyer’ & Beyond

The band, whose drummer Neil Peart died Tuesday, scored five Mainstream Rock Songs No. 1s.

When Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock Songs airplay chart first published in March 1981, Canadian rockers Rush were already well into a career that had included a pair of top 10 albums on the Billboard 200, including the No. 3-peaking Moving Pictures earlier that month.

As such, the rock trio, whose drummer and lyricist Neil Peart died Tuesday after a battle with brain cancer, was a shoo-in for early Mainstream Rock Songs success, and it wasted no time in furthering its profile. The chart’s first week (dated March 21, 1981) saw Rush appear twice in the top 10, the only act to do so that frame, with “Limelight” at No. 7 and “Tom Sawyer” at No. 10.

That was just the start of an impressive Mainstream Rock Songs run, in which Rush notched 42 entries through 2012, currently tied with Bruce Springsteen, solo and with the E Street Band, for the seventh-most of any act since the survey’s inception; U2 leads with 50 appearances.


Along the way, Rush earned five No. 1s, beginning in the chart’s second year of existence, when “New World Man” reigned for two weeks in October 1982. Seven years later, Rush returned to the top with “Show Don’t Tell,” which was both the final No. 1 of the ’80s (Dec. 30, 1989) and the first No. 1 of the ’90s (Jan. 6, 1990).

The ’90s brought three more leaders for the band: “Dreamline” (four weeks in 1991), “Stick It Out” (four, 1993) and “Test for Echo” (three, 1996).

Rush earned 20 Mainstream Rock top 10s, through “One Little Victory” in 2002.


Rush’s Biggest Mainstream Rock Songs Hits (ranked by peak position)

1, “Stick It Out,” No. 1 (four weeks), Oct. 23, 1993
1, “Dreamline,” No. 1 (four weeks), Sept. 21, 1991
3, “Test for Echo,” No. 1 (three weeks), Oct. 5, 1996
4, “Show Don’t Tell,” No. 1 (two weeks), Dec. 30, 1989
4, “New World Man,” No. 1 (two weeks), Oct. 9, 1982
6, “Cold Fire,” No. 2 (one week), Feb. 12, 1994|
6, “Ghost of a Chance,” No. 2 (one week), Feb. 22, 1992
8, “Time Stand Still,” No. 3 (two weeks), Nov. 7, 1987
9, “Force 10,” No. 3 (one week), Oct. 3, 1987
9, “Distant Early Warning,” No. 3 (one week), May 26, 1984

In addition to its Mainstream Rock Songs fortunes, Rush appeared on the all-genre, multi-metric Billboard Hot 100 seven times, between 1977 (“Fly by Night”/”In the Mood”) and 1986 (“The Big Money”). The group scored one top 40 hit, when “New World Man” rose to No. 21 in October 1982.

On the Billboard 200 albums chart, Rush boasts 12 top 10s, among 35 entries, peaking at a No. 2 best twice: with Counterparts, in November 1993, and its final full-length before Peart’s death, Clockwork Angels, in June 2012.


Peart died at age 67 following a battle with brain cancer, after Rush wrapped its recording and touring career in 2018 due to his health problems.