1. Music

George Strait leads group with most No. 1 hits

Getty Images
Getty Images
Published May 21, 2013

All hail King George!

Last week, country stalwart George Strait set a new milestone: 60 songs certified by Billboard as No. 1 hits. The single, Give It All We Got Tonight, is a dreamy ballad from Strait's new album, Love Is Everything. Debuting in October 2012, the song was successfully promoted by the 60 for 60 Movement, a campaign by Strait's record label and fans to help him accomplish the feat before his 61st birthday, which was last week.

It's not surprising that Strait, right, would be the man to set the record. Country music is a notoriously insular genre; it usually runs independent of the rest of the music industry, nurturing its brightest stars and tending to its dedicated fanbase. Many artists have ridden Nashville's highway to fame and glory this way: Willie Nelson, Alan Jackson, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks.

None, though, is so skilled in the craft of producing hits as Texas' Strait. Unlike many artists, his style has remained the same since his first album, Strait Country, was released in 1981. At that point, country, under the influence of disco, pop, and 1980's Urban Cowboy, was becoming less and less like the Western, folksy ballads and anthems of its past.

Strait County pulled the genre back to its roots; Strait's style was more somber and more traditional than, say, Dolly Parton's 9 to 5. More importantly, he was able to keep the roots of the music he loved without sacrificing the integrity of his voice and style — he wasn't copying older acts, but continuing their legacy.

After the news of Strait's major accomplishment, we were curious to see who else has put up big No. 1 numbers. Not surprisingly, seven of the biggest hitmakers are country artists. And hey, if you count the King as sorta-country, too, that number becomes eight.

Artists With the Most No. 1 Hits

60: George Strait (I Cross My Heart, 1992; Check Yes or No, 1996)

55: Madonna (Like a Virgin, 1984; Vogue, 1990)

55: Conway Twitty (Hello Darlin, 1970; Don't Call Him a Cowboy, 1985)

43: Michael Jackson (Billie Jean, 1983; Dirty Diana, 1988)

41: Elvis Presley (Hound Dog, 1956; Are You Lonesome Tonight?, 1960)

40: Ronnie Milsap (My Heart, 1980; Lost in the 50's Tonight, 1985)

39: Charley Pride (All I Have to Offer You Is Me, 1969; Kiss an Angel Good Mornin', 1971)

38: Merle Haggard (Okie from Muskogee, 1969; I'm a Lonesome Fugitive, 1966)

37: Dolly Parton (9 to 5, 1980; Heartbreaker, 1978)

36: The Beatles (I Want to Hold Your Hand, 1964)

36: Reba McEntire (Consider Me Gone, 2009)

Alec Carver and Andy Fullerton are serving their senior internship for Tampa Preparatory School.


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