I noticed that each member of the Beatles had achieved number one records in their post-Beatles careers including Ringo. I wondered how many total number ones did the Fab Four have compared to the Beatles so I did some research on www.billboard.com.
I think it would be an interesting trivia question to ask. Who had more number one hits? The Beatles or the combined total of the fab four after the Beatles.
The Beatles had a record 20 number ones from 1964 to 1970. The fab four had a total of 16! So, not surprisingly, the Beatles win this showdown but not by as much as some would think.
Interesting to note how the Beatles racked up 10 number ones in their first two years on the US charts in 1964 and 1965 and then 10 more over the course of the next 5 years.
The last number one for the Beatles happened on 6/13/1970 with “The Long and Winding Road” appropriately enough. The first member to reach number one after the Beatles turned out to be George Harrison on December 26, 1970 with “My Sweet Lord”. It turns out that George is also the last Beatle to reach number one with his 1988 hit, “I Got My Mind Set On You”.
It’s clear that Paul McCartney had the most successful career after the Beatles broke up with an amazing 9 number ones and 23 top 10 hits. The Beatles had 20 number ones and 34 top 10 hits.
Behind Paul’s 9 chart-toppers, George Harrison had 3, John Lennon and Ringo Starr each had two number ones.
As for top 10 hits, after Paul’s astonishing 23, John had 8, Ringo 7 and George only 5 (but 3 reached the top and another reached #2).
The final totals were:
Number ones: Beatles 20, Fab Four 16.
Top 10s: Fab Four 43, The Beatles 34.
What does all this prove? Well, for me anyway, it shows that even though the Beatles broke up in 1970, they actually continued to provide the world with wonderful music for many more years. I would say until 1983 when Paul had his last number one (Say Say Say with Michael Jackson) even though George did have his surprise final number one in 1988.
Even though the Beatles broke up officially in 1970, they still managed to hit the charts a couple of times in later decades thanks to reissues. For example, they hit the top 10 in 1976 with “Got to Get You Into My Life” and then 20 years later with “Free as a Bird”.
Here are all the number one and top 10 hits for the Beatles from 1964-1996. Number ones are highlighted in green, top 10s are yellow.
Here are all of the number ones and top 10 hits for all four members of the Beatles. Notice how John Lennon actually charted on his own in early 1970 before the band broke up. He hit number 3 with “Instant Karma”. George was the first member to reach the summit outside the band with “My Sweet Lord” in late 1970.
1971 was a special year because it was the only year that all four members had a top 10 hit in the same year.
In 1973 ad 1974, three of the four members actually hit number one in the same year! Paul, George and Ringo in 1973 and Paul, John and Ringo in 1974.
Paul went 29 years between top 10 hits from “Spies Like Us” in 1986 to “FourFiveSeconds” in 2015 with Kanye West and Rihanna.
Last Number Ones
George has the last number one with “Got My Mind Set on You” in 1988. The last number one for Paul was in 1983 with “Say Say Say”, the last number one for Ringo was “You’re Sixteen” in 1974 and the last number one for John was “Starting Over” in 1980.
- George 1988 “Got My Mind Set On You”
- Paul 1983 “Say Say Say” with Michael Jackson
- John 1980 “(Just Like) Starting Over”
- Ringo 1974 “You’re Sixteen”
- The Beatles 1970 “The Long and Winding Road”
Last Top 10 Hits
Paul has the last top 10 hit for any of the Beatles with 2015’s “FourFiveSeconds” with Kanye and Rihanna. The last top 10 hit for George was his number one “Got My Mind Set on You” in 1988. The last top 10 for John was in 1984 with “Nobody Told Me” which was released posthumously. The last top 10 for Ringo was in 1975 with “No No Song”. The last top 10 for the Beatles came in 1996 with “Free as a Bird” which hit #6.
- Paul 2015, “FourFiveSeconds” with Kanye & Rihanna (#4)
- The Beatles 1996, “Free as a Bird” (#6)
- George 1988, “Got My Mind Set On You” (#1)
- John 1984, “Nobody Told me” (#5)
- Ringo 1975, “No No Song” (#3)
Note: I have to acknowledge that John Lennon would’ve had many more number ones and top 10 hits if he were not struck down tragically in 1980. People forget that he basically retired for 5 years before returning with his Double Fantasy album in 1980.