The Best Selling Songs of 1971 in the UK
1971: The Top 10 Songs of the Year
The UK's Top 10 best selling songs of 1971 certainly made for strange companions, considering the music that was on offer during this particular year.
You probably could not create a list of ten songs as diverse as those that captured the attention of the British record buying public during 1971. Who would have thought that George Harrison, Tony Orlando and Rod Stewart could end up appearing on the same countdown? But, that is exactly what happened.
Note that these songs have not been picked as my favourites of this year, but to show which records sold the most during 1971.
Number 1 : George Harrison
My Sweet Lord: Chart Topper: January 30 - March 5
This song is taken from Harrison's UK Number One hit triple album All Things Must Pass. Session musicians on the track included Eric Clapton.
When released as a single, My Sweet Lord topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. In October 1970, Harrison told the British press that it was going to be his first solo single, but a few days later he changed his mind and said it would not be made available as he did not want sales in that format to detract from those of the album. It was released as a single in the US in November 1970. Within a few weeks, EMI and Apple Records bowed to media and public demand and the UK release followed in January 1971.
Entering the British charts in its first week at Number Seven and then hitting the summit for five weeks, it was the first single by an ex-Beatle to reach Number One. It did so again in the UK when reissued in January 2002 after Harrison's death from cancer.
Number 2 : Rod Stewart
Maggie May: Chart Topper: October 5 - November 9
Maggie May was recorded by Stewart in 1971 for his album Every Picture Tells A Story.
It was initially released in the UK as the B-side of the single Reason to Believe, but DJs became more fond of the B-side and, after two weeks in the chart, the song was flipped with Maggie May as the A-side.
In October 1971, the single went to Number One in the UK, and simultaneously topped the charts in the United States; Every Picture Tells a Story achieved the same feat at the same time -- something achieved by only a handful of performers, notably The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel and Beyonce.
In 2004 Rolling Stone ranked the song #130 on their list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Number 3 : Middle of the Road
Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep: Chart Topper: June 19 - July 17
Written by Lally Stott, Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep was a minor hit in Italy and Australia for the composer, as well as charting on the US Billboard Hot 100 where it peaked at a lowly Number 92. Its failure in achieving significant American sales was mainly due to a cover by Mac and Katie Kissoon, which became the more popular version in the States.
Stott's record company were reluctant to release his recording overseas, so he offered it to Scottish folk-pop group Middle Of The Road, which was working in Italy at the time. This version of the song initially became a massive hit in Europe and then repeated the feat in the UK, as returning holidaymakers searched out a copy.
However, Middle of the Road's recording very nearly flopped in Britain because Mac and Katie Kissoon issued their interpretation just before them, but aided by incessant radio airplay, the Scottish band's disc became the only hit version in the UK.
It reached Number One in the UK for five weeks from mid-June 1971.
The Kissoon version failed to chart in the UK, but reached Number 20 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
Number 4 : Dawn Ft. Tony Orlando
Knock Three Times: Chart Topper: May 11 - June 12
Knock Three Times was released as a single by Dawn in November 1970, paired with their other hit song Candida.
The single hit Number One in the UK in May 1971. It eventually sold nine million copies worldwide, having also claimed the Number One spot in the US in January.
It was covered by Billy "Crash" Craddock the same year and also became a Number One US Country hit.
Number 5 : T. Rex
Hot Love: Chart Topper: March 20 - April 24
Hot Love was T.Rex's first UK Number One, staying at the top of the British charts for six weeks from March 1971, while it fared less well in the USA where it peaked at Number 72.
It was also the first T.Rex single to feature both a bass guitar and drums. Its success was propelled by a legendary Top of the Pops TV appearance, where frontman Marc Bolan appeared in androgynous clothes and covered in glitter, thus inventing the style that came to be known as Glam Rock.
Number 6 : The Mixtures
The Pushbike Song
Written by brothers Idris and Evan Jones, The Pushbike Song was released in 1970 and reached the top spot for two weeks in the Australian charts in March 1971.
It also proved popular in the UK too, reaching the Number 2 position for four straight weeks, beginning during February. The song was beaten to Number One by George Harrison's My Sweet Lord.
Number 7 : The New Seekers
Never Ending Song Of Love: UK No.2 Single: August 1971
Originally recorded by US group Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, Never Ending Song of Love was picked up in the UK by The New Seekers, who turned the song into a more pop friendly recording.
The single peaked at Number 2, where it stayed for five consecutive weeks during August and September, 1971.
Number 8 : Diana Ross
I'm Still Waiting: Chart Topper: August 21 - September 18
I'm Still Waiting first appeared on Ross's 1971 album Everything Is Everything.
The record was a minor success in the US, reaching Number 63 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. However, on the UK listing it reached Number 1 for four weeks in August 1971, prompting a British re-title of Diana's album Surrender to I'm Still Waiting.
Although initially intended only as an album track, BBC Radio 1 disc jockey Tony Blackburn featured it heavily on his morning show and then persuaded EMI, which issued all Tamla Motown material in the UK at that time, to release it as a single.
Number 9 : T. Rex
Get It On: Chart Topper: July 24 - August 14
The Number 9 bestselling song of the year was T.Rex's Get It On, which was the second UK Number One song of 1971 for the British Glam Rock group.
While it only spent four weeks at the top of the charts in the UK, nevertheless it was the group's biggest hit overall, selling nearly a million copies in Britain alone.
It also entered the US Billboard Hot 100 under the title Bang A Gong (Get It On), peaking at Number 10 in January 1972, becoming the band's only major US hit.
Number 10 : The Tams
Hey Girl, Don't Bother Me: Chart Topper: September 18 - October 2
The Number 10 song was a re-release of The Tams' 1964 recording of Hey Girl, Don't Bother Me, which was originally a minor hit on the US Billboard Hot 100, reaching Number 41.
The record would have then lapsed into obscurity had it not become a favourite on the Northern Soul scene in the UK, belatedly reaching Number One on the UK Singles Chart for three weeks in September 1971.
The 1971 Music Poll
Which is your favourite hit of 1971 listed here?
Meanwhile, in the United States...
1. Three Dog Night
Joy to the World
2. Rod Stewart
3. Carole King
It's Too Late/I Feel the Earth Move
4. The Osmonds
One Bad Apple
5. The Bee Gees
How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?
6. The Raiders
7. Donny Osmond
Go Away Little Girl
8. John Denver
Take Me Home, Country Roads
9. The Temptations
Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)
Knock Three Times
Major Grammy Winners of 1971
- Record of the Year
- Lou Adler (producer) & Carole King for It's Too Late
- Album of the Year
- Lou Adler (producer) & Carole King for Tapestry
- Song of the Year
- Carole King (songwriter) for You've Got a Friend
- Best New Artist
- Carly Simon
About Your Author
With each article, Richard invites you to step into his world of music, television and entertainment. He will introduce you to British Glam Rock, share The 20 Scariest Film Scores Ever? and even give you an up close look at some classic actors such as Christopher Lee as Dracula.
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© 2007 Richard