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TOP 15 COUNTRY HITMAKERS 1960-1979
ARTISTS & #1 HITS
ARTISTS & WEEKS AT #1
|Conway Twitty:||28||Sonny James:||57|
|Merle Haggard:||24||Buck Owens:||44|
|Sonny James:||22||Merle Haggard:||43|
|Charley Pride:||22||Charley Pride:||41|
|Buck Owens:||20||Conway Twitty:||37|
|Tammy Wynette:||20||Tammy Wynette:||37|
|Loretta Lynn:||16||Johnny Cash:||33|
|Marty Robbins:||10||Marty Robbins:||30|
|Waylon Jennings:||10||Waylon Jennings:||26|
|Dolly Parton:||10||Bill Anderson:||23|
|Johnny Cash:||8||George Jones:||22|
|George Jones:||8||Loretta Lynn:||21|
|Bill Anderson:||7||Eddy Arnold:||20|
|Eddy Arnold:||7||Jim Reeves:||19|
|Jim Reeves:||6||Dolly Parton:||13|
ARTIST & BILLBOARD RANKINGS
ARTIST & TOP 10 HITS
|George Jones:||7237||Loretta Lynn:||47|
|Buck Owens:||6019||George Jones:||46|
|Johnny Cash:||5833||Buck Owens:||45|
|Merle Haggard:||5353||Merle Haggard:||44|
|Sonny James:||5207||Conway Twitty:||43|
|Loretta Lynn:||5204||Charley Pride:||38|
|Conway Twitty:||4989||Sonny James:||37|
|Bill Anderson:||4866||Tammy Wynette:||35|
|Tammy Wynette:||4253||Bill Anderson:||35|
|Charley Pride:||4107||Marty Robbins:||32|
|Waylon Jennings:||4102||Johnny Cash:||31|
|Dolly Parton:||4100||Waylon Jennings:||30|
|Eddy Arnold:||4033||Dolly Parton:||30|
|Marty Robbins:||4031||Jim Reeves:||29|
|Jim Reeves:||3984||Ray Price:||25|
MOST POPULAR RECORDINGS
All rankings provided by Billboard. Pop/Rock Comparisons are provided to match the time in music history.
MONTAGE VIDEOS CREATED BY & COURTESY OF RICHARD CUSTER
In the early ’60s James re-established his career as one of the most successful recording artists of all time. For nineteen years (1960-1979) his hit recordings were a dominate force in the growth of Country radio.
Country music history verifies his achievements.
SONNY JAMES: MOST POPULAR RECORDINGS
I’LL NEVER FIND ANOTHER YOU
IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS
YOU’RE THE ONLY WORLD I KNOW
BORN TO BE WITH YOU
BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY
HEAVEN SAYS HELLO
DON’T KEEP ME HANGIN’ ON
TAKE GOOD CARE OF HER
HERE COMES HONEY AGAIN
SINCE I MET YOU BABY
A WORLD OF OUR OWN
BEHIND THE TEAR
THAT’S WHY I LOVE YOU LIKE I DO
WHEN THE SNOW IS ON THE ROSES
IT’S JUST A MATTER OF TIME
A LITTLE BIT SOUTH OF SASKATOON
ROOM IN YOUR HEART
THE CAT CAME BACK
ONLY THE LONELY
TRUE LOVE’S A BLESSING
IS IT WRONG
I’LL KEEP HOLDING ON (JUST TO YOUR LOVE)
ONLY LOVE CAN BREAK A HEART
WHITE SILVER SAND
COME ON IN
AMI-ESPOSA CON AMOUR (TO MY WIFE WITH LOVE)
THE MINUTE YOU’RE GONE
LITTLE BAND OF GOLD
WHAT IN THE WORLDS COME OVER YOU
GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS (OF LIVING)
TWENTY FEET OF MUDDY WATER
I LOVE YOU MORE AND MORE EVERYDAY
FIRST DATE, FIRST KISS, FIRST LOVE
WHEN SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH MY BABY
THE PRISONER’S SONG
THAT’S ME WITHOUT YOU
SHE DONE GIVE HER HEART TO ME
YOU’RE FREE TO GO
IN THE JAILHOUSE NOW
THIS IS THE LOVE
LOVE SICK BLUES
YOU’RE THE REASON I’M IN LOVE
TIL THE LAST LEAF SHALL FALL
Became the first country artist (recording division) to be honored with a star in the prestigious Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Joined the world famous Grand Ole Opry.
The honors continued when James would host the first CMA Award Show.
1960’s and 70’s
Named Male Artist of The Decade by Record World.
Inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
MALE GOLDEN VOICE AWARD
-Golden Voice Awards
MASTER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
-The Country Music DJ Hall of Fame and Country Radio Broadcasters, Inc.
August 30, 2006
COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME.
Inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
In 1956 as rock n roll was just beginning, Sonny’s multi-million selling single Young Love exploded on the scene and became a #1 country and pop hit – the first such cross-over of its kind by a country artist.
In 1957 Sonny became the first country recording artist to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show.
In 1961, honoring his contribution to the music industry, Sonny James was the first country music recording artist to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6630 Hollywood Blvd.
In 1967 along with Bobbi Gentry, James hosted the first CMA Awards Show.
In the midst of the American Civil Rights era with his #1 release of Adam Wade’s “Take Good Care of Her” in 1966, Sonny was the first country artist to record and deliver an R&B song into the country music mainstream. During his highly successful run of 16 consecutive #1 hits, beginning in 1969 of the next 7 singles James recorded – 5 had previously been moderately successful releases for soulful R&B artists Ivory Joe Hunter, Brook Benton, Clyde Otis and Jimmy Reed. Those 5 songs were Since I Met You Baby, It’s Just A Matter of Time, Endlessly, Empty Arms and Bright Lights, Big City – all of which reached #1 on the Billboard country charts.
In February 1971, James was the first country artist whose music went into space and he made a special music recording for the crew of Apollo 14. They later presented him with one of the small American flags they had carried to the Moon.
As the producer of Marie Osmond’s first three albums beginning in 1973, the initial single “Paper Roses” upon reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart less than one month after her 14th birthday caused her to become the youngest female and overall youngest solo artist to ever reach this No. 1 chart position. A record that still stands.
THE CAREER OF SONNY JAMES
Born in Hackleburg Alabama on May 1, 1928, Sonny James would be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006. The last leaf was fallen for him upon his passing on February 22, 2016.
With a natural talent for playing stringed instruments it would be at the age of four, when placed at the centerpiece of his family’s country show consisting of his mom and pop Loden, sister Thelma and friend Ruby Palmer, is where he first began to realize his potential to entertain others.
Because he was just a kid he was affectionately called “Sonny Boy” by family and friends, yet by 1952 when he signed with Capitol Records this six-foot three-inch talent was re-billed as The Southern Gentleman, a tag that portrayed his unyielding polite ways.
In 1956 as rock-n-roll was just beginning Sonny’s multi-million selling Young Love exploded on the scene and became a simultaneous #1 country and pop hit – the first such traditional country cross-over of it’s kind.
By 1963 a collaboration at Capitol Studios in Hollywood with Nat King Cole, a fellow Alabama native and favorite of Sonny and his father, would begin to focus Sonny’s musical approach into a more pop-sounding style of country in the hopes of broadening the country listening audience.
Beginning in 1964 with the addition of The Southern Gentlemen made up of bassist Milo Liggett, backing vocalists Lin Bown, Gary Robble, Duane West and Glenn Huggins; a refined musical style was immediately found to be identifiable by listeners. Supported by the Capitol Records team led by Ken Nelson, Sonny began what would become his legendary streak of 16 consecutive #1 releases – an uncontested record which no other solo recording artist has ever surpassed in any genre.
A mere decade later, Sonny James had amassed a surreal 16 #1’s in a row, and 26 #1’s in total culminating in 72 titles on the country charts. From 1966 through 1971 six of his most popular #1 recordings had previously been released by soulful R&B artists Adam Wade, Ivory Joe Hunter, Brooke Benton, Clyde Otis and Jimmy Reed.
Sonny’s broad appeal not only as a performer, but an entertainer, brought him into larger and larger markets and venues as he created new paths for others to follow which had not previously been welcoming to country artists in general, including his numerous appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Always an integral part of his sound and style, his mastery of the guitar as a musician added a depth to his recordings and stage appeal which translated perfectly to television. His full vocal tones backed by his “Southern Gentlemen” created a sound that was awarded time after time with great success.
The first country recording artist to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, his hits “The Minute You’re Gone”, “You’re The Only World I Know”, “It’s Just A Matter Of Time”, “Running Bear”, “Empty Arms” and so many more – make it easy to realize that at the same time the world was beginning to listen to music from the British invasion of the 1960’s, they were hearing Sonny James on country radio.
Immediately following his string of #1’s, Sonny went on to produce the first 3 albums for Marie Osmond, which saw the first single, Paper Roses, surpass sales of 1 million worldwide and Marie was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Throughout his life he has stood always at the ready to share a funny story. Accompanied by his boyish smile, this man of deep faith never failed to cultivate his unique gift of making every friend feel as if they were his greatest friend every step of the way.
Jimmie Hugh Loden (Sonny James) is survived in life by his beloved wife of 58 years Doris Shrode Loden, sister-in-law Sally Ribble, niece Donna and husband “Joe” Mora, nephew Chuck Holcombe, Terry and Pam Holcombe.
Preceded in death by his father Archey Loden, mother Della Loden, and sister Thelma Lee Holcombe.
With immense admiration we say thanks to not only the Southern Gentleman, but a True Gentlemen and beloved friend to so many.