Rob Thomas this week becomes the 26th musician in chart history to reach #1 on The Billboard 200 both as a solo artist and as a member of a group, duo or collective of artists (such as Ruff Ryders and The Firm). Thomas achieves the feat as his group Matchbox Twenty lands its first #1 album with North. Thomas hit #1 on his own in 2005 with his first solo album, …Something To Be.
Three artists have hit #1 on their own and as part of two groups. They are Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and Eminem.
Here's a complete list of the 26 artists who have reached #1 on The Billboard 200 both as a solo artist and as a member of a group, duo or collective of artists.
Nat "King" Cole hit #1 in May 1957 with Love Is The Thing. The album featured his velvety versions of such romantic standards as "Stardust," "When I Fall In Love" and "At Last." Cole had had two #1 albums in 1945 and 1946 with his jazz trio, The King Cole Trio.
Paul McCartney has had seven #1 albums, starting with his first solo album, McCartney, in May 1970. No singles were released from that album (!). "Maybe I'm Amazed," one of McCartney's best solo songs, might well have been a #1. McCartney's tally of seven #1 albums includes five albums with his band, Wings. McCartney also amassed 19 #1 albums with the Beatles, from 1964's Meet The Beatles to 2000's 1.
George Harrison had two #1 albums, starting with All Things Must Pass in January 1971. (Harrison had released a couple of minor instrumental albums before this triple-disk album, but this was his formal solo debut.) The album spawned the #1 smash "My Sweet Lord." Harrison also had 19 #1 albums with the Beatles.
Janis Joplin hit #1 on her own (posthumously) in February 1971 with her second solo album, Pearl. The album spawned her #1 smash "Me And Bobby McGee." She had hit #1 in October 1968 with Big Brother & The Holding Company's second album, Cheap Thrills. She was the first female artist to top the chart on her own and with a group.
John Lennon had three #1 albums, starting with Imagine in October 1971. The title song made the top 10 and became one of the best-loved songs of our time. Lennon also had 19 #1 albums with the Beatles. The last four of them, Anthology 1, 2 and 3 and the greatest hits album 1, were released after his death in 1980.
Neil Young hit #1 in March 1972 with Harvest. The album spawned the #1 hit "Heart Of Gold." Young also amassed three #1 albums with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: 1970's Déjà vu, 1971's 4 Way Street and 1974's So Far.
Diana Ross topped the chart on her own in April 1973 with the Lady Sings The Blues soundtrack. The double-disk album included her versions of such Billie Holiday standards as "Good Morning Heartache." Ross had landed three #1 albums with the Supremes, from 1966's The Supremes A' Go-Go to 1969's TCB (a TV soundtrack they recorded with the Temptations).
Eric Clapton has had three #1 albums on his own, starting with 461 Ocean Boulevard in August 1974. The album included his chart-topping version of Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff." Clapton had landed #1 albums with Cream in 1968 (Wheels On Fire) and Blind Faith in 1969 (Blind Faith).
Paul Simon topped the chart on his own in December 1975 with Still Crazy After All These Years. The album included his #1 smash "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover." Simon had landed three #1 albums as one-half of Simon & Garfunkel, from 1968's The Graduate soundtrack to 1970's Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Bruce Springsteen has amassed eight #1 albums on his own, starting with The River in November 1980. The album included the top five hit, "Hungry Heart." Springsteen also topped the chart in 1986 with Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Live/1975-85, on which he shared artist billing with his band.
Stevie Nicks hit #1 in September 1981 with her first solo album, Bella Donna. The album included her top 10 hits "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" (with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers) and "Leather And Lace" (with Don Henley). Nicks also landed four #1 albums with Fleetwood Mac, from 1976's Fleetwood Mac to 1997's The Dance.
John Fogerty hit #1 in March1985 with Centerfield. The title song has become a ballpark staple. The album also included the top 10 hit "The Old Man Down The Road." Fogerty had notched two #1 albums with Creedence Clearwater Revival: 1969's Green River and 1970's Cosmo's Factory.
George Michael hit #1 in January 1988 with his first solo album, Faith. The album, which won a Grammy as Album of the Year, spawned four #1 hits: "Faith," "Father Figure," "One More Try" and "Monkey." Michael had hit #1 in March 1985 with Wham!'s second album, Make It Big.
Steve Winwood hit #1 in August 1988 with Roll With It. The title track logged four weeks at #1 on the Hot 100. A follow-up, "Don't You Know What The Night Can Do?," also hit the top 10. Winwood had hit #1 in September 1969 with Blind Faith's one and only album, Blind Faith.
Bobby Brown topped the chart in January 1989 with his second solo album, Don't Be Cruel. The album spawned five top 10 hits, including the #1 smash "My Prerogative." Brown also hit #1 in September 2006 with New Edition's reunion album Home Again.
Prince has had two #1 albums on his own, starting with the Batman soundtrack in July 1989. The album spawned the #1 hit "Batdance." He had had two #1 albums with Prince & the Revolution: the Purple Rain soundtrack in 1984 and Around The World In A Day in 1985.
Nas has amassed five #1 albums, starting with his sophomore album It Was Written in July 1996. The album spawned the top 30 hit "Street Dreams." Nas also landed a #1 album with the rap collective, The Firm. Their one and only album, The Firm—the Album, hit #1 in November 1997. Nas was the first hip-hop artist to top the chart on his own and in a group.
DMX hit #1 with his first five albums, starting with It's Dark And Hell Is Hot in June 1998. The album included the top 40 hit "Get At Me Dog" (featuring Sheek of The Lox). DMX also hit #1 in May 1999 with Ruff Ryders' Ruff Ryders—Ryde Or Die Vol. I.
Lauryn Hill hit #1 in September 1998 with her one and only solo studio album, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill. The album, which won a Grammy as Album of the Year, spawned the #1 hit "Doo Wop (That Thing)." Hill had hit #1 in May 1996 with Fugees' sophomore album, The Score.
Foxy Brown hit #1 in February 1999 with her sophomore album, Chyna Doll. The album featured the chart hit "Hot Spot." Brown had had a #1 album with The Firm. The Firm—the Album hit #1 in November 1997.
Eve hit #1 in October 1999 with her first album, Ruff Ryders' First Lady. The album included the top 40 hits "Gotta Man" and "Love Is Blind" (featuring Faith Evans). Eve had hit #1 that May with Ruff Ryders' first album, Ruff Ryders—Ryde Or Die Vol. I.
Eminem has had six #1 albums on his own, starting with his sophomore album The Marshall Mathers LP in June 2000. The album spawned the top 10 hit "The Real Slim Shady." Eminem has also had two #1 albums with D12 from 2001 to 2004 and one with Bad Meets Evil in 2011.
Beyonce hit #1 with her first four studio albums as a solo artist, starting with Dangerously In Love in July 2003. The album spawned the #1 hits "Crazy In Love" (featuring Jay-Z) and "Baby Boy" (featuring Sean Paul). Beyonce also landed two #1 albums with Destiny's Child: 2001's Survivor and 2005's #1's.
Jadakiss hit #1 in July 2004 with his second album, Kiss Of Death. The album spawned the top 30 hits "Why?" (featuring Anthony Hamilton) and "U Make Me Wanna" (featuring Mariah Carey). Jadakiss was also a member of The Lox, which was featured on Ruff Ryders' first album, Ruff Ryders—Ryde Or Die Vol. I. The album hit #1 in May 1999.
Rob Thomas hit #1 in May 2005 with his first solo album, …Something To Be. The album spawned the top 10 hit "Lonely No More." Thomas hits #1 this week with Matchbox Twenty's North.
Justin Timberlake topped the chart in September 2006 with his second solo album, FutureSex/LoveSounds. The album spawned three #1 hits: "SexyBack" (featuring Timbaland), "My Love" (featuring T.I.) and "What Goes Around…Comes Around." Timberlake had had two #1 albums with *NSYNC: 2000's No Strings Attached and 2001's Celebrity.
The Fine Print: I didn't include three solo artists who hit #1 on their own and also in collaborations with other artists. These are Jay-Z, R. Kelly and Kanye West.
Super Fine Print: I also didn't include Benny Goodman, who had two #1 albums in the pre-rock era, one with his sextet, the other with his orchestra, trio and quartet. Those were just different presentations, not a case of moving from group to solo.