Chart Watch Extra: The Monkees’ Amazing Record

Paul Grein
Chart Watch (NEW)

Davy Jones' death on Wednesday has put a spotlight on The Monkees, the group that was created to bring the spirit of the Beatles' 1964 movie A Hard Day's Night to network television. No one could have foreseen the success the Monkees would achieve. In 1967, the group became the only first and act in the history of the Billboard album chart (which dates back to 1945) to put four albums at #1 in a calendar year. Even the Beatles never did this.

The group's debut album, The Monkees was #1 for the first five weeks of the year (it had also been #1 for the last eight weeks of 1966). It was followed in the top spot by More Of The Monkees, which remained at #1 for 18 weeks (giving the group a remarkable 31-week lock on the top spot). After a solitary week in which the group was not #1, it returned to the top spot in June with its third album, Headquarters. That album had just one week on top (it spent the next 11 weeks mired at #2 behind the Beatles' blockbuster, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band). The Monkees spent the last five weeks of 1967 back in the top spot with its fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.

The Monkees also had two #1 singles in 1967, "I'm A Believer" and "Daydream Believer." At the beginning of the year, the group received two Grammy nominations for their first #1 hit, 1966's "Last Train To Clarksville." On June 4, 1967, The Monkees won two Emmys, including Outstanding Comedy Series. (It beat The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched, Get Smart and Hogan's Heroes.)

To celebrate the Monkees, and to mark Jones' passing, here are all the acts that have had three #1 albums in a calendar year, and thus are runners-up to the Monkees. They're listed in reverse chronological order.

Glee Cast. The cast to the Fox series reached #1 in 2010 with Volume 3: Showstoppers and pair of EPs, The Power Of Madonna and Journey To Regionals. In November, the cast's rendition of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" became a top 10 hit on the Hot 100. The series received 20 Emmy nominations that year, including Outstanding Comedy Series. It won four.

Garth Brooks. The country superstar scored in 1998 with the studio album Sevens (a carryover from 1997), the six-CD retrospective The Limited Series and the double-disk live album Double Live. Brooks turned 36 in February 1998. That same month, he won a Grammy for "In Another's Eyes," a collaboration with his future wife, Trisha Yearwood. In October 1998, Brooks was named Entertainer of the Year for a record-setting fourth time by the Country Music Assn. (Kenny Chesney has since equaled this feat.) Brooks is the only country star to have three #1 albums in a calendar year.

Elton John. The pop superstar scored in 1975 with Greatest Hits (a carryover from 1974), Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy and Rock Of The Westies. The latter two albums were the first albums in chart history to enter the chart at #1. John also landed three #1 hits on the Hot 100 that year: "Philadelphia Freedom," "Island Girl" and a cover of the Beatles' "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds." John turned 28 in March 1975. He made the cover of TIME on July 7, 1975. The inevitable cover line: Rock's Captain Fantastic.

Paul McCartney. McCartney topped the chart in 1970 with his debut solo album, McCartney, and with two Beatles albums, Abbey Road (a carryover from 1969) and the Let It Be movie soundtrack. The Beatles also had two #1 singles that year, "Let It Be" and "The Long And Winding Road." McCartney turned 28 in June 1970.

The Beatles. The group scored in 1966 with the studio albums Rubber Soul and Revolver and the compilation "Yesterday"…And Today, which was the first Beatles album to include the group's most famous song. The group had two #1 hits that year: "We Can Work It Out" and "Paperback Writer."

Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. The instrumental ensemble scored in 1966 with three studio albums: Whipped Cream & Other Delights (a carryover from 1965), Going Places and What Now My Love. Alpert turned 31 in March 1966. That same month, he won four Grammys, including Record of the Year for "Taste Of Honey." (1966 was the only year in which two acts each topped the chart with three #1 albums.)

The Beatles. The band scored in 1965 with Beatles '65, Beatles VI and the soundtrack to their second movie, Help! The group had five #1 hits that year: "I Feel Fine" (a carryover from 1964), "Eight Days A Week," "Ticket To Ride," "Help!" and "Yesterday." In April 1965, the Beatles won two Grammys, including Best New Artist.

The Beatles. The Fab Four scored in 1964 with Meet The Beatles!, The Beatles' Second Album and the soundtrack to their first movie, A Hard Day's Night. The Beatles amassed six #1 hits that year: "I Want To Hold Your Hand," "She Loves You," "Can't Buy Me Love," "Love Me Do," "A Hard Day's Night" and "I Feel Fine." The Beatles are the only act to log three #1 albums in three different calendar years.

Elvis Presley. Presley made it in 1961 with a studio album, Something For Everybody, and two movie soundtracks, G.I. Blues (a carryover from 1960) and Blue Hawaii. In March of that year, Presley had a #1 single, "Surrender."

The Kingston Trio. The folk trio scored in 1960 with three studio albums: Here We Go Again! (a carryover from 1959), Sold Out and String Along.

Elvis Presley. Presley scored in 1957 with the studio album Elvis (a carryover from 1956), his first movie soundtrack, Loving You, and his first holiday album, Elvis' Christmas Album. Presley also had four #1 hits that year: "Too Much," "All Shook Up," "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear" and "Jailhouse Rock." Presley, who turned 22 in January 1957, is the youngest solo artist to notch three #1 albums in a calendar year. He is also the only solo artist to achieve the feat in two different calendar years.

Jackie Gleason. Everybody knows that the star of The Honeymooners is a TV legend, but few today are aware that he also had great success with a series of instrumental albums in the Mantovani vein. Gleason's albums consisted of romantic "mood music," which he conducted and much of which he composed. He had three #1 albums in 1954: Music For Lovers Only (a carryover from 1953), Tawny and Music, Martinis, And Memories. Gleason turned 38 in February 1954.

Mario Lanza. The operatic tenor scored in 1951 with a holiday album, Mario Lanza Sings Christmas Songs, and two movie soundtracks, The Toast Of New Orleans and The Great Caruso.  Lanza turned 30 in January 1951. In March, he had a #1 hit with the Oscar-nominated "Be My Love," which he had introduced in The Toast Of New Orleans. Lanza had phenomenal popularity in the 1950s, but died of a heart attack in 1959. He was just 38.