Only 5 Albums Were Number One in 1977

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This story isn’t about Debby Boone’s single. We promise

If you were to look at the list of singles that reached #1 in the U.S. in 1977, you’d notice a lot of softer sounds that topped the charts. Think Andy Gibb’s “I Just Want to Be Your Everything” which dominated the late summer for five weeks. And Mary MacGregor’s “Torn Between Two Lovers,” #1 for four weeks earlier in the year. Leo Sayer had a pair of #1s, “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” and “When I Need You.” None, though, would dominate the singles chart in ’77 like Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life,” which took the top spot on Oct. 15 and remained there through the remainder of the year.

In an unusual circumstance, only five albums reached #1 that year, according to the Record World sales charts. And one so thoroughly dominated sales, that it remains the sixth biggest album of all-time in the States.

Blocked from the top were such top-selling releases as Boston’s 1976 debut, Linda Ronstadt’s Simple Dreams, Steely Dan’s Aja and the Rocky original motion picture score.

Here’s a recap of 1977’s chart topping albums in the U.S.; listings are in reverse order, saving the longest-running title for the end. [Note: A few titles that didn’t reach #1 on Record World, hit the top on its rival, Billboard.]

Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life (1 week)

The star’s double LP closed 1976 with 10 straight weeks at the top, and began the new year with one more. Two of the songs were #1 hits, “I Wish” and the snappy “Sir Duke.” The album earned the Wonder-man his third Grammy Award for Album of the Year in a four-year span, an unprecedented achievement.

Barry Manilow Live (1)

The hitmaker was in the midst of a stretch of five consecutive Top 10 studio albums. His singles were Top 40 favorites, earning the singer-songwriter three #1s in that same span. This live collection was recorded in New York City. The May release reached #1 on July 2.

A Star is Born (Original Soundtrack) (7)

The musical remake of the 1937 drama was an enormous success in every regard. The December 1976 film became the year’s third biggest and the soundtrack – featuring its stars, Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson – released one month earlier, was also helped by the #1 single, “Evergreen.” The LP reached #1 on Feb. 5, remaining there through March 19.

Eagles – Hotel California (11)

Amazingly, just one song was ready when the band entered the studio with producer Bill Szymczyk in early 1976. The album was released on Dec. 8, 1976 and first hit the top on Jan. 8. Its reign was interrupted after four weeks, but it regained the #1 spot for seven more, beginning on April 9. (It’s since become the third best-selling U.S. album in history, certified 26-times Platinum in 2018 by the RIAA.) The LP won two Grammy Awards for “New Kid in Town” and “Hotel California.”

Watch them perform “Hotel California” in 1977

Related: Our exclusive interview on the making-of the album

Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (32)

Talk about persistence; theirs is the textbook tale of the value of stick-to-itiveness. For nearly a decade, Fleetwood Mac had been slogging it out as a respected but commercially lackluster British blues band. Their musicianship had always been superb. Still, they remained kind of anonymous in the eyes of the rock-consuming public.

An ad for the album ran on the back cover of the February 12, 1977 issue of Record World

When guitarist/vocalist Bob Welch left the band in late ’74, Mick Fleetwood asked guitarist-singer-songwriter Lindsey Buckingham to join the band. He agreed, but only if his girlfriend, vocalist Stevie Nicks, could also join. It was the savviest personnel change the band ever made. The revitalized group’s self-titled 1975 album was a big success.

On Feb. 4, 1977, they released their next studio album, their eleventh in all. Record buyers related to the intimate songs, several of which were inspired by the band’s own romantic entanglements and disentanglements.

Rumours reached #1 on Record World on March 26, but was bumped from the top spot two weeks later by the soaring Eagles album. On May 28, Mac returned to #1 for five weeks. After one week at #2, it reclaimed the #1 spot on July 9 where, thanks to four Top 10 singles, it remained for the rest of 1977.

Albums, from two of rock’s biggest names, thus accounted for 43 of the year’s 52 weeks.

Related: 1977 – The year in 50 classic rock albums

Best Classic Bands Staff

3 Comments so far

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  1. davhop63
    #1 davhop63 21 October, 2021, 06:47

    Linda Ronstadt’s-Simple Dreams went to #1 on Billboard and spent 5 weeks there. It knocked Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours off the top for a 31 week stay.

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  2. kevmac63
    #2 kevmac63 5 June, 2024, 13:05

    Didn’t ‘Wings Over America” hit number 1 in ’77?

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    • Greg Brodsky
      Greg Brodsky 5 June, 2024, 13:16

      Wings Over America reached #1 in Billboard in January; but, as noted in the article, this story is based on the Record World charts for the year.

      Reply this comment

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