Radio Hits of 1973: All Aboard

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We continue our look at the biggest radio hits of the classic rock era with a review of 1973. Some of the big news stories that we were watching: George Foreman shocked the boxing world when he defeated Joe Frazier to win the world heavyweight championship; The Godfather won Best Picture at the 45th Academy Awards; and the World Trade Center officially opened in New York City.

The Top 40 radio hits of 1973 as featured on Chicago’s WLS was a combination of pop, R&B and classic rock tunes.  Our look back…

At #40 was the Rolling Stones‘ “Angie,” a #1 U.S. hit that year from their Goats Head Soup album. The Carpenters were at #39 with one of their three career #1 chart hits, “Top of the World.”

Paul Simon‘s solo career was in full swing and his “Loves Me Like a Rock” (with background vocals from gospel group the Dixie Hummingbirds) weighed in at #38 for the year.

The Dutch rock band Focus enjoyed some success in the early ’70s, particularly with their big hit “Hocus Pocus” at #36.

What would a year in the 1970s be without multiple Chicago hits? They scored with “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day” (#41) and “Just You ‘n’ Me” (#34).

The Allman Brothers Band‘s biggest Top 40 hit… by far? That would be “Ramblin’ Man” at #2 in Fall 1973 and #32 for the year. Billy Preston enjoyed two #1s including “Will It Go Round in Circles” at #31.

Stevie Wonder released two singles from his Talking Book album, both #1 chart hits: “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” (#70) and “Superstition” (#27).

“Smoke on the Water” was one of two career pop hits for Deep Purple; it was WLS’ #26 song of the year. [Its album gets a Deluxe Edition in 2024.]

In the midst of Grand Funk Railroad‘s great 1970s chart run was the #1 smash “We’re an American Band,” #24 for the year.

Todd Rundgren‘s re-recording of his Nazz song “Hello It’s Me” was #23. We have the inside story of its surprising path to success.

At #20 was Bobby “Boris” Pickett‘s novelty hit, “Monster Mash.” Best Classic Bands previously wrote about it here.

Steely Dan‘s “Do It Again” was at #18 for the year, their first of nine career hits to reach the chart’s top 30.

Jim Croce‘s “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” was the singer-songwriter’s first of two 1973 #1 hits and WLS’ #16 song of the year. (It was #2 for the year on Billboard.) Croce’s “I Got A Name” was released just after he died that year and was #21 for the year.

The Edgar Winter Group enjoyed a, er, monster #1 instrumental hit with “Frankenstein,” #14 for the year and their biggest career hit (ahead of “Free Ride”).

Ringo Starr had a #1 single with “Photograph,” the overall #13 for the year. Paul McCartney edged out his pal at #10 with the ballad “My Love,” a #1 single earlier that year. Wings‘ title song from Live and Let Die was #25 for the year on WLS.

Rock and Roll Hall of Famers the O’Jay’s joyous “Love Train” was #8 for the year and the singing group’s only career #1 pop hit.

What would a ’70s top hits chart be without Elton John? He had four songs on WLS’ biggest hits of the year: “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” (#65), “Daniel” (#50), “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (#42) and “Crocodile Rock,” which was #7 for the year, and the first of his nine career #1’s!

Related: The top-selling albums of 1973

“Brother Louie” by Stories was #6 and was the rock band’s only true pop hit.

Marvin Gaye‘s amazing “Let’s Get It On” was #4 for the year and one of the soul singer’s three pop #1 hits. (Somehow, “Sexual Healing” only reached #3.) The giant earned 13 career #1 R&B hits.

At #1 for the year on WLS: Carly Simon‘s “You’re So Vain,” the singer-songwriter’s only #1 of her career. (And now we know the song was about Warren Beatty.)

Related: A different way of looking at the year: The #1 singles of 1973

40. “Angie” – The Rolling Stones

39. “Top of the World” – The Carpenters

38. “Loves Me Like a Rock” – Paul Simon

37. “Delta Dawn” – Helen Reddy

36. “Hocus Pocus” – Focus

35. “Last Song” – Edward Bear

34. “Just You ‘n’ Me” – Chicago

33. “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree” – Dawn

32. “Ramblin’ Man” – Allman Brothers Band

31. “Will It Go Round in Circles” – Billy Preston

30. “Dancing in the Moonlight” – King Harvest

29. “Neither One of Us” – Gladys Knight & the Pips

28. “Little Willy” – Sweet

27. “Superstition” – Stevie Wonder

26. “Smoke on the Water” – Deep Purple

25. “Live and Let Die” – Wings

24. “We’re An American Band” – Grand Funk Railroad

23. “Hello It’s Me” – Todd Rundgren

22. “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby” – Barry White

21. “I Got a Name” – Jim Croce

20. “Monster Mash” – Bobby “Boris” Pickett

19. “The Morning After” – Maureen McGovern

18. “Do It Again” – Steely Dan

17. “Pillow Talk” – Sylvia

16. “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” – Jim Croce

15. “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love” – Spinners

14. “Frankenstein” – Edgar Winter Group

13. “Photograph” – Ringo Starr

12. “Touch Me in the Morning” – Diana Ross

11. “Ain’t No Woman” – Four Tops

10. “My Love” – Paul McCartney and Wings

9. “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” – Vicki Lawrence

8. “Love Train” – The O’Jays

7. “Crocodile Rock” – Elton John

6. “Brother Louie” – Stories

5. “Half Breed” – Cher

4. “Let’s Get It On” – Marvin Gaye

3. “Killing Me Softly With His Song” – Roberta Flack

2. “Heartbeat, It’s a Lovebeat” – DeFranco Family

1. “You’re So Vain” – Carly Simon

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  1. Petey
    #1 Petey 19 May, 2022, 08:49

    Nothing will ever compare to the music of the 70’s!

    Reply this comment
  2. Roll Tide
    #2 Roll Tide 24 March, 2023, 19:08

    As a Canadian who turned 9 in 1973, The DeFranco Family at #2 seems SO out of place!!

    Reply this comment
    • BMac
      BMac 27 March, 2024, 17:00

      Yeah, The DeFranco Family at…#2??? Based on that observation, all was not well in 1973.

      Reply this comment

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