Best Weekly Singles Charts of All-Time: September 1973 Edition

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We're An American BandThere are memorable periods for classic rock songs on Top 40 radio and then there are weeks like this one in late summer 1973 when no less than five all-time great rock ’n’ roll tunes ruled the airwaves’ Top 10. Two ultimately hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, two peaked at #2 – likely due to the tough competition – and another true classic stalled nationally at #12.

Here’s the scoop:

Entering Boston’s WRKO weekly survey at #25 was an all-time Doobie Brothers‘ favorite, “China Grove.” (It would ultimately reach #15 on the Hot 100.)

Also debuting on the chart at #24 were local favorites Aerosmith with “Dream On.” The song would peak nationally this time around at only #59. Three years’ later, as the band’s stature grew, the song was re-released to radio and it reached #6.

The week’s highest debut was Stevie Wonder‘s “Higher Ground” at #17. Jumping from #21 to #16: the Edgar Winter Group‘s “Free Ride.” The song was written by the band’s lead vocalist Dan Hartman and produced by Rick Derringer. That’s Ronnie Montrose on lead guitar.

At #10 this week – on its way to #1 – was “Angie” by the Rolling Stones, the band’s seventh U.S. chart topper. The ballad features piano from longtime Stones session player Nicky Hopkins who Best Classic Bands profiled here.

The only Top 10 hit by the Allman Brothers Band, “Ramblin’ Man,” with lead vocals by Dickey Betts, was at #8. It would peak nationally at #2, and none of their other singles came close on the pop charts.

Related: See where the Allmans’ Brothers and Sisters ranks among the year’s biggest albums

Though Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” was at #7 on WRKO, it inexplicably peaked at just #12 nationally. The song was the first single from John’s hugely successful double album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and paved the way for two other big hits from the collection, the title track and “Bennie And The Jets.”

Related: The biggest radio hits of 1973

A year after scoring her first #1 single with “I Am Woman,” Helen Reddy returned to the top of the chart with “Delta Dawn,” which was #6 this week.

Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band” at #2, ultimately became one of two #1 hits for the, um, American band in 1973. (The other was their cover of “The Loco-Motion.”)

What was #1 this week in Beantown? Paul Simon’s “Loves Me Like A Rock” (and the second single from his There Goes Rhymin’ Simon album to stall nationally at #2; the other was “Kodachrome.”)

What a week!

25. “China Grove” – The Doobie Brothers (Warner Bros.)

24. “Dream On” – Aerosmith (Columbia)

17. “Higher Ground” – Stevie Wonder (Tamla)

16. “Free Ride” – Edgar Winter Group (Epic)

10. “Angie” – Rolling Stones (Rolling Stones)

9. “Gypsy Man” – War (United Artists)

8. “Ramblin’ Man” – The Allman Brothers Band (Capricorn)

7. “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” – Elton John (MCA)

6. “Delta Dawn” – Helen Reddy (Capitol)

5. “Let’s Get It On” – Marvin Gaye (Tamla)

4. “Touch Me In The Morning” – Diana Ross (Motown)

3. “Brother Louie” – Stories (Kama Sutra)

2. “We’re An American Band” – Grand Funk Railroad (Capitol)

1. “Loves Me Like A Rock” – Paul Simon (Columbia)


Best Classic Bands Staff

3 Comments so far

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  1. Dougster
    #1 Dougster 12 September, 2020, 16:03

    C,mon guys. Get your facts straight. If you’re going to go out of your way to give details, at least know what you’re talking about. Free Ride by Edgar Winter group has RICK DERRINGER playing lead guitar not Ronnie Montrose!

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  2. Baybluesman
    #2 Baybluesman 10 September, 2022, 21:21

    Directly from the website, regarding who actually played lead guitar on “Free Ride” – it really depends which version you are speaking of:


    “In 1972, he (Edgar Winter, after White Trash) started clean with a new band: the Edgar Winter Group.

    Dan Hartman, who was in a Pennsylvania band called the Legends, was his first recruit.
    Hartman had already written “Free Ride” (which is one of the reasons Winter wanted him), so it was one of the first songs this new group recorded.

    Hartman played guitar on the album version of the song, with Randy Jo Hobbs on bass and Johnny Badanjek on drums.

    When the group fully formed, it was with Ronnie Montrose on guitar, Chuck Ruff on drums, and Hartman on bass.

    Speaking with Songfacts, producer Rick Derringer said that on the single version, which they recorded later, he (Rick Derringer) played lead guitar.”

    The live video clip in this article, of course, is Rick Derringer (Gibson Firebird and all), from the “In Concert” series of the early 70’s.

    in summary, it was Dan Hartman’s on the LP version, and re-recorded with Rick Derringer for the single release.

    Ronnie Montrose played lead guitar on “Frankenstein” and most other songs from “They Only Come Out At Night” album, but the “Free Ride” album version was all Dan Hartman.

    Shortly after album release, Ronnie Montrose left, to form his own band, and the single version featured Rick Derringer, who stepped in for Montrose, on tour, along with Jerry Weems (another very good, unheralded guitarist) whom I saw with Edgar Winter on tour – probably one of the very first shows the EWG performed (at Slippery Rock State College, of PA) – right before the LP became a mega-success.

    Great article – thanks to BCB for researching and assembling these listings.

    Support Live Music.

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  3. Jay
    #3 Jay 4 October, 2022, 12:25

    You are probably more accurate and more sources available…. but… I saw an interview RD where he stated he was in the studio with EW and his band The McCoys.. that left their label and weren’t allowed to use their names via contract ties…. THEY were named White Trash by EW… Tape all over the floor and somebody said…. looks like Frankenstein…RD could have been A&R… but I think he alluded to he played…. also saw him in vid with Ringo/EW doing frankenstein….

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