Music History

Published on September 12th, 2017 | by Alan Cross


How Long Can It Take to Have a Top 40 Hit Single? You’d Be Surprised. Look.

AC/DC has never been a singles band, instead selling albums by the tens of millions. Everyone knows about the Velvet Underground, but they’ve never had a hit single. It took Bruce Springsteen to have his first genuine hit single.

Gocompare studied career longevity, looking for how long it took for legendary musicians to have a hit single. Here’s some of what they found:

Artists Who Waited the Longest to Have a Top 40 Hit Single

1. AC/DC – 40 years with ‘Highway To Hell‘ in 2013
2. Public Enemy – 25 years with ‘Harder Than You Think‘ in 2007
3. Grateful Dead – 22 years with ‘Touch Of Grey‘ in 1987
4. Nine Inch Nails – 17 years with ‘The Hand That Feeds‘ in 2005
5. Curtis Mayfield – 16 years with ‘Freddie’s Dead‘ in 1972
6. Bruce Springsteen – 16 years with ‘Hungry Heart‘ in 1980
7. Johnny Cash – 15 years with ‘A Boy Named Sue‘ in 1969
8. Bob Marley – 13 years with ‘No Woman, No Cry‘ in 1975
9. Ray Charles – 12 years with ‘What’d I Say‘ in 1959
10. Jay Z – 12 years with ‘Hard Knock Life‘ in 1998


Legendary Artists Who Have Never Had a Top 40 Hit Single

Howlin’ Wolf
Bo Diddley
Velvet Underground

Everything is laid out in an interactive chart. Make sure you have fun with the filters.


Life & Times of Greatest Artists by


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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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