So here we have arrived at the Top 10 in our presentation of The Top 100 R&B Songs of the 1970's*. We've heard some great music over the last nine days. And here are 10 more--these are the giants of the 70's:
#10--"Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight & the Pips
You can count on two hands the number of artists who have had more success on the R&B chart than this great group from Atlanta, Georgia. They've had 66 hits in that genre, and three of The Top 100 R&B Songs of the 1970's*. One of the biggest in their career checks in here at #10.
It was released in August, and quickly rose to the top of the R&B chart on October 20, 1973. "Midnight Train to Georgia" ruled the tracks for four glorious weeks. It spent 18 total weeks and sold over a million copies. It took over the top spot from "Keep On Truckin'" by Eddie Kendricks and also rose while the songs "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye and "Higher Ground" by Stevie Wonder were out. Gladys & the group stayed #1 while Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes were trying to muscle in. "Midnight Train to Georgia" also won the Grammy Award for Best Group R&B Performance. So this song has a ton of things going for it--highly deserving of #10.
#9--"Family Affair" by Sly & the Family Stone
This group from San Francisco charted 18 R&B hits from 1968-1986. Two of those were big hits from the 1970's. We already heard "Thank You" from Sly, Larry Graham & the group.
This one spent a total of 13 weeks on the R&B chart and was a million-seller. It was the final #1 from 1971, reaching the top spot on December 4 and holding on to #1 until the smash "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green took over. The song was nominated for Best R&B song of the Year at the Grammy Awards.
#8--"Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)" by Gladys Knight & the Pips
Gladys does a tremendous job on vocals (as usual) on Song #8. The group placed four songs in The Top 100 R&B Songs of the 1970's*.
This great song spent 16 total weeks on the chart. It did not go gold but was at the top for four weeks beginning March 17. It took over from "Love Train" with "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love" by the Spinners still within striking range. It didn't have a lot of competition behind it or it could rank higher. At #8 for the 1970's, Gladys Knight & the Pips...
#7--"Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" by Michael Jackson
We're up to #7 in our exclusive countdown of The Top 100 R&B Songs of the 1970's*. This was Michael Jackson's first #1 on the R&B chart after leaving the Jackson 5.
The song spent 20 weeks on the chart and sold over two million copies. It first hit #1 on September 8, 1979 and remained there for five weeks. It had excellent competiton, taking over from Chic's "Good Times" and holding off "(not just) Knee Deep" by Funkadelic and "Ladies Night" by Kool and the Gang. Michael won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Male Vocal Performance.
#6--"Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)" by Stevie Wonder
He's charted 71 times on the R&B chart with 19 of those going to #1. This is his biggest hit of the 70's in the genre.
"Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" spent 15 weeks on the R&B chart and took over at #1 on August 1, 1970. All told, the smash remained at #1 for six weeks, all this battling songs like "Love On A Two-Way Street" by the Moments and "The Love You Save" by the Jackson 5. Wonder was nominated for both Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song.
#5--"Thank You (Falenitmebmiceelfagin) by Sly & the Family Stone
This song came at a time when this group could do no wrong. They'd already scored big hits with "Everyday People" and "Hot Fun in the Summertime". This one was a huge hit and one of the first of the decade.
This song spent 14 weeks on the R&B chart and sold over a million copies. Even though songs like "Someday We'll Be Together" by Diana Ross and the Supremes and "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5 dominated the #1 spot on the R&B chart, this song took over on February 7, 1970 and stood tall for five weeks. "Rainy Night In Georgia" by Brook Benton and "ABC" from the Jackson 5 were coming up at the time Sly & the Family Stone were #1.
#4--"I'll Be There" by the Jackson 5
And now we're up to #4. It's the top song of six in The Top 100* from the quintet from Gary, Indiana.
The classic at #4 spent 13 weeks on the chart. It was one of four consecutive #1 songs in 1970 to begin their careers. It took over the top spot on the R&B chart from "Ain't No Mountain High Enough", the great song by Diana Ross, reaching #1 on October 10. There wasn't great competition coming up to challenge other than "The Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles.
#3--Let's Get It On by Marvin Gaye
#3--Let's Get It On by Marvin Gaye
Gaye achieved his eighth #1 R&B song with this one, the smash at #3.
"Let's Get It On" spent 17 weeks on the chart. Although the competition was not great at the time, Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" was one song that challenged. Gaye reached #1 on the R&B chart on August 18, 1973 and remained there for six weeks. Gaye was nominated for Best R&B Male Vocal Perfrmance for the song. This chart dominance, plus its staying power since 1973 lands Marvin right here.
#2--"What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye
And here we have Gaye's top R&B song of the decade at #2. It's one of four that Marvin placed in The Top 100*.
"What's Going On" reached #1 on the R&B chart on March 27, 1971. It took over from the great Temptations song "Just My Imagination" and held off "Never Can Say Goodbye" by the Jackson 5. Without those two blockbuster songs, it could have possibly been #1 longer than five weeks. "What's Going On" spent 15 weeks on the chart but did not go gold.
#1--"Let's Stay Together" by Al Green
Green is from Forrest City, Arkansas. This was just his seventh single release and it became a #1 song. Beginning with this song, he attracted such popularity that 10 of his 11 singles finished in the Top 3 on the R&B chart.
The #1 R&B Song of the 1970's* spent 16 weeks on the chart and sold well over a million copies. Having to face smash hits like "Inner City Blues" by Marvin Gaye, "Have You Seen Her" from the Chi-Lites and "Family Affair" by Sly & the Family Stone, all of which we've heard in The Top 100*, this song still reached the top of the R&B chart on January 8, 1972. Nothing could touch it for nine weeks. "In the Rain" by the Dramatics, another Top 100 R&B Song*, was on its heels towards the end of that incredible nine-week run. To this day, the song still gets very good airplay. So this song had everything--incredible chart performance, longevity, sales and competition.