12. Tim McGraw
> Total songs on Hot Country Songs chart: 75
> Longest-charting hit: Something Like That (35 weeks)
Tim McGraw overtook Garth Brooks as the face of country music in the late 1990s. McGraw’s slickly produced, hooky songs crossed into the adult contemporary genre and he developed a strong female following. His profile was further raised with his marriage to fellow country superstar Faith Hill. The Louisiana native has had 26 Hot Country Songs chart-toppers, among them the monster hit “My Next Thirty Years.”
McGraw began his rise in 1994 with a bit of controversy over the song “Indian Outlaw,” a novelty tune that some found offensive to Native Americans. That single reached No. 8 on the country chart in April 1994, and McGraw landed his first No. 1 the following month with “Don’t Take That Girl.”
11. Kenny Chesney
> Total songs on Hot Country Songs chart: 79
> Longest-charting hit: How Forever Feels (35 weeks)
Kenny Chesney’s emotionally honest ballads have made him popular among female fans. Chesney grew up in the rural town of Luttrell, Tennessee, famous as the home of country legend Chet Atkins.
Chesney’s career took off in 1997 with his first No. 1 “She’s Got It All,” and he then landed two No. 1 hits with “You Had Me from Hello” and “How Forever Feels” off the multi-platinum album “Everywhere We Go” in 1999. Chesney has had 23 Hot Country Songs chart-toppers and 52 Top-10 hits. Crossover success, however, has been more elusive. Chesney’s highest-performing song on the Billboard Hot 100 has been “Out Last Night,” which climbed to No. 16 in 2009.
10. Hank Williams Jr.
> Total songs on Hot Country Songs chart: 81
> Longest-charting hit: Long Gone Lonesome Blues (19 weeks)
The only son of country legend Hank Williams, Hank Williams Jr. — also known as Bocephus — has been releasing records of his own since the early 1960s. His first single, a cover of his father’s “Long Gone Lonesome Blues,” peaked at No. 5 in 1964, when the singer was only 15 years old. Bocephus developed his own distinct sound, particularly after a 1975 accident in which he fell down a mountain. Among his biggest hits are “Family Tradition”, “Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound”, and “Old Habits.”
9. Buck Owens
> Total songs on Hot Country Songs chart: 83
> Longest-charting hit: Act Naturally (36 weeks)
A product of the Depression-era Dust Bowl, Buck Owens is considered the leader of the rock-influenced Bakersfield sound. He released 47 Top 10 hits throughout his career, 21 of which topped the charts. Owens’ popularity peaked during the mid-1960s, during which time he released his most famous songs, including “Act Naturally” and “My Heart Skips a Beat.”
8. Willie Nelson
> Total songs on Hot Country Songs chart: 89
> Longest-charting hit: Don’t You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me (25 weeks)
The pony-tailed, pot-smoking 86-year-old country legend who cultivated an anti-establishment image has been writing and singing professionally since the 1950s. Nelson wrote hits for country icons Ray Price (“Night Life”), Patsy Cline (“Crazy”), and Faron Young (“Hello Walls”). The 10-time Grammy winner teamed with Waylon Jennings to launch outlaw country music further helping his wildly successful career.
Nelson has had 20 No. 1 songs top the Hot Country Songs chart, among them “Living In The Promised Land,” Townes Van Zandt cover “Poncho and Lefty” (with Merle Haggard), and “Beer For My Horses” (with Toby Keith). He’s also had crossover success with songs such as “Always On My Mind,” “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before,” and “On The Road Again,” all of which climbed into the Billboard Hot 100 Top 20.