When the Beatles broke up in April 1970, fans of the band were left wondering what the ex-Fab Four would do after having created, in Ringo’s words, “the greatest show on earth”? The answer came quickly.
Creative differences had been pulling the group apart in the years leading up to its dissolution. One area of tension was Harrison’s desire to have a greater role in the band’s songwriting process. As it turned out, he would be the first ex-Beatle to have a No. 1 hit, with “My Sweet Lord/Isn’t It A Pity,” which first charted in late November 1970. He had a total of three No. 1s as a solo artist before he passed away in 2001.
To determine the biggest hits of the Beatles’ solo careers, 24/7 Tempo reviewed performance data on the Billboard Hot 100 song charts. Songs by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, either by themselves or collaborating with other (non-Beatles) artists, were ranked based on an inverse score wherein a week at No. 1 is worth 100 points, a week at No. 2 worth 99 points, and so on, up to a week at No. 100 worth one point. Chart data is current through the week of August 20, 2022.
McCartney, Harrison, and Starr all had chart-toppers in 1973. McCartney and his band Wings took flight the following year with three songs in the Billboard Top 10. (Of course, when they were still together, the Beatles scored the top prize 20 times, making them the artists with the most No. 1 hits.)
Also in 1974, John Lennon summited the Billboard chart for the first time as a solo performer with the single “Whatever Gets You Thru The Night.” He had a total of four top-10 songs, two of them becoming hits after he was slain in December of 1980.
Starr has five top-10 hits on the list, but has not had a Billboard Hot 100 success since “No No Song/snookeroo” in February of 1975.
McCartney has tried to stay relevant through collaborations with Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Rihanna, and Kanye West. His pairing with Rihanna and West yielded the top-10 hit “FourFiveSeconds,” which reached No. 4 in February of 2015. (These are the most iconic musical duos in history.)
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