Elvis outlives himself on the charts

In life and death, Elvis Presley is the "King", a legendary title that is now established as a fact of pop history. The latest edition of British Hit Singles and Albums, published today, has compiled the definitive top-50 list of artists who have dominated the weekly singles and album charts since the "hit parade" was launched in 1952.

In its 52-year history, Presley has appeared in both for a staggering total of 47 years and two months - four years and six months longer than he lived.

The 17th edition of the "pop bible", published by Guinness World Records, analyses the album and singles success, to provide an overall picture of artists' sales performance over the half-century.

Following Presley, in second place, is Sir Cliff Richard in a top ten which features, in order, the Beatles, Queen, Madonna, Sir Elton John, the Shadows, David Bowie, Michael Jackson and U2.

The singles chart in Britain has varied in length over its history. When Presley first appeared in 1956 with Heartbreak Hotel the hit parade listed 30 records. In 1978, the year after he died, the chart stabilised at its present length of the top 75 singles. But no matter the number, Presley is comfortably out in front in the all-time top-50 UK chart.

The list was compiled from data on every single act ever to have entered the UK single or album charts since 1952 and it has revealed a raft of pop trivia. "Combining singles and albums charts for the first time allows us to accurately measure the greats," said David Roberts, the editor of British Hit Singles and Albums.

But even he was astonished at the amazing Presley statistic. He added: "It's a massive performance from Elvis, who's notched up almost a decade's worth of extra chart life over his nearest rival, Sir Cliff.

"However, Elvis is simply timeless; he just goes on and on forever, the fact of that being that he has been in the charts longer than he was on earth. "He was 496 weeks clear of his nearest rival. "Any album released with his name on it is guaranteed to get into the charts. He had old fans, and he gets new fans, because he is still cool. "The Beatles are the same. They just don't become dated." Mr Roberts said that apart from Presley's musical longevity, the top of the all-time chart had not thrown up too many surprises.

Source: The Scotsman / updated: May 28, 2004