The history of the Official Charts: the Sixties

The Beatles begin to rule, Engelbert scores a million twice in a year and the charts become "Official" for the first time.

1960 – after a period of competitive charts from various music papers all vying for pre-eminence, the UK trade title Record Retailer’s (later to be renamed ‘Music Week’) singles and albums charts are recognised as the “official” charts to the majority of the UK record industry – these run to Top 50 and Top 20 respectively and are compiled in-house at Record Retailer from a panel of 30 shops.

1961 – Elvis becomes the first artist to hold the top spot in both the Official Singles and Albums Charts in January and February, doing so for four solid weeks with Are You Lonesome Tonight? and the G.I. Blues soundtrack respectively.

1963 – Record Retailer hires an independent auditor to oversee compilation of its now “official” charts.

In March The Beatles’ From Me To You becomes the legendary four-piece’s first Number 1 single. It sets in motion a record for any group of 17 Number 1 Singles, spanning the next six years.

She Loves You becomes The Beatles’ first million-seller after its release in August. To date, the legendary four-piece have six titles in the all-time UK Million Sellers list (She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Can’t Buy Me Love, I Feel Fine, We Can Work It Out/Daytripper and Hey Jude).

1964 – Top Of The Pops is first broadcast on Wednesday January 1, based around a Top 20. The Rolling Stones open the show with their Number 13 hit I Wanna Be Your Man, but The Beatles have six records in the Top 20 including I Want To Hold Your Hand at Number 1.

1966 – Record Retailer’s Albums Chart expands from Top 20 to Top 30 in April, before further expanding to a Top 40 in December.

1967 – BBC Radio 1 takes the air for the first time from 7am on September 30 1967, Flowers In the Rain by The Move is the first track to played by launch DJ Tony Blackburn. The week’s Number 1 is Engelbert Humperdinck’s The Last Waltz – The Hump’s second million-seller of the year.

The Beatles release Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which becomes their eighth Number 1 album – they go on to claim 15 Number 1 albums, while Sgt. Pepper becomes the biggest-selling Sixties album of all time and one of only three to top 5 million sales in the history of the UK charts (together with greatest hits by Queen and Abba).

1969 – the BBC and Record Retailer join forces to revolutionise the UK’s chart compilation process. The two organisations commission the British Market Research Bureau (BMRB) to compile the UK’s charts on their behalf – these are the first true industry-recognised charts and are referred to as the UK’s “official” charts for the first time.

These charts are initially compiled from a panel of 250 record shops, who log their sales by hand and submit their totals by post. Over the years, the panel grows to 750 stores, with 250 used every week for the singles chart and 450 for the albums chart, coming out on Tuesdays and Wednesdays respectively.

While the singles chart remains a stable Top 50 rundown week in-week out, the length of the albums chart goes through a strange period, varying in length from 15 to 77, before stabilising as a Top 50 in January 1971.