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As previously reported, Justin Timberlake‘s third solo album, The 20/20 Experience, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 968,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The sum is the largest for any album this year and the best of the former ‘N Sync member’s solo career.
Another way to frame Timberlake’s success? He’s just the sixth artist in the Billboard 200’s 57-year history to notch multiple No. 1 albums both with a group and as a soloist. And half of those six are Beatles, meaning Timberlake is in some truly Fab company.
Here’s a look at the select six superstar artists to top the Billboard 200 more than once both as group members and on their own:
McCartney scored a record 19 No. 1s with the Beatles (between 1964 and 2001) and seven with his group Wings; of those latter seven, two were billed to McCartney, two to Paul and Linda McCartney and three to Paul McCartney & Wings. His 1982 No. 1 Tug of War remains the last solo album by a Beatle to rule the chart.
In addition to his astonishing 19 No. 1s with the Fab Four, Lennon logged three leaders on his own, one each credited to himself, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and John Lennon & Yoko Ono (the lattermost set serving as his swan song, 1980’s eight-week No. 1 Double Fantasy).
Harrison likewise augmented his 19 Billboard 200 toppers with multiple solo No. 1s: 1970’s All Things Must Pass and 1973’s Living in the Material World.
Since the No. 2-peaking The Slim Shady LP introduced the rapper in 1999, he’s yet to miss the Billboard 200 summit with a solo album, notching six No. 1s from 2000’s The Marshall Mathers LP through 2010’s Recovery. Perhaps overshadowed are his two No. 1s as part of D12: the rap collective reigned in 2001 with Devil’s Night and in 2004 with D12 World. (His one entry as half of Bad Meets Evil, 2011’s Hell: The Sequel (EP), also hit No. 1).
Destiny’s Child crowned the Billboard 200 with 2001’s Survivor and 2005’s best-of #1’s. Beyonce’s four studio solo albums, meanwhile, have all topped the chart: Dangerously in Love (2003), B’Day (2006) I Am … Sasha Fierce (2008) and 4 (2011).
JT joins the list upon the arrival of The 20/20 Experience, as his previous solo set, FutureSex/LoveSounds, led for two weeks in 2006. (His first solo album, 2002’s Justified, debuted and peaked at No. 2.) As a member of mega boy band ‘N Sync, he led with No Strings Attached in 2000 and Celebrity in 2001.
Honorable mention, too, to Eric Clapton. He never notched multiple No. 1s with the same group but did dominate once each with Blind Faith and Cream before posting three solo No. 1s from 1974-1994. (He also debuted as recently as last week at No. 7 with his new album Old Sock).
Perhaps just as intriguing as the exclusive list of six acts that have topped the Billboard 200 more than once both with a group (or duo) and solo is the list of superstar acts that haven’t, despite enviable success both as band members and on their own.
Michael Jackson, for instance, scored six solo No. 1s but, perhaps surprisingly, the Jackson 5/Jacksons never rose higher than No. 4 with any of their albums.
The Supremes rung up three No. 1s, but Diana Ross led only with 1972’s Lady Sings the Blues soundtrack. Had 1980’s No. 2-peaking Diana climbed one spot higher, she’d be included. Similarly, Simon & Garfunkel garnered three No. 1s from 1966-1968, and Paul Simon peaked with the 1975 No. 1 Still Crazy After All These Years and his 1973 No. 2 There Goes Rhymin’ Simon. And, while not quite strictly a group/solo comparison, Dave Grohl reached No. 1 four times with Nirvana and once with the Foo Fighters, while the latter group has also scored a No. 2-peaking effort.
Creedence Clearwater led with two albums, from 1969-1970, but John Fogerty hit No. 1 only once on his own, with 1985’s Centerfield. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released three No . 1 albums from 1970 1974, but Neil Young added a lone solo leader with 1972’s Harvest. And Fleetwood Mac posted four No. 1s between 1975 and 1997, but its only solo topper by a band member is Stevie Nicks‘ 1981 album Bella Donna.
Other notable acts missing the cut (so far, in the cases of relatively more recent acts): the Beach Boys/Brian Wilson … the Black Eyed Peas/Fergie … Black Sabbath/Ozzy Osbourne … Chicago/Peter Cetera … Commodores/Lionel Richie … Eagles/Don Henley, Glenn Frey … Genesis/Phil Collins … Go-Go’s/Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin … Journey/Steve Perry … the Judds/Wynonna … Led Zeppelin/Jimmy Page, Robert Plant … matchbox twenty/Rob Thomas … the Miracles/Smokey Robinson … New Edition/Bell Biv DeVoe, Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant … Pink Floyd/David Gilmour, Roger Waters … the Police/Sting … and the Rolling Stones/Mick Jagger.
And, of course, Ringo Starr. Not only is he the only Beatle without multiple solo No. 1 albums, he’s also never netted even one, climbing to a career-best No. 2 as a soloist with 1973’s Ringo.
But again, surely softening the blow are the 19 times he got by all competition … with a little help from his friends in the Beatles.
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