The 1950’s Decade Series

On holiday in the Lake District, one evening by the fire, my wife and I were talking and she asked me why I liked the charts so much. I tried to explain. My wife is not a fan of the charts, but that does not stop her appreciating the enthusiasm and effort I take over the subject. I’ve known people who appreciate somebody listening to a person talk on a subject they feel passionately about, without sharing that passion themselves.

When I had finished explaining she asked me why I didn’t complete a book of my own – “after all,” she said “if it’s all in the database then it should be easy right? And if you enjoy it and others enjoy it then they might like to see what you have done.”

And so I did.

The first book was issued in 2017 and was for the NME Singles charts for 1952-1959. It took me ages to set it all up and I learnt a great deal. Making it the way I did was not ideal at all and I resolved to do something better. Over the next year I made more books and got irritated each time with the effort it took. Once again my wife helped out with an excellent suggestion “Well, why not re-make the database then, if that’s all you need to do?”

So in December 2018 I began to re-build the database from scratch, building in from the beginning ways to create and format the books and ensuring that’s I got as much of it right as possible. Yes, errors do still abound. I keep finding incorrect catalogue numbers or spelling errors in artists names or titles. But, on the whole, the database is a vast improvement over the original one – begun back in 2006!

I mention all this because I have re-created that first book and anybody purchasing the Decade Series Volume 1 (1952-1959) from now on will receive the updated volume. Do please check out the page because a lot of work has gone into making it a new volume. The page count has doubled as I have gone for adding in full credits, and I have added an image to the database for each and every cover, meaning that I now have the ability to list the number 1’s with a cover image.

Date is also now added for artists entry date, hit count, weeks, etc, which was previously absent.

I’ve enjoyed putting this together and re-visiting my first book. Do you have any ideas for other books I could create? Do let me know and I’ll add to the list.

I’ve also updated the dates of issue of the further decade books in the series. 1980’s has been put back to 2023 because the full Gallup Top 200’s with sales data are being posted on UKMix and I want to wait to add them all in. I also need to work out how to complete them properly in book form.

The 70 Years Series – An Update

Firstly, I want to say I am overwhelmed by the delightful messages I have been getting about the first 10 issues of the series that have been released so far. I’m humbled that everybody is enjoying the series so much, and very grateful to you all for purchasing it.

I am amending the subscription rate now so that it does not automatically include the 1950’s decade series of issues. I am doing this simply so that anybody subscribing now gets all future issues (from 1960 onwards) but not the 1950’s series, which must now be bought separately.

If a subscription where started today then payments would be taken for some time after the end of the series, and, in an extreme case, months after if a subscriber began when, say, issue from 1994 had been released.

It is my intention that the price will remain the same for those subscribing now, and that now price increases will occur. I do not intend to increase the price of the series at all. Some have commented that I could have charged more for each volume and I believe that I could have, but I also wish very much to share this with as many as possible, hence the price being set as it is.

Others have also asked about future plans and whilst I do not wish to go into these now, I do have plans for other series. Other significant anniversaries are upon us in the next few years – 2026 for example is the 70th birthday of the Album chart, and 2024 35 years since the Compilation album chart was split form the main albums chart. In America, next year is the 65th birthday of the Hot 100 and other milestones are coming soon for the American charts.

For now though I want to thank you all once again for your continued support and kind messages. On with the series!

70 Years of the UK Charts

A new book subscription series

In 1952 Percy Dickins, who died in 2002, launched the first chart specifically looking at music sales in the United Kingdom.  1952, 70 years ago, was the start of a new Elizabethan era and a feeling of newness as the dark days of the War (both of them), still fresh in people’s minds, began to fade as life returned to normal.

That first chart, published on 14 November 1952, was calculated by phoning about 25 record shops in the London area – so not entirely a national chart – but it was the first chart in the UK to try and calculate record sales.  By the end of the decade though, it was a national chart, with returns being provided from all over the country and it had competition from Record Mirror, Melody Maker, and, in March 1960, the fledgling Record Retailer and their tiny 30 shop sample size. 

During the 1960’s the war of the chart papers meant that each had their own chart (three with Record Mirror opting to print the Record Retailer chart from 1962) for the public to peruse, and each had, in some cases, their own number 1. During this period shops would supply a list of records and the compiler would award points (10 for a 1, 9 for a 2, etc) and add them up to arrive at the chart. This, coupled with the multiple number ones, led the BBC, who since the 1950’s had averaged the main chart papers chart’s to create their own composite chart, to join with Record Retailer, Billboard and the music industry to create the British Market Research Bureau chart.  This chart would gather data from record shops using diaries where actual sales would be added up and used to arrive at a chart.  

The BMRB chart began in February 1969 and ushered in a new era, one that would last until the mid 1980’s-1990’s as diaries filled in at the desk by the sales clerk at the time they sold the record would be used to compile the chart.  Data was posted Saturday night, arrived Monday morning, was calculated Monday and the new chart announced on the BBC at lunchtime Tuesday, before being printed in Music Week, as Record Retailer was renamed, on the Thursday. In essence this is still how the charts are compiled, although technology has advanced the process.

In 1983 Gallup took over chart compilation and began to introduce EPOS (Electronic Point Of Sale) machines to accurately track the barcodes, thus trying to eliminate hyping of record, one way of getting a record into the chart so it would be played on the then all important Top Of The Pops.  The chart also increased to a Top 100 (although positions 76-100 where only records with sales increases or new entries).

In 1994 Millwood Brown took over chart compilation, a position they still hold. New technology meant that all shops would now get EPOS machines and more shops would be added to the panel.  By the end of the decade the chart return shops accounted for about 95% of the market, possibly as high as 98% (Sources vary).

Steve Jobs revolutionised technology with his Apple products and these, from 2004, changed the charts as a download chart was started and, from 2007, digital tracks began to line up against the physical releases.  Streaming in the 2010’s was also changed how the charts work and, like or loath streaming, the chart is reflecting the newer technology people are using to access and consume music.  In 1945 the 45rpm was created and this replaced, in the 1950’s, the 78RPM.  In the 1990’s CD replaced vinyl, and in the 2000’s Downloads replaced physical sales, before even that was replaced by streaming a decade later.  

Today’s singles chart reflects the changing technology, and after 70 years and almost 60,000 charting records (in the full Top 200 where appropriate) this year’s anniversary is a point I am not going to miss.

In December 2018 I began to rebuild my database with precisely this anniversary in mind and now, three years later, the database is ready to launch the book series ’70 Years Of UK Charts’.  Each book in the series will focus on a single chart year and be issued one a week from February 2022 through to June 2023 when the 2022 issue will be produced.

Each issue will include a full chart history for that year, but will also include a wealth of other information derived from the database. Each book includes some brand new information, never before calculated in this level of detail.

  • Chart History
    • As appropriate, chart rule changes are highlighted.  It’s not always easy to know what was and was not allowed and sometimes odd records appear and then vanish, so this section will bring together as much information as possible about how the charts were compiled at the time.
  • Milestones
    • These are a listing of the important chart changes, such as frozen weeks, chart size changes, etc.
  • Chart Age
    • A new metric, looking at the average age of each week’s chart.  This is found by adding up the weeks on chart column and dividing by how many records are present.  This has been calculated to answer the question ‘What is the age of this week’s chart?’ and ‘Is this the youngest/oldest chart?’  Only the Top 130 and Bottom 130 chart weeks are shown as we have about 3650 chart weeks from 1952 to 2022 .
  • Number 1’s
    • Number 1 lists are always shown in books about the UK charts, but this listing is different as it will showcase an image of the record cover for the first time.
  • The Top 500 Artists
    • One of the things I enjoyed twenty years ago was buying the new Guinness Book Of British Hit Singles and looking at where my favourite artists had moved to in the list of Top artists. Each issue will present a list of the artists and their ranking to date, with where the artist was on the previous years’ listing.  Equally, from 1960 decade listings will be presented showing where the artists line up per decade. 
  • Full Chart History
    • As usual, the full chart history will be presented in alphabetical order by artist showing entry date, weeks on chart, peak position, title, composers, b-side, label, catalogue number and duration.  From 1973 the BPI awards will also be shown.  Full listings showcase all re-entries, even if the record only dropped off the chart for one week. 
  • The Annual
    • This is a listing of the records by peak position within the year, and shows all records that charted during the calendar year. This listing type has been created for the USA, but not for the UK.
  • Weekly Charts
    • The full weekly charts are presented here, so that readers can see in full the accurate and complete charts for each week.
  • The Hit Log
    • This is also something never before published – a listing of all records to chart but in the order in which they first entered the charts, together with a picture of the entry.
  • BPI Awards (from 1973)
    • The BPI began listing awards for records from 1973 and these are now listed alongside the chart entries and weekly charts, showing the highest award granted to that point.  A listing is also presented of the awards by award date here, using the best available information to assign full details to the records. 

More information and how to purchase a subscription – or individual issues – is available on the ’70 Years UK Charts’ page.

I’m really excited to launch this series and I hope you will come with me though the data.  It will be fascinating to track it all! 

All is quiet… but something this way comes

I’ve been quiet for a while. Quite because I’ve been plotting. And planning.

What does one do when they have suddenly and unexpectedly got some time on their hands?

Well in my case I have begun to go and amend the artist credits in my database. Not an easy task and it has led to finding covers for well over 70,000 records – or will be when I’m done.

Why do this? Well the main artist on a record is usually what the chart books credit. But there are others that the label gives equal prominence to that sometimes get overlooked.

The Andrews Sisters

Let’s take the above example. The entry is found in Joel Whitburns excellent book under the Andrews Sisters and while Gordon Jenkins is credited, it is as ‘Orchestra by’ in a line at the top and this diminishes his contribution.

An example here – listen to the same version of a song by two different artists – be it ‘Into The Unknown’ by Idina Menzel & Aurora or by Panic! At The Disco or ‘If’ by Jo Stafford (and Paul Weston) or Perry Como (and Mitchell Ayers) – the songs are different. Each wants to make their own version. Each is different. I’m not going to say one is better!

The orchestra makes a difference as does the conductor. Any classical music fan will tell you that this conductor does that piece so much better than this other conductor with the same orchestra.

So why don’t the chart books list all this? And I thought that I’d go back and add this stuff into my own database.

It’s had another unusual side effect as well as it has allowed me to standardise some things such as numbers for the entries and ensure that what’s on the cover is how titles are displayed (American spellings always get me as I just found one today where I used ‘Colour’ and the cover spells it ‘Color’ – which my spellcheck says is wrong as I use British English by default).

I hope everybody is keeping well and if your after any specific things to be posted here then do let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

Melody Maker Albums

For many years, Melody Maker were credited as starting the Album chart listing (before the Record Mirror charts where remembered). After 1960 though, when Record Retailer began their chart, the Melody Maker albums where forgotten despite being more accurate.

In the mid 2000’s though, they where resurrected for an 8 week period in 1971 when the strike by postal workers meant that no Album charts where compiled by the British Market Research Bureau. That means that for a brief period, Melody Maker are now credited, again, as compiling the official chart.

1988 would be the last year that they would compile their own chart before taking first the MRIB chart and then from 10 June 1995 the Official charts, compiled by Chart Information Network.

Melody Maker had the biggest sample size of all the papers charts at one point, proudly proclaiming over 200 record stores sent them data. It would be the largest sample size until the 1980’s for the official chart. Yet Melody Maker only compiled a Top 10 albums for almost all of the period 1958-1969. Why? The single was cheaper and sold more copies. You could buy a single with your pocket money but an album was a treat. Something for Christmas.

I’ve just finished adding the Melody Maker charts to my database (well, almost, still stuck in the 1980’s) and I wanted to put out the first volume in this series. I hope you like the new format and do let me know if you have any feedback on it.

I’ve also included the weekly charts as well, as the Melody Maker albums charts are difficult to track down and lacked some important information on first publication. For example, it was when Music Business Weekly began printing the Top 30 (and Breakers) that catalogue numbers where printed.

Check out the sample and link below to the book and let me know what other books you would be interested in to help while away long hours shut indoors.

Melody Maker Albums 1958-1969

New Book Added!

Today I have launched a new book, this time covering the NME charts for the 1970’s. It’s been a while since I have updated a book, as I have bene focusing on amending how the database works as well as adding lots of new data to the database so that a lot more books can be coming in the future.

I’m planning on completing a new book in the next weeks focusing on the Melody Maker Album charts (to go with the other Melody Maker book I already have) as this is an area that has had little research at all over the years. So do keep coming back and drop me an email if their is a book you are after specifically and I’ll see if thats something I can complete.

The Missing Charts – 4 missing albums (Part 2)

This is a series of posts looking at four missing weeks in the UK Album charts from the 1960’s.  This week, the second error in 1969 and how this came to be found after fifty years.

Through The Past Darkly

An adaptation of UK Album Chart History, in light of some new evidence.

Written, researched and compiled by Lonnie Readioff

1969 was a tumultuous year for the UK Album chart.  It was turning 14 years old, having been started by Record Mirror in 1956, and entered the difficult teenage years rather badly.  In February the chart began to be referred to as the National UK Chart, compiled as it was by the British Market Research Bureau (BMRB).  They had been tasked by Record Retailer, Record Mirror, Billboard and the BBC to produce an accurate countdown of the best selling singles and albums each week in the UK, as it was felt that an Official chart should be produced.

Initially the setup was that 300 record shops, spread throughout the UK, should fill in diaries with the catalogue number of the record they had just sold.  These would then be posted, at the close of Saturday, to the BMRB and they would, on the following Monday, type these into their computer and calculate a Singles Chart and then an Album chart.  This would be sent to the BBC on Tuesday for announcing on Tuesday lunchtime and then printed in Record Retailer and others by the following Saturday. 

Issues surrounding chart compilation are not within the scope of this work, but it was clear within a few weeks that the BMRB could not compile both charts accurately by the Tuesday deadline.  So a decision was reached to compile the Singles chart quickly, and then compile the Albums at a slower pace.  This appears, from conjecture, to have been done from 15 March, as the 15 March and 8 March charts printed everywhere are identical, once issues surrounding Budget releases are taken into account (But that’s for Part 3 of this series)

So by September 1969, a pattern had been formed.  The Singles Chart would arrive for publication on the Tuesday, and the Albums on the Wednesday or possibly Thursday.  Again, that it arrived at those times is conjecture, but seems a logical assumption to make.  Sometimes this would be before the publication deadline and sometimes it would not be.  And the sometimes before is the reason for this article.

On 4 October 1969 Record Retailer printed a Top 40 (the Top 20 and Albums 21-40 without last week positions, but containing weeks on chart.)  This chart stated that the Beatles were new at Number 1 with Abbey Road.   The top 10 of this chart is shown below.

# Artist Title
1The BeatlesAbbey Road
2Blind FaithBlind Faith
3Johnny CashAt San Quentin
4MantovaniThe World Of Volume 2
5The Rolling
Through The Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2)
6Ray ConniffHis Orchestra His Chorus
His Singers His Sound
7Bob DylanNashville Skyline
8Jim ReevesAccording To My Heart
9MantovaniThe World Of
10Val DoonicanThe World Of

The problem is that this chart contained, as printed, last week positions that did not correspond to the previous weeks chart at all and week counts that were all wrong by one.  One or two may be considered a printing error, as did happen. Many times in the 1950’s and 1960’s Billboard, printed the incorrect last week position for one or two placings across it’s many charts and no magazine or publication can be completely free of such errors.  Equally some records did have week count errors due to mistakes or forgetfulness on the part of the printers or compilers in the days before computers and databases.

But the chart had never been printed with the entire chart having the wrong last week positions.

The following week, 11 October, Record Retailer split the charts into two – a Top 25 “Top Albums” (with, curiously, no last week positions but a set of weeks on chart that where identical to the previous chart printed on 4 October) and a Top 15 “Bargain LP’s” chart, excluding Budget releases (again with no last week positions but week counts matching what had been printed the week before.)  Removing the Bargain LP’s form the printed 4 October chart produced the chart for 11 October exactly.  

The chart books have, over the years, taken the view (in my opinion) that the printed chart in Record Retailer is correct and it is the right chart.  But they did not look closely at the last week positions or the week counts and did not look at Record Mirror.

From 1962 Record Mirror printed the Singles Top 50 and Albums charts as compiled by Record Retailer.  In one or two instances they printed a chart that Record Retailer compiled but did not print itself and from 1969, as stated above, they also printed the official BMRB chart. On 27 September they printed a chart matching that printed in Record Retailer.  On 4 October they did not, instead printing a chart which is identical to the last week positions shown on the Record Retailer printed chart for 4 October.

Record Mirror Top 10 as printed on 4 October 1969.  From the authors personal collection.
Record Retailer Top 10 as printed on 4 October.  Note the last week positions corresponding to the Record Mirror chart. From the authors personal collection.

Chart history, therefore, shows that the Rolling Stones had a number 1 with “Through The Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2)” becoming the 72nd UK Number 1 album.  This drops the Beatles “Abbey Road” to only having 11 weeks at number 1 in 1969, instead of 12, and making it the 73rd UK Number 1 Album.  Although the readers of Record Mirror knew this since 1969 I’m happy that my research has finally brought to light the true number 1 album of 4 October 1969.

Graham Betts has also included this ‘new’ chart in his recent book ‘The Official Charts: The Sixties’, alongside the original and incorrect chart (Page 539 when you buy the book).  The change of chart was even mentioned in the official announcement.

‘For the first time, the Official Charts book also presents chart fans with possible alternative charts for two weeks in 1969; one which shows a possible breach of chart rules that led to budget albums being included in the chart for March 8 1969, and on October 4 1969 there is the inclusion of a chart from Record Mirror alongside that of Record Retailer which suggests a different album chart rundown.’

The Missing Charts – 4 missing albums (Part 1)

This is the start of a series of posts looking at the four missing weeks of UK album charts from the 1960’s. this first edition will look at two missing from 1960 and whether they will ever be located.

Record Retailer April and May 1960

I need to set the scene before showing exactly which album charts are missing from the selection that otherwise provides an unbroken run from 1956 through to today.

The year is 1960 and Record Retailer has just gone weekly, after launching in 1959 as a monthly magazine. They begin, on 10th March, to publish a Top 50 singles chart, a Top 10 albums chart and a Top 10 EP chart, although these quickly expand to 20 places each. However, almost immediately, the magazine misses two weeks of publication almost one after the other. These are 30 April and 14 May and, the 8th and 10th weekly publications respectively.

Avid followers of the charts will find no mention of these missing weeks in any Guinness publication or any later work with two notable exceptions. These are the first Guinness Hit Albums Book from 1980 and the later Complete Books Of British Charts. And yet these weeks are missing as they where never published.

But they were compiled.

7 May and 21 May both feature charts with last week positions included, so these charts must exist. Indeed when the first book to publish the Singles charts was issued in 1991 by Guinness, they included the missing Singles charts as full Top 40’s (The Book only printed Top 40’s). Recently Graham Betts has been publishing the full weekly album charts in his series The Official Charts and he has likewise been unable to locate the full charts for these weeks exactly as printed.

The Singles charts exist. They have been compiled and published by Guinness so the missing 8 positions from 30 April and 10 from 14 May have been printed. Are they accurate? Well, all publications that follow Guinness used the same source – Guinness – so if they got it wrong, then no, but let’s assume they are correct. If Singles exist, why not Albums?

In the introduction to the first albums book, the Guinness authors make it clear that they don’t have those two missing album charts. 6 missing positions from 30 April and 5 from 14 May still remain missing.

Will these ever be found, without guesswork? Unlikely as, in 1980 the team at Guinness would have done their best to locate them and 40 years will only have diminished the chances rather than improved them.

So what charts have been published by Graham Betts then? He has the definitive and now accepted set of charts for this week based on, it must be said, guesswork, but informed guesswork about the nature of the charts and including looking at other album charts such as Melody Maker at help determine the positions.

While the originals are lost, we do indeed have something to help us work out roughly what was selling for those two weeks.

Readers may be interested in buying Graham’s book.

Verifying Data – Collecting The True Account

It’s always hard to work out exactly what is the true account, particularly after so many years have elapsed – and thats a statement that is true largely regardless of the field being researched. It’s more true with charts as it is almost always impossible to locate the original data sources. Let me explain…

How the chart are compiled

Charts are compiled by gathering sales data from retailers. They are compiled following various rules and then a verified list of the records, from 1 downwards, is created. This forms the lisiting that all publishers use when re-producing the chart in print form.

That explanation of chart compilation is as true today as it was in 1940 (when Billboard began) or in 1960 when Record Retailer began their chart or 1969 when the British Market Research Bureau began the first official chart in the UK. Whilst detail is lacking as to how each company compiled the chart, that explanation covers the points needed for this blog.

The compilers produced a listing of the records which is then sent to the magazines that publish the chart.

Creeping Errrors

This is the start of errors in printing as now the compiled listing (which is assumed to be correct although that in itself can be a source of errors as we have witnessed over the years) is typeset by the various publications into their own format. Sometimes this results in weeks when a chart was compiled but not printed as, say, Record Retailer had a week off but Record Mirror did not. We are not concerned with that here. We are concerned with other types of errors, because the typos in a title can have quite profound consequences. Suppose an artist has two albums – identically titled but different catalogue numbers? R.E.M. did this in 2003 with a special and a deluxe package, for example. A typo in the catalogue number could mean both are logged as the same entry at different positions. As the public don’t see the original listing, they wont know which is which.

Many of these are corrected the following week or before publication. But sometimes the error can be quite serious

Melody Maker 1973

Recently I’ve been adding the Melody Maker album charts to my database, a chart not previously researched and seemingly lacking research from other sources. The chart for 17 March 1973 presented a large problem when trying to work out which record should really be listed at joint 29. Deep Purple and Made In Japan (see below) is clear enough, but what do you make of the other entry?

These Top Of The Pops albums by Hallmark where all cover versions by unknown (unlisted) artists. Discogs lists 122 running from Volume 1 (1968) through to Volume 92 in 1985. They where a very cheap way to get possible versions of hit records and clearly sold in sufficient quantities to justify repeated issues (Rather like the Now! albums of the last 30 years).

So my question is this – which particular Top Of The Pops volume is this?

Guesswork Helps

Guesswork needs to be done to work out what the album really is. Release dates help a lot here, as they rule out various volumes and entries, but those release dates may be in error as well. This is where we turn to other chart sources, as Melody Maker was not the only chart compiler in the UK at this time – we have NME and the Official chart to look at.

Scans of the NME album charts are hard to come by, but fortunately they issued an Album book in 1995 (see below for an ebay search listing the book).

Turning to the week of 17 March 1973 I find the book is of no help – Top Of The Pops never charted that entire month!

Turning to the UK charts you wont find the Top Of The Pops albums listed (at least not in 1973) as they where definitely Mid Price selling albums and so where relighted to the Mid Price chart. I’ve recently been compiling this as well, but turning to the relevant week I find again nothing! The album simply did not chart in Mid Price on Record Retailer/Music Week.

This is now a problem… The album can’t be identified exactly so I really do have to guess here.

Volume 29

I ended up going for Volume 29 because Volume 28 had charted in February and Volume 30 charted in May. Equally, the track listing covers hits from Jan-Feb 1973 meaning that this seems about right.

Happy Ending?

Hopefully this ending is the right one, but it shows the type of issues faced with interpreting (in this case) 45 year old chart printouts. And thats assuming you actually have the scans to begin with. But thats another story…

New Book! And how they are put together

I issued a new book on Saturday for the Billboard Best Sellers In Stores Chart. (If your interested then a link to check out the page is here) and I thought I’d go through the process of putting it together. My last post talked about gathering the data I nave, so this one will talk a little more about checking and compiling that data.

It all starts with gathering the weekly charts themselves, either in picture form or as typed files. For many of the Best Sellers charts I obtained these originally as typed weekly charts so long ago that I’ve forgotten from where. They came as text files, and so I had to transfer them into my database. I’ll talk more about the database later, but below is an example of the files and how they appeared.

US Top 30 Best Sellers In Stores Week Ending 5th January, 1955

Issue Date 15th January, 1955

TW LW TITLE-Artist (Label)-Weeks on Chart (Peak Position)


The Chordettes (Cadence)-12 (8 weeks at #1) (1)


Joan Weber (Columbia)-7 (2)


The Ames Brothers (Columbia)-8 (3)


The Fontane Sisters (Dot)-6 (4)


The DeCastro Sisters (Abbott)-15 (3)

Now the first thing to do after entering was to verify the data was accurate. When copying direct from the original chart that was easy, as the data presented was normally completely correct, in terms of positions, but in the case of the text files I wanted to be sure.

I was very fortunate to discover, around about 2010, Google Books. Google have scanned almost all issues from 1942 to 2000 and made them available free of charge online (meaning you can do what I did if you want to). The archive can be found here, as well as in other places around the internet. One other source in more recent years has been the truly excellent and amazing American Radio History which currently has almost all issues from 1927 to 2015. For issues of all of these with missing pages or charts the British Library contains an almost complete run, and so I went there.

Armed now with pages of scans (The archive now runs to almost 200Gb and not just of Billboard charts) the process of checking each week can begin, and amending errors. This in itself is not without flaws, as sometimes the chart I had was right, corrected by a note in a future issue of Billboard, and I accidentally correct to the original error. But I progress through the changes and the checking.

This gives me Artist, Title, Label, Catalogue Number and sometimes B-Side (in the early days). Of course, that just gives me how Billboard printed the title and that was not always correct, which then meant each record has to be verified. 2,294 records made the Best Sellers In Stores chart. Each one needs to be found, duration noted, composer noted, correct titles noted, etc. Wikipedia, Discogs, iTunes (less so for this particularly chart) and 45cat have all been immensely useful.

Others have helped me immensely here, in verifying and checking data. I produce the ChartBookWeekly and a gentleman who has bought this, Jörg, has been very helpful in error correcting.

All this does mean that errors can still exist. I’d be foolish in the extreme to assume I had everything correct, and sometimes errors creep in, particularly in sorting of artists. One of the things I don’t do is distinguish whether a recording artist is a group or a solo artist and thats something I will be looking to add to the database over time (30,000 records currently in the database covering 1940-1971 and 500,000 positions with another 5 million positions to add from the old database into the new one.). That can lead to a sorting error and the slip of a finger can make Deep Purple appear under P rather than D. Happily, these are errors which are very easy to fix (annoyingly they cause me acute personal embarrassment when pointed out – but please don’t let that stop you from pointing them out!)

Once the data has been verified and weekly charts exist in the database, that’s when the export comes in – and thats for another post. Suffice to say, when I began re-building the database in December last year (It’s not entirely finished now) I went for something that could export quickly and easily – so creating the Best Sellers In Stores book physically took five minutes – after about 15 years (off and on) work to get to that stage. So, if you do buy a copy, I hope you enjoy it.