Guinness Book of British Hit Singles: Wikis

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British Hit Singles & Albums was a music reference book published in the United Kingdom by HiT Entertainment's "Guinness World Records". It listed all the singles and albums featured in the Top 75 Charts in UK, as compiled by the editors of British Hit Singles & Albums. In 2004 the book became an amalgamation of two earlier Guinness publications, originally known as British Hit Singles and British Hit Albums and publication of this amalgamation ceased in 2008. A new version of the book published by Virgin Books, was entitled The Virgin Book of British Hit Singles. The first edition of The Virgin Book of British Hit Singles was published in November 2008.



British Hit Singles & Albums was generally considered to be the authoritative reference source for both the UK Singles Chart (since its inception in 1952) and the UK Albums Chart. It listed all the singles and albums ever to have been in UK Top 75 Charts, listing them in alphabetical order and by both artist and song title. The entries also included the date of chart entry, highest position, catalogue number and number of weeks in the chart. Short biographical notes accompanied many of the artists' chart details.

The book's sources are the New Musical Express chart from November 1952 to March 1960, and the Record Retailer (later Music Week) chart thereafter. It could be said that this division is misleading, since the Record Retailer chart was little known until it was adopted by the BBC in 1969 and that by adopting this chart as its standard, the editors had a non consensual view. An example often given is the case of The Beatles' second single Please Please Me which was recognised as a number one hit by every other publicly available chart of the time, but not by Record Retailer and therefore not by British Hit Singles. Other records to which this applies include "19th Nervous Breakdown" by The Rolling Stones, "Stranger On The Shore" Acker Bilk and the Eurovision Song Contest entry "Are You Sure" by The Allisons. Co-founder Jo Rice has defended the book's choice of source material on the grounds that Record Retailer was the only chart to consistently publish a Top 50 from 1960 onwards. This can be substantiated by the fact that charts published in the New Musical Express were of a shorter format and other chart listings such as those in Melody Maker, became less and less informative although they were probably more accurate. Subsequent research has shown that during the "disputed" period of the 1960s, the samples sizes of the Record Retailer chart were considerably inferior to those of the other charts: around 30 shops in 1963 in comparison to more than 100 used by Melody Maker, and later around 80 in comparison to NME's 150 and Melody Maker's 200. A result the placings in that chart were more open to error and manipulation - a situation further worsened by the larger number of records listed in the chart.


1977-1996 original editiors

The cover of the 1989 7th edition of the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles

The first edition was published as the The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles in July 1977. The founding editors were Paul Gambaccini, Tim Rice, Jonathan Rice, and Mike Read. Read left the team in the mid-1980s and the other editors resigned in 1996.

1997-2005 merger and collectors edition

This title was merged with its sister publication The Guinness Book of British Hit Albums in 2004 to form The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums. The eighteenth edition of the book (2005) was billed as a "Special Collector's Edition" as it featured detailed information on the 1,000 Number Ones in the UK Singles Chart from Al Martino's "Here in My Heart" on 14 November 1952 to Elvis Presley's "One Night / I Got Stung" (Limited Edition Collector's re-issue), January 22, 2005.

2006 19th edition

The nineteenth edition was published in June 2006. A series of compilation albums, with editorial notes based on the book, were released in association with Sony BMG three days later. The 19th edition included a list of the top 100 songwriters in British chart history. The book's last editor was David Roberts and its chart consultant was Dave McAleer.

2007 aborted 20th edition

Before June 2007, many followers of the book questioned on chart forums why Guinness have not announced a then forthcoming edition. Due to the event of adding any digital download to the chart compilation regardless if there is a physical format released or not, seen a long list of download-only hits. As a result Guinness then changed plans to release the book later in the year so these could be included in the book as soon as possible. However, the organisation later lost interest with chart reference books after their contract with the OCC expired, which saw that organisation sell the contract to Virgin.

Associated merchandise

In recent years a number of spin-off products have been launched under the same branding. These include compilation albums, annual trivia calendars and a DVD TV gameBritish Hit Singles & Albums No.1 Music Quiz, editions of which were released in both 2005 and 2006. The 2006 edition features over 1,200 questions and stars comedian Steve Furst as the host.


External links

References and further reading

  • Roberts, David. Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums. Guinness World Records Limited. 20th revised edition. (Jun 2007). ISBN 1904994105
  • Roberts, David. Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums. Guinness World Records Ltd 18th edition (May 2005) ISBN 1904994008
  • Roach, Martin. The Virgin Book of British Hit Singles. Virgin Books (Nov 2008). ISBN 0753515377

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