The Beatles Hit No. 1 on an Airplay Chart for the First Time in Over 50 Years


“Now and Then” claims the top spot on Adult Alternative Airplay.

The Beatles during a photo session in Twickenham on April 9, 1969.

Photo by Bruce McBroom / © Apple Corps Ltd.

It’s been more than half a century, but The Beatles are back at No. 1 on a Billboard airplay chart. “Now and Then” rises 2-1 on the Adult Alternative Airplay tally dated Dec. 9.

It’s The Beatles’ first No. 1 on the survey, which began in 1996. The band previously peaked at No. 11 with “Free as a Bird” that year.

The last time the group notched a No. 1 on a Billboard radio chart was 1970, when “Let It Be” (the Fab Four’s sole other airplay leader) ruled Adult Contemporary for four weeks beginning that April.

Of course, The Beatles boast their share of chart-toppers elsewhere, including a record 20 No. 1s on the Billboard Hot 100. Their final ruler to date also came in 1970 with two-week leader “The Long and Winding Road”/“For You Blue” that June. They have also earned a record 19 No. 1s on the Billboard 200 albums chart and rank at No. 1 on Billboard’s Greatest of All Time Artists chart.

The Beatles break the record for the most time between a first appearance on Adult Alternative Airplay and a first No. 1, as “Free as a Bird” ranked on the inaugural chart, dated Jan. 20, 1996.

Concurrently, “Now and Then” jumps 29-25 on the all-rock-format, audience-based Rock & Alternative Airplay chart with 1.4 million audience impressions, up 5%, according to Luminate.

On the most recently published Hot Rock & Alternative Songs list (dated Dec. 2), “Now and Then” placed at No. 14, after reaching No. 2. In addition to its radio airplay, the song earned 2.4 million official streams and sold 18,000 downloads and physical singles combined in the U.S. Nov. 17-23.

“Now and Then” is billed as The Beatles’ final song. It was recorded as a demo in 1977 by John Lennon and finished at last by surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, among others, after multiple attempts via new technology to extract Lennon’s vocals from the original demo, along with guitar parts from George Harrison. It’s included on the reissues of the group’s 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 compilations, initially released in 1973 and re-released Nov. 10.

As previously reported, “Now and Then” debuted at No. 7 on the Nov. 18-dated multimetric Hot 100, becoming The Beatles’ 35th top 10 – extending their record for the most among groups. It also expanded their span of Hot 100 top 10s to 59 years, nine months and three weeks – the longest excluding holiday fare, dating to their first week in the top 10 with their iconic U.S. breakthrough single “I Want To Hold Your Hand” in 1964.

All Billboard charts dated Dec. 9 will update on on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

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