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List of Billboard number-one rhythm and blues hits

Listed here are Billboard magazine's number-one rhythm and blues hits from 1942 to 1959. The Billboard R&B chart is today known as the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

From May 22, 1948 to October 13, 1958, multiple charts were published, which explains the overlap in the dates of the charts. The 1942 "Harlem Hit Parade" chart, based on juke box plays, became the "Race Records Juke Box" chart in 1945, and the "Race Record Best Sellers" chart, based on sales, began in parallel in 1948. They were renamed as R&B charts in 1949. A third, "Jockeys" chart, based on radio airplay, was introduced in 1955, and a unified chart was only introduced in 1958. Because of the existence of multiple charts, some dates had more than one number-one song during the week.[1]

Chart namesEdit

  • Harlem Hit Parade — 1942 to February 10, 1945.
  • Juke Box Race Records — February 17, 1945 to June 17, 1957.
  • Billboard's "Best Sellers" — May 22, 1948 to October 13, 1958.
  • Rhythm & Blues — June 25, 1949 to November 30, 1963.
  • Billboard's "Jockeys" — January 22, 1955 to October 13, 1958.
  • Hot R&B —; October 20, 1958 to November 30, 1963. Reinstated January 30, 1965 and continued under that name until the week ending August 16, 1969.
  • Soul Singles — August 23, 1969 to July 7, 1973.
  • Hot Soul Singles — July 14, 1973 to June 19, 1982.
  • Hot Black Singles — June 26, 1982 to October 1990.
  • Hot R&B Singles — October 1990 to 1998.
  • Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs — 1998 to present.

An asterisk after a song title means that the song lost and then regained the number-one spot.













For 1960 to present, start here.

Gap in the chartEdit

From November 30, 1963 to January 23, 1965 there was no Billboard R&B singles chart. Some publications have used Cash Box magazine's stats in their place. No specific reason has ever been given as to why Billboard ceased releasing R&B charts, but the prevailing wisdom is that the chart methodology used was being questioned, since more and more Caucasian acts were reaching number-one on the R&B chart. According to researcher Joel Whitburn, "there was so much crossover of titles between the R&B and pop singles (Hot 100) charts that Billboard considered the charts to be too similar. This does not mean that R&B artists stopped turning out hits. After all, it was during this 14-month period that Motown established itself as an R&B institution."[2]


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. xi-xiv. ISBN 0-89820-115-2.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. xiii.