BILLBOARD.COM – After 45-Year Wait, James Earns His First No. 1 Album on Billboard 200 Chart
After a 45-year wait, legendary singer/songwriter James Taylor has earned his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart with Before This World. The album, which was released on June 16 through Concord Records, arrives atop the chart dated July 4 — more than 45 years after Taylor arrived on the list with Sweet Baby James (on the March 14, 1970 list).
The new album launches atop the Billboard 200 with 97,000 equivalent album units earned in the week ending June 21, according to Nielsen Music. Of its start, pure album sales equated to 96,000 copies sold — Taylor’s best debut week for an album since his last studio effort, 2002’s October Road, launched at No. 4 with 154,000 sold.
The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week based on multi-metric consumption, which includes traditional album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA).
Taylor surpasses Black Sabbath for the second-longest wait for a No. 1 — the rock band’s first chart-topper, 2013’s 13, came 43 years after their self-titled debut bowed on Aug. 29, 1970. Tony Bennett’s 54-year wait for his first No. 1 remains the longest — between the Feb. 23, 1957 debut of Tony and the No. 1 launch of Duets II on Oct. 8, 2011.
Notably, Taylor achieves his first No. 1 after racking up a staggering 11 previous top 10-charting albums. Among all acts, only Neil Diamond accrued more top 10s before his first No. 1: 14 leading up to the chart-topping bow of 2008’s Home Before Dark.
Taylor’s fruitful chart career before his first No. 1 can be compared to other acts that have tallied major chart success — but have fallen short of a No. 1. For example, rock band Rush and conductor Ray Conniff have each clocked 12 top 10 albums without topping the list. They are tied for the most top 10s without a No. 1.
Other acts without a No. 1 — but with a bevy of top 10s — include Sting, The Who (both with 10 top 10s), 311, Brad Paisley, Brooks & Dunn, Kiss and Sheryl Crow (all with nine each).
Although Taylor lacked a No. 1 album until this week, he has earned a chart-topping single on the Billboard Hot 100: “You’ve Got a Friend.” The tune topped the Hot 100 for one week on July 31, 1971. It’s one of 21 Hot 100 hits for the singer.