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The Top 10 Songs of 1970 in the UK

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Richard is a freelance writer and blogger who enjoys all forms of entertainment, including movies, music, and television.

1970-uksingles

The UK's Top 10 Best Selling Songs of 1970

The UK's Top 10 best selling songs of 1970 certainly made for strange companions considering what music was on offer during this particular year.

You probably could not create a list of ten songs as diverse as those that captured the attention of the record buying public during 1970. Who would have thought that rock band Free, Lee Marvin and Elvis Presley could end up appearing on the same countdown? But, that is exactly what happened.

Note that these songs have not been picked as my favourites of this year, but to show which records sold the most during 1970.

Elvis Presley: The Wonder of You

1970s best selling song in the UK was this track by Elvis Presley.

In the USA, it peaked at Number 9 in the spring of 1970, but The Wonder of You topped the UK Singles Chart for six weeks in the summer of that year. This was the 59th Top 40 hit of his career.

The Wonder of You was one of about thirty five songs he would play live in concert, never recording it in a studio. It was the first of three songs that were recorded live in concert in Las Vegas during his lifetime.

Christie: Yellow River

Yellow River became a massive international hit, reaching Number 1 on the UK music chart for a single week in June 1970. It also entered the American charts, peaking at a respectable Number 23.

Originally recorded by The Tremeloes, it was the group's intention to release it as their latest single, but then decided the song was not in keeping with the direction they wanted to follow.

Christie recorded vocals over the original backing track and, as they say, the rest is history.


Mungo Jerry: In the Summertime

The first ever single from Mungo Jerry became the band's biggest selling song, hitting the top of the charts worldwide. In the UK alone, In the Summertime remained at Number 1 for a staggering seven weeks, while it is now estimated to have global sales of more than six million copies.

Although the song peaked at Number 3 in the States, this was the band's only hit on their shores, although more were to come in their native UK and elsewhere around the world.


Freda Payne: Band of Gold

Band of Gold was written by the Motown songwriting team of Holland/Dozier/Holland and became a smash hit in 1970.

It peaked at Number 3 in the US and hit Number 1 on the UK Singles Chart, staying there for six weeks in September 1970, giving Payne her first gold record.

The song has been covered by numerous artists since, notably dueling 1986 versions by singers Belinda Carlisle and Bonnie Tyler, and a 2007 version by American Idol contestant, Kimberley Locke.

Shirley Bassey: Something

Something was originally recorded by The Beatles and became a Number One hit for the group in the US, as well as a Top 10 record in the UK.

Many artists have recorded the George Harrison song over the years, but one of the most commercially successful covers was by Dame Shirley Bassey in 1970.

Her version peaked at Number 4 in August, 1970 but remained on the UK charts for 22 weeks, thereby selling enough copies to make the disc the fifth best seller of the year.

Lee Marvin: Wand'rin' Star

Wand'rin' Star was a UK Number 1 song for Lee Marvin for three weeks in March 1970.

It was originally written for the stage musical Paint Your Wagon in 1951. When the film of the musical was made in 1969, Lee Marvin took the role of prospector Ben Rumson.

Despite the film being a box office flop, the soundtrack became a success.

Orchestrated and arranged by Nelson Riddle, Marvin's version of the song Wand'rin Star becoming an unlikely Number 1 song in the UK, famously keeping The Beatles at Number 2 with their song Let It Be. Marvin never released a follow-up single, so he is now classed as a One Hit Wonder.

Norman Greenbaum: Spirit In The Sky

Spirit in the Sky sold two million copies in 1969 and 1970 and peaked at Number 3 on the US Billboard chart, as well as Number 1 on the UK, Australian and Canadian charts.

Rolling Stone ranked Spirit in the Sky Number 333 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Cover versions by Doctor and the Medics and Gareth Gates have also made the Number 1 spot in the UK.

Simon & Garfunkel: Bridge Over Troubled Water

The song that won many of the plaudits during 1970 and essentially split the professional partnership of Simon and Garfunkel was the now classic Bridge Over Troubled Water.

It peaked at Number 1 in the US at the end of February and remained there for a total of six weeks, eventually becoming the biggest seller of the year on the Billboard chart. It repeated the feat in the UK a month later, staying at the top of the British charts for three weeks. It also won the Grammys for Record and Song of the Year

Aside from the single, its parent album was a permanent fixture on music charts around the world for the first half of the decade and like the 45 was honoured with a Grammy.

England World Cup Squad 1970: Back Home

One of the biggest sporting events of the year was the football World Cup in which England was defending its title.

This was the first of the World Cup songs to celebrate the participation of the England squad and duly went to Number 1 in the charts during May for three weeks.

Unfortunately, the team was not as successful on the pitch, as England was eliminated in the quarter-final stages by Germany.


Free: All Right Now

All Right Now was released in the summer of 1970 and hit Number 2 on the UK Singles Chart and Number 4 on the US charts. The song originally appeared on the album Fire And Water and in 1991 was remixed and re-released, reaching Number 8 on the UK Singles Chart.

It was a Number 1 hit in over 20 countries and in 2000 an award was given to group member Paul Rodgers by the British Music Industry when the song passed 2,000,000 plus radio plays in the UK.

The 1970 Top Ten Poll

Meanwhile, in the United States...

The Top 10 Best Selling Songs in the USA: 1970

ArtistSong

1. Simon and Garfunkel

Bridge Over Troubled Water

2. The Carpenters

(They Long to Be) Close to You

3. Guess Who

American Woman / No Sugar Tonight

4. B.J. Thomas

Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head

5. Edwin Starr

War

6. Diana Ross

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

7. The Jackson 5

I'll Be There

8. Rare Earth

Get Ready

9. The Beatles

Let It Be

10. Freda Payne

Band of Gold

Major Grammy Winners of 1970

  • Record of the Year
    • Bridge over Troubled Water
  • Album of the Year
    • Bridge over Troubled Water performed by Simon & Garfunkel
  • Song of the Year
    • Bridge over Troubled Water performed by Simon & Garfunkel
  • Best New Artist
    • The Carpenters

About Your Author

With each article, Richard invites you to step into his world of music, television and entertainment. He will introduce you to British Glam Rock, share The 20 Scariest Film Scores Ever? and even give you an up close look at some classic actors such as Christopher Lee as Dracula.

For a complete list of Richard's articles, please visit Richard's profile.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2007 Richard

Your Thoughts on the Music of 1970

Sara Valor from Breezy Hills on April 24, 2011:

Grew up with it stateside and in Europe, just love 70s music and 70s songs. But, of course, I do like all sorts of music.

Steve Arun on February 21, 2011:

Fantastic lens, Yes lot of unforgettable music in 1970. Thanks!

outsource123 on January 30, 2011:

Great lens for Music lovers. Good Work.

Amy Fricano from WNY on September 27, 2010:

Lee Marvin was my surprise. Great stuff.

Joan4 on May 12, 2010:

super music! enjoyed remembering!

James20 on July 22, 2008:

Hi,

A fun lens to look at. I did pick the song Spirit In The Sky even though there is one line in it that should have been different.

5*****

I lensroll this into my number one songs of 1970 lens.

James

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