Skip to main content

UK Number One Songs of the 70s

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

The 1970s Number One Songs on Video

1970s popular music in the UK proved that variety is the spice of life, and the Number One hit songs of the decade reflect this phenomenon.

From 1970 onwards, the music scene in Britain changed dramatically and a myriad of musical styles reinforced the varying tastes of the average record buyer. Some of the most popular styles that took the British charts by storm were Glam Rock at the beginning of the decade, progressing to Disco and Punk Rock towards the end. In between saw novelty records, the progression of the rock single and the continuing evolution of teen pop, represented by the likes of David Cassidy, Donny Osmond and the Bay City Rollers.

Most of these styles and artists were very popular for a time, and their records sold by the shed load. To see the musical changes across the decade is a fascinating exercise, and so this page brings together all the Number One hits from the UK (some on video), together with a commentary regarding each one.

The source for this compilation is the Record Retailer/Music Week chart, which was broadcast by the BBC each Sunday evening.


UK Number One Hits of 1970

31st Jan (5 weeks) Edison Lighthouse - Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes): Only ever UK Number One for this studio act. Lead singer Tony Burrows also sang on hits for many other groups.

7th Mar (3 weeks) Lee Marvin - Wandrin' Star: Only UK Number One for this actor with a song from the film Paint Your Wagon.

28th Mar (3 weeks) Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water: Surprisingly, the duo's only ever UK Number One. Only Art Garfunkel sings on this classic, but Paul Simon went on to greater solo success, even though he never had a UK Number One again, while Garfunkel did.

18th Apr (2 weeks) Dana - All Kinds Of Everything: First Eurovision Song Contest winner for Ireland. Her chart career was short-lived and this was her only UK Number One.

2nd May (2 weeks) Norman Greenbaum - Spirit In The Sky: Only ever UK Number One for Greenbaum with a self-penned song. Doctor & The Medics took the track to Number One again in 1986.

16th May (3 weeks) England World Cup Squad - Back Home: Mexico World Cup Football sing-along by the 1970 England team.

6th Jun (1 week) Christie - Yellow River: Only ever UK Number One for Jeff Christie with a song he wrote for the Tremeloes. They turned it down, so he recorded it himself.

13th Jun (7 weeks) Mungo Jerry - In The Summertime: First UK Number One for this group led by Ray Dorset.

1st Aug (6 weeks) Elvis Presley - The Wonder Of You: Elvis revived his career in Las Vegas and this was a live recording from his show. At this point, he was only one behind the Beatles as this was his 16th UK Number One.

12th Sep (1 week) Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - Tears Of A Clown: First UK Number One for Motown singer Smokey Robinson who would have to wait another 11 years before hitting the top spot again.

19th Sep (6 weeks) Freda Payne - Band Of Gold: Only ever UK Number One for this American actress.

31st Oct (3 weeks) Matthews' Southern Comfort - Woodstock: Written by Canadian folk legend Joni Mitchell, MSC's only UK Number One was about the famous rock festival of 1969.

21st Nov (1 week) Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Chile: Posthumous Number One for the American guitar legend who died in London a couple of months earlier.

28th Nov (6 weeks) Dave Edmunds - I Hear You Knockin': Only ever UK Number One for Dave Edmunds who had further hit single success later in the Seventies.

Scroll to Continue

Edison Lighthouse

Simon & Garfunkel

Matthews' Southern Comfort

UK Number One Hits of 1971

January 5 ( 3 weeks) Clive Dunn - Grandad: The only UK Number One for this Dad's Army star who gained sales on the back of seasonal sentimentality.

January 26 (5 weeks) George Harrison - My Sweet Lord: First UK Number One for the ex-Beatle. Following the song's release, musical similarities between it and The Chiffons' hit He's So Fine led to a lengthy legal battle over the rights to the composition.

March 2 (2 weeks) Mungo Jerry - Baby Jump: Written by the group's lead vocalist and guitarist Ray Dorset, it was a maxi-single playing at 33rpm. Second and last Number One for the band.

March 16 (6 weeks) T. Rex - Hot Love: The group's first UK Number One. It fared less well in the USA where it peaked at Number 72. It was also the first T. Rex single to feature both a bass guitar and drums.

April 27 (2 weeks) Dave and Ansil Collins - Double Barrel: Jamaican duo who scored only the second West Indian reggae chart topper. It became the first reggae single to reach the Top 30 of the US Billboard Hot 100 peaking at number 22.

May 11 (5 weeks) Dawn - Knock Three Times: Tony Orlando had retired from singing when he was persuaded to front Dawn for studio recordings. Their first UK Number One.

June 15 (5 weeks) Middle of the Road - Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep: It nearly flopped in the UK as Mac and Katie Kissoon released a version just before. MOTR got the greater airplay and sold in bundles. The Kissoon's version reached number 20 on the US Billboard Hot 100, but failed to impress in the UK.

July 20 (4 weeks) T. Rex - Get It On: The second UK Number One from Marc Bolan's band, selling nearly a million copies. Re-titled Bang a Gong in the US, it peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at Number 10 in January 1972, becoming the group's only major US hit.

August 17 (4 weeks) Diana Ross - I'm Still Waiting: A first solo Number One for Diana Ross. It was a minor success in the US reaching Number 63 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

September 14 (3 weeks) The Tams - Hey Girl, Don't Bother Me: It was originally released in 1964 and became a minor hit on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching Number 41. It became a favourite on the Northern Soul scene in the UK which led to its Number One position.

October 5 (5 weeks) Rod Stewart - Maggie May: It was initially released in the UK as the B-side of the single Reason to Believe, but DJs preferred Maggie May and, after two weeks in the chart, the song became the A-side. It simultaneously topped the charts in the United States.

November 9 (4 weeks) Slade - Coz I Luv You: It was the band's second hit song in the UK and the first of six Number One singles.

December 7 (4 weeks) Benny Hill - Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West): Comedy single, the song concerned the fictional exploits of Ernie, a milkman who drove a horse-drawn milk cart and his war with the bread delivery man: Two-Ton Ted from Teddington.

T.Rex

Rod Stewart

Slade

UK Number One Hits of 1972

January 4 (4 weeks) The New Seekers - I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony): A 1971 Coca-Cola TV commercial featured young people from around the world singing on a hilltop and was so popular that the song (without the Coke references) became a hit in its own right. Another recording was issued by The Hillside Singers, but this failed to sell in the UK.

February 1 (2 weeks) T. Rex - Telegram Sam: Third UK Number One single for T. Rex., but it only reached Number 67 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

February 15 (3 weeks) Chicory Tip - Son of My Father: The first UK Number One single to prominently feature a synthesizer, in this case a Moog synthesizer. Originally a song by Giorgio Moroder, he re-recorded it shortly after, but it failed to chart in the UK, though it made the Top 50 in the United States.

March 7 (5 weeks) Harry Nilsson - Without You: Suicide inspired song written by two members of Badfinger, who both later committed suicide.

April 11 (5 weeks) The Pipes & Drums & Military Band of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards - Amazing Grace: The old favourite traditional hymn as played by this Scottish military bagpipe band. It was the best-selling single of the year in the UK.

May 16 (4 weeks) T. Rex - Metal Guru: Apparently, the song is about a car and became the group's fourth and final UK Number One. It did not chart in the USA.

June 13 (2 weeks) Don McLean - Vincent: Don McLean wrote this song as a tribute to artist Vincent Van Gogh. It reached Number 12 in the US.

June 27 (1 week) Slade - Take Me Bak 'Ome: Second UK Number One for the glam rockers, featuring Noddy Holder on vocals.

July 4 (5 weeks) Donny Osmond - Puppy Love: Revival of the song written and recorded by Paul Anka in the '60s, this was Osmond's first UK Number One.

August 8 (3 weeks) Alice Cooper - School's Out: Only ever UK Number One for shock rocker Alice Cooper with this classic rock tune.

August 29 (1 week) Rod Stewart - You Wear It Well: From the album Never a Dull Moment, this was Rod's second UK Number One.

September 5 (3 weeks) Slade - Mama Weer All Crazee Now: Slade was on a roll! This was their third Number One single in a matter of months.

September 26 (2 weeks) David Cassidy - How Can I Be Sure?: First UK Number One for this star of US TV series The Partridge Family. His solo career was more successful in the UK than at home.

October 10 (4 weeks) Lieutenant Pigeon - Mouldy Old Dough: It is the only UK Number One single to feature mother and son and became one of the more unusual chart topping singles of the 1970s. It sold 790,000 copies and was the third biggest selling single of 1972.

November 7 (2 weeks) Gilbert O'Sullivan - Clair: First UK Number One for this Irishman who dressed as a 1920s worker in a flat cap, braces and baggy trousers.

November 21 (4 weeks) Chuck Berry - My Ding-a-Ling: Pioneer of R&B and rock 'n' roll, whose only UK Number One was this live, innuendo-laden novelty song recorded in Coventry, England.

December 19 (5 weeks) Little Jimmy Osmond - Long Haired Lover From Liverpool: Jimmy became the youngest person to ever reach Number One on the UK singles chart aged 9 years 8 months. Often cited as one of the worst singles to get to Number One.

Nilsson

Don McLean

Alice Cooper

UK Number One Hits of 1973

January 23 (5 weeks) The Sweet - Blockbuster!: It made Number One in the Netherlands, Germany and Ireland, but fared less well in the USA where it peaked at Number 73 on the Billboard Hot 100. Plenty of No. 2 singles for The Sweet, but this was their only Number One.

February 26 (4 weeks) Slade - Cum on Feel the Noize: Slade's fourth Number One single in the UK and the first to enter straight at the top. Revived in 1983 by Heavy Metal band Quiet Riot, their version went on to peak at Number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 that November.

March 26 (1 week) Donny Osmond - The Twelfth of Never: Popular song originally recorded by Johnny Mathis. Osmond's version spent a single week at Number One, while in the USA it peaked at Number 8.

April 3 (2 weeks) Gilbert O'Sullivan - Get Down: Second and final Number One for the Irishman, who had a handful of other Top 20 hits.

April 15 (4 weeks) Dawn featuring Tony Orlando - Tie A Yellow Ribbon 'Round The Ole Oak Tree: The best selling single of 1973 in the UK. It sold shed loads in the USA too, where it also hit the top spot of the singles chart.

May 13 (4 weeks) Wizzard - See My Baby Jive: Written and produced by bandleader Roy Wood, the record owes much to Phil Spector's Wall of Sound.

June 12 (1 week) Suzi Quatro - Can the Can: Can the Can was the second single by Quatro and her first to reach Number One. It also reached Number One on the Japanese, European and Australian charts in whose market Quatro achieved her most consistent success throughout her career as a recording artist.

June 19 (1 week) 10cc - Rubber Bullets: The band's first Number One single in the United Kingdom, being a tongue in cheek homage to the movie Jailhouse Rock.

June 26 (3 weeks) Slade - Skweeze Me Pleeze Me: Fifth Number One single for Slade.

July 17 (1 week) Peters and Lee - Welcome Home: The duo's only Number One single coming after their success on the TV talent show Opportunity Knocks.

July 24 (4 weeks) Gary Glitter - I'm the Leader of the Gang (I Am): The song is a glam rock anthem, typical of (the now-disgraced) Glitter's early seventies recordings.

August 21 (4 weeks) Donny Osmond - Young Love: The oft recorded ballad gave the teen heartthrob yet another best selling single.

September 18 (1 week) Wizzard - Angel Fingers: Wizzard's second UK Number One single. Stylistically, it continued in the same Phil Spector-influenced Wall of Sound genre as their earlier hit See My Baby Jive.

September 25 (4 weeks) Simon Park Orchestra - Eye Level (Theme From Van Der Valk): The tune became very popular with TV audiences and, in a move which was unusual at the time for television themes, Columbia Records issued it on a single record. Total sales were 1,005,500.

October 23 (3 weeks) David Cassidy - Daydreamer/The Puppy Song: This was Cassidy's second and final Number One single in the UK.

November 13 (4 weeks) Gary Glitter - I Love You Love Me Love: Glitter's second UK Number One single.

December 11 (5 weeks) Slade - Merry Xmas Everybody: The band's sixth and final Number One single in the UK. The song continues to re-enter the UK Top 75 singles chart every Christmas, selling over one million copies in the process.

The Sweet

Wizzard

Suzi Quatro

UK Number One Hits of 1974

January 15 (1 week) The New Seekers - You Won't Find Another Fool Like Me: The band's second and final Number One single.

January 22 (4 weeks) Mud - Tiger Feet: First Number One song for the very popular Glam Rockers and the biggest selling track of the year.

February 19 (2 weeks) Suzi Quatro - Devil Gate Drive: It was the second Number One in a row for the ChinniChap writing and production team and Quatro's second UK Number One.

March 5 (1 week) Alvin Stardust - Jealous Mind: Only Number One from the moody Stardust - born Bernard Jewry.

March 12 (3 weeks) Paper Lace - Billy Don't Be a Hero: Paper Lace had the chart-topper in the UK, but their version stalled at Number 96 on the Billboard Hot 100. Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods took the song to Number One in the USA.

April 2 (4 weeks) Terry Jacks - Seasons in the Sun: The recording was based on a song called Le Moribond (The Dying Man) by Jacques Brel. The song had been recorded by The Fortunes in 1968 and by Pearls Before Swine in 1970 - but became a worldwide hit for Terry Jacks.

April 30 (2 weeks) ABBA - Waterloo: This was the song that won ABBA the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest and began their path to worldwide fame.

May 14 (4 weeks) The Rubettes - Sugar Baby Love: Debut single for this band that was originally offered to Carl Wayne to record, but he turned it down.

June 11 (1 week) Ray Stevens - The Streak: Single that capitalized on the then popular craze of streaking.

June 18 (1 week) Gary Glitter - Always Yours: Glitter's third and final Number One single in the UK.

June 25 (4 weeks) Charles Aznavour - She: The song was recorded by Aznavour in several different languages, namely French, Italian, Spanish and German. Elvis Costello recorded a cover version in 1999.

July 23 (3 weeks) George McCrae - Rock Your Baby: One of the landmark recordings of early Disco music. In total it sold over 11 million copies internationally.

August 13 (2 weeks) The Three Degrees - When Will I See You Again: One of the most successful recordings in the Philly Soul sound. It sold 28 million copies in total internationally.

August 27 (3 weeks) The Osmonds - Love Me For A Reason: Written by Johnny Bristol, the song was revived by Boyzone in 1994, becoming their breakthrough single in the UK.

September 17 (3 weeks) Carl Douglas - Kung Fu Fighting: Recorded in 10 minutes as a B-side, it sold 10 million worldwide and was his only ever UK Number One.

October 8 (1 week) John Denver - Annie's Song: This was Denver's only solo hit in the UK - an ode to Denver's then-wife, Annie Denver

October 15 (1 week) Sweet Sensation - Sad Sweet Dreamer: The second single from the British soul group, reaching number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 the following spring.

October 22 (3 weeks) Ken Boothe - Everything I Own: Jamaican reggae artist with a song by David Gates of Bread. The Bread version only made No.32 in the UK, but Boy George took the song to Number One again in 1987.

November 12 (3 weeks) David Essex - Gonna Make You A Star: A first UK Number One for David Essex. He found stardom as an actor before breaking into the charts with Rock On.

December 3 (2 weeks) Barry White - You're the First, the Last, My Everything: Originally written as a country song with the title You're My First, You're My Last, My In-Between, this was White's only UK Number One.

December 17 (4 weeks) Mud - Lonely This Christmas: Another classic Christmas favourite that is still seasonally popular each year in the UK.

Alvin Stardust