The Top 25 Artists with the most Tributes (Recorded Songs/Albums/Concerts)

  1. The Beatles. No surprise to anyone I am sure. There isn’t much of a question here, for those wishing to give hommage à nos héros musicaux (tribute to our musical heroes) that’s from Google Translate, probably bad French but “hommage” didn’t seem pithy enough. The Beatles offer plenty of choices to be celebrated. According to The Beatles Bible there are 41 complete discographies from around the world. Why so many? The release of singles and albums was often different from country to country so the source material varies, not to mention the language translations and artwork. Yes the songs are the same but to your average discophile it’s a dream come true. The important point here is it really shows their international reach. They appeared in five major movies, there are at least 20 documentaries, and over 40 films that were either inspired by them or have some fictional account. I read there may be over 2,000 books about them, I saw a list titled 100 Best Beatles Books of All Time, this gives you an idea as to how many might be out there. What this means is that there is a wellspring from around the world available to inspire a producer, artist or a group of artists to make a tribute song, a complete album or a concert/show dedicated to The Beatles. Not to mention the theatrical shows, Cover Bands, and Symphonic performances around the world, these numbers are untolled. In fact I had recently planned on attending one such show with some of my siblings, my health had other ideas but apparently it was magical. Recording artists as well want to sing The Beatles songs. lists 204 songs that have been covered by 9,154 artists with 21,896 covers. They are also the world’s most covered performers and individually; John (#31) and Paul (#44) are on this same tribute list. Plus they both lead all songwriters of any genre for the most covered songs. Doing a cover of an original song is a tribute of another kind. All these things offered enough incentive for the creation of a total of 801 Tributes. You can check this Wiki link for more info.
  2. Elvis Presley 383. Surprise! The King of Rock & Roll is #2. “Jailhouse Rock”, “Don’t Be Cruel”, just one example, The Embassy Records Story – A Tribute To Elvis Presley.
  3. Duke Ellington 259. A prolific composer,”It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)”
  4. George Gershwin 233. Composer of such classics as “Summertime” and “Embraceable You”
  5. Bob Dylan 229. Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016, “The Times They Are a Changin'”
  6. Cole Porter 194. American composer of “Night and Day”, “Love for Sale”, “True Love”
  7. Thelonious Monk 189. Iconic Jazz artist and the King of be-bop. “Straight No Chaser”
  8. Antônio Carlos Jobim 149. Brazilian legend, “Girl from Ipanema” and “Corcovado”
  9. Frank Sinatra 122. Because he is Frank. “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” his biggest original hit
  10. Burt Bacharach 111. So many iconic songs with lyricist Hal David, “The Look of Love”
  11. Frank Zappa 108. Experimental artist, R&R Hall of Fame, “Peaches en regalia”
  12. The Rolling Stones 107. Iconic Rock and Roll band, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
  13. Richard Rogers 103. Influential Composer, “My Funny Valentine”, “My Favorite Things”
  14. David Bowie 109. Songwriter, performance chameleon, “Space Oddity”, “Heroes”
  15. Evert Taube 97. Sailor and Swedish Balladeer and a cultural icon.
  16. ABBA 96. Swedens biggest export and one of world’s leading groups “Dancing Queen”, “SOS”
  17. Irving Berlin 93. Born in Belarus, settled in New York, “White Christmas”, “Cheek to Cheek”
  18. Kurt Weill 91. German composer that created The Threepenny Opera and “Mack the Knife” with Bertolt Brecht who is #65 on this list with 49 Tributes.
  19. Billie Holiday 90. Iconic voice and symbol, “Strange Fruit”, “God Bless the Child”
  20. Scott Joplin 90. The son of a Slave became the King of Ragtime, “The Entertainer” from 1902.
  21. Johnny Cash 88. The man in black, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “I Walk the Line”, “Big River”
  22. Depeche Mode 88. Another export from England, Synth-Pop and Dance “Enjoy the Silence”
  23. Hank Williams 85. Country Music icon and Songwriter, “Jambalaya”, “Your Cheatin’ Heart”
  24. Queen 84. Still going strong without Freddie, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “We are the Champions”
  25. Pink Floyd 82. One of the most influential Rock bands, “Wish You Were Here”, “Money”

There were not a lot of surprises on the list and the only name I didn’t recognize was Evert Taube who was Sweden’s foremost troubadour. If you go down to #100 on the list it is Andrew Lloyd Webber, and as the list continues you find these are all very well known artists and composers. It’s hard not to notice there are only two mentions of women on the top 25 list, one half of ABBA and Billie Holiday. Working down the list; Joni Mitchell is #35, Madonna is #50, Taylor Swift #70, Édith Piaf #81, The Carpenters (Karen) #98 and Fleetwood Mac (Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks) #99. So that’s 11 names out of 100. The next 100 has 12 women. What is unseen and often uncredited are roles women played in the success of men. One example is Helene Weigel who was a long time “silent collaborator” with Bertolt Brecht, as to what extent we do not know, later she would become his second wife but only received one writing credit that I could find. Just an observation. I mean, no one has control over this list, it is however a reflection of the historic culture that surrounds music.

Based on stats collected around April 13, 2023.

References: 1,2, 3

Hit Me Again!

The Top 5 Songs with the most charted hits

  1. “Unchained Melody” has 22 charted versions making it by far and away the number one song on the list. It was written by Hy Zaret and Alex North for the Movie Unchained (1955) and it was performed by Todd Duncan. On the week ending April 2, 1955, it hit with Al Hibbler #19 (peak #5) and Les Baxter #20 (peak #2), less than three weeks later Roy Hamilton hit #14 (peak #9). Also that year June Vali would hit #29 and Jimmy Young with Bob Sharples hit #1 in the UK. In 1963 Vito & The Salutations hit #66, in 1964 in the UK Jimmy Young was back again with The Mike Sammes Singers reaching #43. Then the big one in 1965 that was credited to The Righteous Brothers but it was a solo effort by Bobby Hatfield, reaching #4 in the US and #14 in the UK in 1965. David Garrick hit #14 in The Netherlands in 1967, The Sweet Inspirations #73 in 1968, Blue Haze hit #7 in Belgium in 1972, a Live version by Elvis Presley hit #6 in Canada and the US Country chart. Heart reached #83 in 1980. Leo Sayer hit #54 in 1985. After it was used in the movie Ghost the Righteous Brother/Hatfield song hit #1 on the Adult Contemporary (A/C) in the US #14 Hot 100 and#1 on the UK Singles chart in 1990. It would appear on 14 other charts around the world reaching anywhere from #24 to #1. The Robson & Jerome version hit #1 in the UK in 1995. LeAnn Rimes hit #3 on the Country chart in 1997. Pop Idol contestant Gareth Gates hit #1 in the UK in 2002. Barry Manilow hit #20 on the US A/C in 2006 and in 2013 Harrison Craig reached #2 in Australia. If you think the song might be slowing down there have been over a dozen versions since 2020 and there are currently 592 versions of the song.
  2. Everlasting Love” has 12 charted versions. It was written by Buzz Cason and Mac Gayden and first recorded by Robert Knight in 1967, reaching #13 in the US and #19 in the UK, that same year The Love Affair released it and it hit #1 in the UK in 1968, followed by The Town Criers at #13 in Australia. Carl Carlton #6 in the US in 1974, Rex Smith and Rachel Sweet hit with it as did Sandra in her native Germany as well #8 in the Netherlands in 1987; Also charting were Worlds Apart in 1993, Gloria Estefan in 1995, a charity version by the cast from the UK series Casualty hit in 1998, Jamie Cullum hit #20 in the UK in 2004, and finally Willy Sommers charted in The Netherlands with a Dutch version in 2011. There are 72 versions of the song.
  3. I Only Want to be with You” has 7 charted versions. The song was written by Mike Hawker and Ivor Raymonde and in 1964 Dusty Springfield charted #4 in the UK and #12 in the US. The Bay City Rollers had the same chart positions in 1976. The Tourists also hit #4 but only #83 in the US. Nicolette Larson charted #53 in the US in 1982, the 1998 version by Samantha Fox charted across Europe, Australia and New Zealand, #16 in the UK #32 in the US. There are 144 versions of this song.
  4. My Melancholy Baby” has 6 charted versions. Some trickery by the record company on the song credits but it was written by Ernie Burnett and Maybelle Watson (who successfully sued for royalties in 1940) with revised lyrics by George A. Norton. The first recording in 1915 by Walter Scanlon was a ‘hit’ song though there were no charts at that time. Gene Austin was #3 in the US in 1928, Al Bowlly #20 in 1935, the following year Ella Fitzgerald hit #6 in the UK, the last one was Bing Crosby in 1939 who hit #14 but the song has been recorded well over 100 time since then for a total of 385 versions.
  5. Send Me the Pillow You Dream On” and “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” have 5 charted versions. The first song was written by Hank Locklin and his version reached #7 on the Country and Western chart in 1949, followed by Lydia and Her Melody Strings in 1959, The Browns in 1960, Johnny Tillotson in 1962 and finally Dean Martin in 1964, recorded dozens more time since then there are 134 versions. The second song “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” was written by Barrett Strong, Norman Whitfield the first release was Gladys Knight & The Pips who charted #2 in 1967, Marvin Gaye charted #1 in both the US and UK in 1968, Creedence Clearwater Revival charted in Europe in 1970, Roger (Troutman) hit #1 on the R&B in 1981. The last ones to chart were the Soultans in Europe in 1997. There are 278 versions of the song.

There are over a dozen songs with four charted versions, and I know you are expecting it and yes “I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton is there as well as “Sunny” by Bobby Hebb and “Without You” by Badfinger written by Tom Evans and Pete Ham.

Statistics from

References: 1, 2, 3

The Most Covered Songs by Women

Let me say right off the start that I think it is unfortunate that I have to write a separate piece on the most covered songs. The music industry really forces our hand in this regard. If we are looking at how women are represented and in general poorly recognized, cover songs are a reflection of that in many ways. Without taking too much time you can see that women are on the short end of the drum stick when it comes to prominent songwriters. If the most celebrated names are male, then the most covered songs will come from this source. Now, I am a big Beatles fan and I like most of names you find on the cover lists that I create. However they are heavily skewed toward men. I do realize we have to look at the bias that brought us here in the first place, again I take nothing away from the obvious talents of the men at the top, but there are worthy women who don’t get the same exposure.

When I research cover songs, there are a number of ways to look at the data. As I always do, I’m relying on for the information. Following the format of my periodic update on Pop Cover Songs, if I work down the list of The most covered songs written by a ‘singer/songwriter/recording artist‘. Currently the only woman on the top 10 list is Carole King, who is currently at #8 with 182 of the songs that she wrote or co-wrote having at least one cover version. The next category is The most cover versions combined. Again the only women on the top 10 list is Carole King with 3,382 versions of songs she has written. The third major category is The top 20 most covered Pop singles. The only female songwriter on the top 20 list is co-writer Billie Holiday at #18 with her song “God Bless the Child” having been covered 501 times.

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The Top 20 Most Covered Country Songs of all time (#11-15)

11. “Ring of Fire” was first recorded by Anita Carter and was written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore. Recorded in late 1962 it appeared on Anita Carter Sings Folk Songs Old and New that came out in December. It was released as a single early in 1963. The original title is “(Love’s) Ring of Fire”, and I think it should be noted that Anita was a bona fide recording artist with several charted songs, outside of her work with the Legendary Carter Family.  Johnny’s ex-wife Vivian had stated that it was Johnny that wrote the song and gave songwriting credit to June and allowed Anita to record it first. June Carter however had a completely different story and provides a solid background as to how she came up with the song.

Johnny held back on releasing the song until it was clear Anita’s effort was not going to be a hit and in fact it did not chart at all. Cash had a dream about adding what he referred to as “Mexican style trumpets” to the music. Johnny Cash (link with lyrics) recorded it April 19, 1963 and it went to #1 on the Hot 100 Country singles chart for the week ending July 27 and stayed there for seven weeks. It also reached #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart. Classic Cash with a dynamic take on the song. There are currently 325 versions of this song. To my knowledge the only Country version to chart was Alan Jackson at #45 in 2010. Eric Burdon and The Animals charted in Europe, South Africa and Australia in 1969. Personally I’m partial to Dwight Yoakam’s take that originally appeared on an EP in 1984 but was a key part of Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. reaching #1 on the Country Album chart in 1986. This song is still recorded a few times every year and it is in nine different languages, there are a few dozen instrumentals as well.

12. “Take Me Home Country Roads” by John Denver of course, it was co-written with Bill Danoff (Afternoon Delight) and his wife and fellow member of the Starland Vocal Band, Taffy Nivert. In truth Danoff was the one who came up with the core lyrics, based on his own personal experiences. Released as a single in May 1971 it would peak at #1 on Cashbox and #2 on Billboard in the US and #5 on the UK singles chart. Denver was a burgeoning Folk artist and the song was received as more of a Folk Pop song as it only reached #50 on the Country Hot 100. However, with the very first covers by Superstars Loretta Lynn and Lynn Anderson, other Country stars would follow such as Tennessee Ernie Ford, The Statler Brothers, The Carter Family, The Mercey Brothers and Skeeter Davis all within two years of the original. It is one of many songs that straddle genres. I think if you asked most people they would say its a Country Song, and the vast majority of artists doing it are from the Country genre.

There 330 versions of the song and it was covered nine times in the first year. In 1972 Olivia Newton John (a hit in the UK in 1973) did her version, one of 23 recorded that year. Rarely have I seen that many renditions of a song done in one year. No song of course is in the stratosphere of “Yesterday” that clocked 64 versions in 1966. As noted above, joining John in 1972 were Ray Charles (who did many Country songs), Toots and the Maytals did a modified Reggae take on the song and Felicia from Hong Kong had a version on her album of cover songs. The original song title was actually Rhododendron which is the State flower of West Virginia, where it is one of four official State songs.

13. “Green, Green Grass of Home” was written by the brilliant Curly Putnam. If you don’t know the name, he was the inspiration for the Paul McCartney song “Junior’s Farm” after he and Linda wrote it during a stay at his farm in Tennessee in 1974. Putnam has written or co-written too many songs to list but some of the more notable are; “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” a huge hit for Tammy Wynette and he wrote one for her (sometimes) husband George Jones “He Stopped Loving Her Today”, as well as hits for Ray Price, Merle Haggard and Tanya Tucker. There are currently 327 versions.

It was done very well when originally recorded by Country singer Johnny Darrell in 1965 and first covered by one of the biggest stars of that time, Porter Wagoner. However it was the next version by Jerry Lee Lewis that inspired Tom Jones to record it becoming a smash hit reaching #1 in the UK, Ireland, Norway and Australia and #11 in the US.

14. “Your Cheatin’ Heart” is the third Hank Williams song on this Top 20 list and his second most recorded song with 303 versions. Hank recorded it in late 1952 and it was released as a single on the ‘B’ side to “Kaw-Liga”. Hank Williams died at age 29 on January 1, 1953. Both songs were released shortly after his death, they would be his 8th and 9th #1 songs. Williams, just before his death had been wracked with pain following a failed operation to correct his spina bifida. This only fueled his drinking and after being prescribed morphine for his pain he now developed a drug addiction. All this and more was combined with his recent divorce from Audrey Sheppard, so he poured out all his hurt in the words of the song.

This, like so many of his songs paints a vivid picture and so many are autobiographical in nature, representing the struggles he had with pain, addiction, loneliness, love and loss. It is little wonder that he is the most covered Country Artist of all time and on the top 10 list of most covered singer/songwriters. When we look at the list of covers for this song we once again find Ray Charles who if you recall took Don Gibson’s “I Can’t Stop Loving You” to #1 from his 1962 album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music where he also did Williams songs. Charles version of “Your Cheatin’ Heart” went to #23 on the R&B and #29 on the Hot 100 and #13 on the UK charts that same year, this was from his follow-up album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music Volume 2. The song also charted twice in 1953 on the Billboard Most Played in Jukeboxes with renditions by Joni James #2 and Frankie Lane at #18.

15. “San Antonio Rose” is a song by the King of Western Swing, Bob Wills. An instrumental, it was first released in 1938 as Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. Wills, with the help of the band would write lyrics for this very popular song and it came out in 1940 and was titled “New San Antonio Rose”. It was his signature song for the rest of his career. Combined there are 298 versions of this song in several languages as well. There was only one cover of the instrumental original by Cliff Bruner and His Boys in 1939 and it would not be done again until 1951 when it was recorded seven times and dozens more since then. Every self respecting Square Dancer and Two-stepping Texan knows how to twirl to this classic.

It is the one with the lyrics “New San Antonio Rose” that is the more popular and it was done by Bing Crosby, released in January of 1941. This was a big deal as most of Country Music at this time, particularly songs from Wills was labeled as Hillbilly Music and not fit for popular consumption. There is a well known rendition by Patsy Cline with the Jordanaires from 1961. Bob Wills was not one that conformed to any standards except his own, and he and his band caused a great bit of upset when they performed this song live on the Grand ole Opry in 1944 and used the instrument called the drums. It is true that drums were banned on the Opry stage. While the song may not be recorded every year there are recent versions by LeAnn Rimes in 2019 and Australian singer Sharon Heaslip in 2020. Give the song a listen, just about anything by Bob Wills will if not move your feet it will lift your spirit.

References: 1, 2, 3, 4

One Hit Wonders (for real)

Real One Hit Wonders

Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton doing the Hucklebuck

A while back I sort of debunked “One Hit Wonders” lists in my “One Hit Wonders (Not!)” post as there were so many songs that just don’t qualify. So I thought I’d share a list of songs that are truly “one and done” hit songs. Once again following the definition laid out by music journalist Wayne Jancik “an act that has won a position on The Billboard (Hot 100) Top 40 record chart just once.” This from the ‘The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders’ (1998).Read More »