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 Top 20 Most Covered Country Songs of all time (#16-20)

16. “Wichita Lineman” (1968) is the second song on this list written by Jimmy Webb (By the Time I Get to Phoenix). Much of the credit goes to the strength of the Glen Campbell recordings. This should tell you a lot about the talent of these two individuals. After the success of Campbell’s cover of “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” in 1967 he wanted Webb to write him a similar song, one with the same type of time and place reference. A simple enough task if you are as talented as Jimmy Webb, so based on a drive he took through rural Oklahoma where he saw the solitary workers on utility poles he created this amazing and evocative story. It was missing just a couple things when he sent it to Campbell who then worked his guitar magic, plus some creative contributions from his producer/arranger Al De Lory. Throw in some more great guitar from fellow Wrecking Crew member Carol Kaye and you end up with this remarkable song. In 1968 it charted #1 on the Country chart and US Adult Contemporary in the US, #1 on two charts in Canada as well. It hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song won Record of the Year at the Grammys in 1968 and Campbell won Best Contemporary-Pop Vocal Performance, Male. I find it a bit odd the song didn’t win at the Country Music Association Awards or Academy of Country Music awards but Campbell did win Male Vocalist at both and shared Best Album for Bobbie Gentry and Glen Campbell at the latter. I really should get around to dedicating a post to Jimmy Webb, he has had at least 10 songs hit the Billboard Top 10 charts. There are at least 301 versions of this song.

17. “Folsom Prison Blues” (1955) is a song written and performed by Johnny Cash. He is another with two songs on the Top 20 list. However, Johnny can’t take full credit for the creation of this now legendary song. He borrows heavily in fact from a song in “The Conductor” on the album Seven Dreams written by Gordon Jenkins. The train themed album contains a song within a song titled “Crescent City Blues” and sung by Jenkins wife, Beverly Mahr. If you give it a listen it draws a bit of a shocking comparison. In turn the melody of the song was taken by Jenkins from an instrumental song, coincidentally titled “Crescent City Blues” written in the 1930’s by the New Orleans/Chicago Blues artist known as Little Brother Montgomery. Cash heard Beverly Mahr on a record while in Germany when he was with the US Air Force, this was in 1951, before he became a recording artist. Cash had wanted Jenkins acknowledged on the song credits for the 1955 song but was assured by Sam Phillips there were no issues. Jenkins would later sue and Johnny paid him $75.000 dollars, presumably in Cash.

Regardless of the journey it is one special performance by Johnny Cash and one of the greatest songs in Music. Most well known for the live recording from Folsom Prison, and the album At Folsom from 1968. The original charted #4 in 1956 on the Billboard Country chart, as well as #4 and #5 on the the Pop charts. The live version hit #1 in both Canada and the US on the Country Chart. The song, including instrumentals and vocals in six languages has 300 versions.

18. “Wabash Cannonball” here we have another train song and the journey is no less circuitous in nature. It has been traced back to story’s of train riding hobos in the mid 1800’s. In 1882 J.A. Rolf published a song named “The Great Rock Island Route!!”. Then in 1904 William Kindt published an instrumental song “Wabash Cannonball” using the same melody and we don’t really know who wrote the revised lyrics. This has strong roots as an American Folk song and as many were, it was adopted by the Country genre. A.P. Carter of the legendary family had registered the song as his own when they recorded it 1932, but he did not write it. Before the Carter Family recorded the song it was first done by a popular Country Singer and Radio Host, Hugh Cross in 1929. The third time’s the charm as is often said so when Roy Acuff and His Crazy Tennesseans (vocals by Sam “Dynamite” Hatcher) released it in 1938 it became one of the biggest selling records of all time reaching the 10 million copies mark. You can hear many live performances where Roy Acuff himself is singing but to the best of my knowledge he never recorded the song in his own voice. Roy Acuff Jr. released a version in 1965.

To say that everybody in Country Music has done this song, which including adaptations now has 283 documented versions, is not overstating things. I mean there are five Hanks alone, Williams Jr. , Snow, Thompson, Lochlin and Smith! We also have Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Bill Monroe, even The Secret Sisters did it in 2010 but don’t tell anyone you heard it from me. Folk legend Pete Seeger did it, Woody Guthrie adapted the tune for his song “Grand Coulee Dam” as did Chuck Berry for “Promised Land”. Not surprising that a song about trains is so well traveled. Stay with me folks I have more puns in the caboose!

19. “Oh Lonesome Me” was written by Don Gibson, yet another name to appear twice in the Top 20 as his “I Can’t Stop Loving You” placed #5. Both songs were released at the same time (December 1957) and “Oh Lonesome Me” was the ‘A’ side of the single and “I Can’t Stop Loving You” the ‘B’ side. with backing vocals by The Jordanaires. However it was the ‘A’ side that hit #1 on the Country Chart and #7 on the Pop chart. Ray Charles as he did with “I Can’t Stop Loving You” would record “Oh Lonesome Me” and another Gibson song “Don’t Tell Me Your Troubles”. The Kentucky Headhunters would hit #8 on the Hot 100 Country chart with “Oh Lonesome Me”.

If you look up unrequited love in the dictionary you would find this forlorn tune that is a Country Standard and another song that has been covered by just about everyone in Country Music, George Jones, Johnny Cash, Eddy Arnold, Kitty Wells, Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle, Anne Murray and Tanya Tucker to name just a few. Outside of Country there are renditions by Paul Anka, Sammy Davis Jr., Bing Crosby and Connie Stevens. Currently there are 281 versions of this song.

20. “Me and Bobby McGee” was written by Kris Kristofferson with a credit given to Fred Foster as his suggestion led to the writing of the song. Kristofferson is another person to have two songs on this list. The first of many Country chart appearances was the 1969 original by Roger Miller, reaching #3 in Canada and #12 in the US, Gordon Lightfoot hit #1 in Canada and #7 on the Pop chart and Jerry Lee Lewis with his 1971 release charted #1 and #40 on the Hot 100. There are currently 279 versions of this song, including Kristofferson himself in 1970, one of thirteen to be released that year. So it was a popular song. If you think that sounds like a lot there were 27 versions released in 1971. While most covers of the song are done in the County style or maybe a little more on the Folk side. The most memorable rendition of the song was the first of that stream of covers in 1971, and it was neither Country or Folk.

Janis Joplin recorded “Me and Bobby McGee” during the sessions for the 10 track album that was later named Pearl, which was her nickname. Janis would die from a drug overdose just three days after these recordings, October 4, 1970. The album and the single of this song were released in January of 1971. Both the song and the album would hit #1 on Billboard, it was her only top 40 song. The memorable and original song “Mercedes Benz” was also on the album but it did not chart. If you have heard the song you know that what she did with it was exceptional. It’s done with a breath of Country and quickly steps into an uptempo Blues song. If you have not listened you are missing out, click that link!

That’s the list, it was quite remarkable that so many names appear more than once. Hank Williams, Jimmy Webb, Glen Campbell, Don Gibson, Johnny Cash and once as a writer and once as a key performer we have Willie Nelson. However it is quite the contrast to the list for Pop Songs, where The Beatles dominate.

What is glaringly missing from both of these lists (Pop and Country) with 20 songs combined are ones written and or originally recorded by Women. I have to acknowledge Hedy West and her song “500 Miles’ that contributed to getting “I’m Nine Hundred Miles From Home” to #7. On the Pop Top 20 Songs we have only one entry by a women with Billie Holiday for “God Bless the Child”. However, in order to feature more of those amazing songs from women I have to work quite a ways down the lists. The first I came across for Country artists was (not surprisingly) Dolly Parton with a song covered 249 times, which by any standard is an impressive number.

I’m working on a post that will feature the most covered songs either written and or originally recorded by women. Here is a teaser from that post and the obvious answer as to which Dolly Parton song tops the list.

“I Will Always Love You” was written by Parton and released as a single in March of 1974, as most will know it hit #1 on the Country Chart that year and a re-recording hit #1 again in 1982. In 1995 her duet with Vince Gill charted at #15. To my knowledge no other song has achieved this before or since. If that was not enough there are likely very few people on the planet over 35 years of age that don’t know Whitney Houston’s 1992 version for the movie The Bodyguard. It was a worldwide smash #1 hit song making it the only song to hit #1 on a Billboard chart three separate times. Whitney’s version became one of the few songs to re-enter the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 as after her passing in 2012 the song would peak at #3. This makes the song the only one to have not only the three #1 Billboard appearances but if you add her #53 showing on the Hot 100 for her 1982 version that is a total of six chart appearances, three on the Country and two on the Pop chart.