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Old 03-19-2020, 05:36 PM
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Number One with their first single


Ruby and the Romantics were an R&B singing group from Ohio. In 1963 they lucked out and got to sing "Our Day Will Come," a fantastically beautiful ballad written by Mort Garson and Bob Hilliard.

The song went straight to Number One on the Billboard charts. Both the Hot 100 and the R&B charts, too. That was the group's very first single.

And that's amazing. How many famous artists have achieved that feat? I can't think of any offhand.

This must have happened at some other time. I'm sure that some groups formed to record novelty records struck gold and were never heard from again, but those hardly count.

Do people have any more suggestions?
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Old 03-19-2020, 05:44 PM
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The Four Seasons started out with three #1s: "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," and "Walk Like a Man."
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Old 03-19-2020, 06:01 PM
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Near as I can tell, the first single from the Monkees (a) was “Last Train To Clarksville”, which (b) hit #1 — just like their second, “I’m A Believer”.

(Third one stalled out at #2.)
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Old 03-19-2020, 06:06 PM
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I feel like, going all the way back to Tin Pan Alley, with groups of people whose sole job is writing hit pop songs, it can't be all that uncommon.
Quickly looking, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera both did it. Mariah Carey's first five singles went to number 1.

I think this would be a more difficult challenge if you restricted it to non-pop artists and/or singers or bands that write their own music (actually write it, not just a writing credit). Even then, Mariah may still be in the running.

I think if you look at a lot of artists that got very big, very very quickly, you'll find many of them had #1 hits as their first single.
Don't forget how easily these charts are manipulated...or not so much manipulated, but getting airtime on Top 40 stations doesn't just *happen*. I don't know how prominent it is today, but I recall a huge artist (Britney, maybe) talking about how payola really isn't gone. No, the producers aren't paying the DJs, but the radio stations have a deal that they'll only play songs that come from a specific company and the producers pay those 3rd parties to push their records. A perfectly mediocre song can rise up the charts pretty quickly if every major city has at least one station that plays it a minimum of 12 times a day.
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Old 03-19-2020, 06:15 PM
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The Beatles's "Love Me Do" was their first US single and went to #1 in the US. (This is if you don't count "My Bonnie," where they weren't billed as the Beatles).

Little Eva hit #1 with her first single, "The Loco-Motion."

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Old 03-19-2020, 06:16 PM
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I'm sure it's been done several times by supergroups (i.e., groups formed by musicians who were already successful and well-known).

For example, The Highwaymen were a country supergroup, consisting of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson. Their first single, "Highwayman," hit #1 on the Billboard country chart in 1985, but all four of them had been performing for 2 or 3 decades at that point, and all already had numerous hits as solo artists.
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Old 03-19-2020, 06:46 PM
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Simon and Garfunkel (if you don't count them as Tom and Jerry) with "The Sound of Silence."
Lemon Pipers, "Green Tambourine."
Archie Bell and the Drells, "Tighten Up."
Jeannie C. Riley, "Ode to Billy Joe."
Tommy James and the Shondells, "Hanky Panky."
Steam, "Na Na, Hey Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye."

It seems to happen a couple of times a year in the 60s.
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Old 03-19-2020, 06:52 PM
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The Spice Girls, with “Wannabe”.
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Old 03-19-2020, 07:04 PM
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The Four Seasons started out with three #1s: "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," and "Walk Like a Man."
They're a good example of why this is harder than it looks. From Wikipedia.

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The Four Seasons signed as artists to Crewe's production company, and they released their first Crewe-produced single under their new name in 1961 ("Bermuda"/"Spanish Lace" on Gone Records). The single did not chart.
Same goes for The Beatles.
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The first Beatles single released by Vee-Jay was "Please Please Me" in February 1963. Art Roberts, music director of Chicago radio station WLS, placed "Please Please Me" into radio rotation in late February, and Dick Biondi was the first to play the record on his show. "Please Please Me" reached number 35 on WLS's weekly survey but failed to chart nationally.
It's those non-charting singles that are hard to trace.

Or the barely charting ones. Everybody "knows" that the Doors' first single was "Light My Fire." It wasn't. "Break on Through" was, though it didn't make the Hot 100. And "California Dreaming" wasn't the first Mamas and Papas single. That would be "Go Where You Wanna Go," which didn't chart at all. I learned a lot about obscure early singles when the internet came along.

Looks like Britney, Mariah, and The Monkees past that test, though. I hate "The Loco-Motion" and I'd classify it as a novelty song, but that's probably just me.
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Old 03-19-2020, 09:52 PM
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"Fireflies" by Owl City
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Old 03-19-2020, 10:35 PM
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"Fireflies" by Owl City
This reminded me of another artist I first heard on alternative radio in the US, in her case for several months to maybe even over a year before crossing over to pop (I think she was on her 3rd single at that point), Lorde with "Royals."
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Old 03-20-2020, 02:42 AM
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Sylvia Fricker's YOU WERE ON MY MIND by the We Five.
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Old 03-20-2020, 06:23 AM
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"Old Town Road" is Lil Nas X's first commercial release, and it's the longest-running #1 in the history of the Hot 100.
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Old 03-20-2020, 06:40 AM
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Jeannie C. Riley, "Ode to Billy Joe."
Wasn’t that Bobbie Gentry? As far as I can tell, Riley’s first single — which hit #1 — was the one about how her mama socked it to The Harper Valley PTA.
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:06 AM
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Sheryl Crow, "All I Wanna Do," topped a couple charts. It was actually her third single, but it was a single off her first album, that should count for something.
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:44 AM
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Lisa Loeb "Stay (I Missed You)"
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis "Thrift Shop"
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Old 03-20-2020, 08:08 AM
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Funkytown by Lipps Inc

But they didn’t remain famous very long, so kind of not what the OP meant.
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Old 03-20-2020, 08:14 AM
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Lisa Loeb "Stay (I Missed You)"
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis "Thrift Shop"
Thrift Shop was the fourth single released from their debut album. Close but no cigar.

Stay is reasonably a debut single. There were some cassettes sold at shows and stuff, but no real release.

(I presume the choices for your post was inspired by the fact that these are the only two independent-label songs to ever reach Billboard #1.)
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Old 03-20-2020, 08:44 AM
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Sheryl Crow, "All I Wanna Do," topped a couple charts. It was actually her third single, but it was a single off her first album, that should count for something.
Yeah, but having a single from your debut album reach #1 isn't exactly that uncommon. Paula Abdul's debut, Forever your Girl, had four #1s (and an additional #3 when "The Way That You Love Me" was re-released in between "Cold Hearted" and "Opposites Attract.") This is on the Billboard Hot 100, the usual yardstick for this. "All I Wanna Do" only made #2 on that chart, though it did top the US Adult Contemporary and US Mainstream Top 40 chart (which tracks radio airplay.)

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Old 03-20-2020, 09:22 AM
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Procol Harum hit #1 in the UK with "A Whiter Shade of Pale," though only #5 in the US.
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Old 03-20-2020, 11:15 AM
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Procol Harum hit #1 in the UK with "A Whiter Shade of Pale," though only #5 in the US.
I'm not nearly as familiar with the UK charts, so there probably are other surprising examples as well. I do know that for most of the early 1960s in the UK, singles were left off of albums, on the theory that people didn't want to buy the same music twice. That had to have some effect on singles sales, but it could go either way. People might buy more of the single because it was their only chance or they could buy fewer because hearing it on other peoples' albums didn't happen.

Anybody from the UK who can address this?
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Old 03-20-2020, 11:47 AM
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I don't think The Knack had a single before "My Sharona".
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Old 03-20-2020, 11:59 AM
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Kesha's first release was an uncredited appearance in Flo Rida's #1 single "Right Round," and then she hit #1 again with her own debut single "TiK ToK."
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Old 03-20-2020, 12:18 PM
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Along similar lines in the UK, Frankie Goes To Hollywood went:

Relax - #1
Two Tribes - #1
The Power Of Love - #1
Welcome To The Pleasure Dome - #2 (Awwwww.....)

j
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Old 03-20-2020, 12:58 PM
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Along similar lines in the UK, Frankie Goes To Hollywood went:

Relax - #1
Two Tribes - #1
The Power Of Love - #1
Welcome To The Pleasure Dome - #2 (Awwwww.....)

j
Fellow Liverpudlians Gerry and the Pacemakers had already debuted with 3 number 1s and then a number 2 in 1963/4.
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Old 03-20-2020, 04:52 PM
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In January of 1983 Men At Work simultaneously hit #1 with their first single (Down Under) and their first album (Business As Usual) in not just the US but also in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

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Old 03-20-2020, 06:37 PM
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Don't forget how easily these charts are manipulated...or not so much manipulated, but getting airtime on Top 40 stations doesn't just *happen*. I don't know how prominent it is today, but I recall a huge artist (Britney, maybe) talking about how payola really isn't gone. No, the producers aren't paying the DJs, but the radio stations have a deal that they'll only play songs that come from a specific company and the producers pay those 3rd parties to push their records.
Heh. Per wiki, Gary Lewis & the Playboys got their #1 debut the old-fashioned way: “Garrett got airplay in New York City for "This Diamond Ring" by making a deal with WINS disc jockey "Murray the K" Kaufman, who ran a series of all-star concerts at theaters around the New York area. Garrett promised that if Kaufman played Lewis’ record, the Playboys would do his shows. Garrett then had Jerry Lewis use his contacts to get his son onto The Ed Sullivan Show.”
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Old 03-20-2020, 08:52 PM
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I do know that for most of the early 1960s in the UK, singles were left off of albums, on the theory that people didn't want to buy the same music twice.
It was more than just theory. Record buyers had less money in the UK and did not like to waste it. So the three formats -- singles, LPs, and EPs (which never caught on in the US) avoided repeating songs. Putting a song on more than one was considered a rip off.
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Old 03-20-2020, 09:46 PM
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Lisa Loeb "Stay (I Missed You)"
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis "Thrift Shop"
I came in to mention these two. Then I found out it wasn't Macklemore's first single, which I honestly didn't know.

Cyndi Lauper hit #1 with "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," her first single.
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Old 03-20-2020, 10:56 PM
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It was more than just theory. Record buyers had less money in the UK and did not like to waste it. So the three formats -- singles, LPs, and EPs (which never caught on in the US) avoided repeating songs. Putting a song on more than one was considered a rip off.
There were also unwritten laws that US pop albums consisted of 12 songs and UK albums of 14 songs. That's why the early Beatles' LP output (and that of the Rolling Stones and countless others) was so different in both countries.
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Old 03-20-2020, 11:01 PM
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Another from the U.K., Thunderclap Newman hit #1 with “Something in the Air” in 1969.
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Old 03-20-2020, 11:15 PM
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The Beatles's "Love Me Do" was their first US single and went to #1 in the US. (This is if you don't count "My Bonnie," where they weren't billed as the Beatles).

Little Eva hit #1 with her first single, "The Loco-Motion."
That isn’t true at all. In the USA, the first single was I Want to Hold Your Hand.

Love Me Do was the first UK single and not a number one, that was Please Please Me.
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Old 03-21-2020, 12:17 AM
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Ninja'd

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Old 03-21-2020, 01:13 AM
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A-ha's Take on Me was their debut song and reached #1 on the US charts. Might be a bit of a cheat though, they released a second version of the song after the first failed to chart; but it was still the same song.

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Old 03-21-2020, 01:25 AM
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Men at Work probably qualify, depending on how stringently you want to define "first single."

They had been around for a couple of years, working as a "pub band" in Australia, and then signed their first record contract, with CBS Records, in early '81. Their first single once they had that contract, "Who Can It Be Now?", reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard chart.

However, prior to signing a record conract, they had self-released at least one single in Australia -- a song called "Keypunch Operator," which apparently did not chart in Australia (or anywhere else, for that matter). The B-side of that single was an early version of "Down Under" -- a re-recorded version of that song was their second release with CBS, and it, too, reached #1 in the U.S.

Edit: I didn't see that Snowboarder Bo had already mentioned them -- sorry!

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Old 03-21-2020, 03:08 AM
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“If You Had My Love” looks to qualify as a debut #1 for Jennifer Lopez.
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Old 03-21-2020, 07:00 AM
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Another from the U.K., Thunderclap Newman hit #1 with “Something in the Air” in 1969.
Also their only #1 from their only album. I had fun playing bass on the album.
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Old 03-21-2020, 07:07 AM
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I guess it’s time to mention the one-hit wonder that was Zager and Evans, with the truly weird #1 debut that was In The Year 2525.
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Old 03-21-2020, 08:22 AM
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Also their only #1 from their only album. I had fun playing bass on the album.
Yes! I was hoping you might see your group namechecked and drop by! 😉
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Old 03-21-2020, 11:07 AM
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That isn’t true at all. In the USA, the first single was I Want to Hold Your Hand.

Love Me Do was the first UK single and not a number one, that was Please Please Me.
Thank you. Saved me the trouble.
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Old 03-21-2020, 11:17 AM
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You know, if you cross I Want To Hold Your Hand with Love Love Me Do, what comes to mind is — I Think I Love You, the #1 debut of the Partridge Family.
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Old 03-21-2020, 01:20 PM
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That isn’t true at all. In the USA, the first single was I Want to Hold Your Hand.

Love Me Do was the first UK single and not a number one, that was Please Please Me.
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Thank you. Saved me the trouble.
Not true in America. See post #9.
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Old 03-21-2020, 01:29 PM
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Man, the back-and-forth goes on and on like a movie or something.

Speaking of: “I Got You Babe” was the #1 debut single for Sonny & Cher.
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Old 03-21-2020, 02:43 PM
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Kelly Clarkson's first single, "A Moment Like This," went number one. I'm guessing the fact she performed it on the most popular TV show in the country might have helped.

Attractive young women seem a bit disproportionately represented. Clarkson, plus we've mentioned Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Lisa Loeb, Mariah Carey, and Lorde. Katy Perry did it too, as did Meghan Trainor, Alicia Keys, Iggy Azalea, Debbie Boone, and more I'm sure.
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Old 03-21-2020, 02:56 PM
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Attractive young women seem a bit disproportionately represented. Clarkson, plus we've mentioned Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Lisa Loeb, Mariah Carey, and Lorde. Katy Perry did it too, as did Meghan Trainor, Alicia Keys, Iggy Azalea, Debbie Boone, and more I'm sure.
Lauryn Hill knocked it out of the park.
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Old 03-21-2020, 09:09 PM
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I was thinking of Lauryn Hill and adore that album, but... it seems like a cheat to credit someone with a "first single" when they became a solo act only after being part of a very famous and established band. We'd also have to count Beyonce.
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Old 03-21-2020, 09:21 PM
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Not to mention George Harrison.
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Old 03-21-2020, 10:33 PM
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There were lots in the 50s and early 60s. Blue Moon" by the Marcels comes to mind. Also "Duke of Earl" by Gene Chandler.
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Old 03-21-2020, 11:30 PM
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Not true in America. See post #9.
I'm confused here. Unless you're maintaining that "Love Me Do" was the first Beatles single released in the USA (wrong) and it went to #1 on the charts (ridiculous), I don't see what you're referring to.

(pause)

Oh. I think I see the error in the statement I was agreeing with: "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was the Fabs' first #1 in the US, but it wasn't their first single released in the US.
I should've caught that, as I bought all their US singles as they were being released.

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