Posthumous hits

Jim’s Son asked the question in this Hendrix thread but nobody responded so I thought it deserved a thread of its own.

Off the top of my head, the biggest posthumous response was after John Lennon’s death, when “Women” was a huge hit and “Watching the Wheels” a decent-sized one. The Double Fantasy album had been released only three weeks before his death and it sold several extra million because of it.

“It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” was released a month after Buddy Holly died. It hit #13 but is played more than his last few pre-death singles today.

“Riders on the Storm” didn’t hit the Hot 100 until the day that Jim Morrison died and eventually went to #14, all of that after his death. “L. A. Woman” was never an official single but I’d have to argue that its continuous airplay was a result.

What else do you have?

Patsy Cline had three good hits released posthumously in 1963— Faded Love, Sweet Dreams of You, and * Leavin’ on Your Mind*.

Elvis Presley springs to mind - a remix of “A Little Less Conversation” got to number one in 2002, and he had a lot of lesser hits around the same time, because his early singles were all re-released. And George Harrison, of course - the re-release of…

Hang on, there’s a Wikipedia page that I could just copy from. Eva Cassidy was the other name I was going to mention (although she was more of an albums act).

You Know You’re Right - Nirvana

Lennon had several. I love “Nobody Told Me” and “Stepping Out.”
Not a fan of Nirvana, but Their unplugged album was huge and it came out after Kurt’s death I believe.

Jim Croce had three huge hits in the six months after his death: “I Got a Name,” “Time in a Bottle” (#1), and “I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song.”

Tupac Shakur apparently wrote and released 8 albums worth of material after he died.

His rival raper, Notorious B.I.G. aka Biggie Smalls was shot and killed on 9 MArch, 1997. Two weeks later his album Life After Death was released and was a huge hit. Two songs also topped the charts (Mo Money Mo Problems and Hypnotize).

Johnny Cash’s American V: A Hundred Highways album was released 3 years after his death and topped the Billboard 200.

Otis Redding’s (Sittin’ On) Dock of the Bay was released after his death and was a #1 single. In fact, it was Redding’s only #1 single.

Janis Joplin’s Pearl included her cover of Kris Kristofferson’s Me and Bobby McGee, which went to #1. The album was released shortly after her death.

Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody topped the charts more than a year after Freddie Mercury’s death, thanks to it’s inclusion on the Wayne’s World film soundtrack.

Jim Croce had 3 huge hit songs after his death, including I’ll Have to Say I Love You In A Song. (ETA: Doh! Scooped by Biffy!)

Roy Orbison’s album Mystery Girl was released after his death and went to #5.

Eat A Peach by The Allman Brothers Band was released after the death of Brother Duane Allman and included “One Way Out” and “Melissa” which both peaked at #86 and “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” which went to #77.

Even though it was neither released posthumously nor charted at all, a little voice in the back of my head keeps saying “Post Toastee” by Tommy Bolin deserves some kind of honorable mention. I guess my little voice has trouble with reading comprehension. It’s trying to make a case for Warren Zevon, too.

Thanks to its inclusion on the Good Morning, Viet Nam soundtrack, Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” became a top 40 hit in 1988, long after his death.

Robert Johnson’s recordings were far more successful 60 years after his death than when they were recorded.

A Change is Gonna Come - Sam Cooke

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s album Street Survivors went platinum after the band’s plane crash, and the single “What’s Your Name?” hit number 13 on the singles chart.

How about the hit duets album Natalie Cole made with her long-deceased father, Nat King Cole?

That one disgusted me–she snorted what minimal fame she had then shamelessly dug up her father’s corpse when she couldn’t get arrested.

Not to mention she has about as much talent as Lisa Marie Presley.

Ashley-Eva Cassidy’s biggest hit (IMO) was a cover.

Sublime’s album, Sublime, was released after the death of singer/guitarist Badley Nowell in 1996. It went to #13 on the charts and “What I Got” was a #1 song on the Modern Rock charts.

Essentially Eva Cassidy’s entire career while making hits was posthumous. She sang and recorded a lot during her life. She had some music released while she was alive. She didn’t have any hits (or even anything close to being a hit) though until four years after her death.

Some cynics might say it was made to cash in on the Beatles name, but “Free As A Bird” started as a vocal track by Lennon and was added to by the other three Beatles. It was released as part of their Anthology project in 1995.

Roy Orbison’s final album, King of Hearts, was released in 1992, four years after his death. It contained a couple of hits, “I Drove All Night” and a new recording of “Crying” with k. d. lang.

Can’t say I detect much cynicism about creating “Free As A Bird”. The musician in me says “Damn, that is a great emotional tribute to their mate - I would have loved to play on that session. George, Paul & Ringo - you nailed it.”