Who Was the Oldest Musician to Have a Song in the Top 40?

The title pretty much says it all. I’m trying to identify the oldest person to sing or play an instrument in a song that was in the top 40. I’d like to exclude peope who had a hit song in 1960something that became popular again decades later for whatever reason (thus the guys who did that Unchained Melody song that was popular after the move Ghost came out are SOL).

For my contribution, ISTR reading somewhere that a jazz musician named Tito Puente was in his 80’s when he played an instrument on some jazz remix song (Swing the Mood, perhaps?) that was popular for a week or so in the late 80’s. But I may just be imagining that.

Actually, now that I think about it, some of the original tracks for Swing the Mood were recorded in the 40’s and 50’s and remixed for the song (as opposed to being recorded specifically for that song), so my original contribution doesn’t count.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the soundtrack for the movie Amadeus had slipped into the Top 40 when the movie was at its peak of popularity, but this likely violates your “no rereleases” rule.

What was the last hit the Rolling Stones had? Ah, I doubt it was them, but some “fluke” hit by an aging TV star or something like that.

Good candidate -

Moms Mabley, with her rendition of “Abraham, Martin and John” in 1969. It was a cover, but a cover of something contemporary to the time, not released decades later. She was 70.

Another - Senator Everett Dirksen’s recording, entitled “Gallant Men” hit 29 on the billboard charts in 1967. Dirksen was 71.

George Burns was 84 when *I Wish I was 18 Again * was released, though I can’t say for certain it made the top 40.

Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt” probably made it into the top 40. He was only 70 or so though.

A quick google later…


Gordon Sinclair was 72 or 73 when his hit recording of “The Americans” came out in 1973.

Walter Brennan was 68 when his hit “Old Rivers” came out in 1962.

Bing Crosby - Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth

Duet with David Bowie, Bing was over 70 at the time.

It did not make even the Billboard Hot 100.

The recording did not make even the Billboard Hot 100.

Walloon, I think Casdave and Julius Henry are referring to the British charts and not the U.S. Hot 100.

Anyway, I’m not sure this is the record, but I think the last time Sinatra had a single in the charts, he was well into his 70’s. I also think he was almost 80 when his Duets albums came out and charted.

I’m aware of that, NDP. But since the OP was by HeyHomie, in the USA, I am assuming HeyHomie is referring to the U.S. charts.

And the last time Sinatra had a single in the Top 40 was New York, New York in 1980, when he was 64 years old.