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September 21, 2023 10:39 am  #1

Chart Countdown Show Hits 75 Years/Incredible BBC Chart Site

Forget about American Top 40. What may be the oldest "chart countdown" show in radio history appears to belong to the legendary Radio Luxembourg, at one time the only source for non-government controlled radio in Europe. 

My late friend Clint Nickerson worked in London for a few years and always told me that before commercial radio exploded in England, the pirates and Radio Luxembourg were the equivalent of our CHUM and CKFH as the primary (and often only) place to hear contemporary music.  

Now the Radio Luxembourg Top 20 Countdown has reached an amazing 75 years on air. How successful was it in its heyday?

"At its peak in the late 1950s, the Top Twenty would regularly attract 12 million listeners and become the most successful radio format in the industry."

A pretty amazing legacy. 

Former radio chart show presenters remember 75 years of the countdown format

The BBC was a lot more reluctant to play rock and roll but eventually caught up to what the kids were listening to. And now there's a rather amazing website where you can see their charts going all the way back to the 50s, a look at what the Mod Crowd was listening to before, during and after the British invasion. 

The format is a bit clunky - you have to search by the specific date you want to see, as opposed to just being able to browse, but it's a part of rock radio history most of us never got a chance to hear. And it's fascinating to see songs listed we never heard of on this side of the pond that were huge hits over there. 

I managed to locate the very first time The Beatles ever hit the list. It came during the week of October 10-17, 1962, when "Love Me Do" appeared at #49 on the Top 50. It would eventually peak at #17. But of course, they wouldn't stay out of the Top 10 for very long. 

Beatles First Appearance On BBC 1 "Official Charts"  


September 21, 2023 1:38 pm  #2

Re: Chart Countdown Show Hits 75 Years/Incredible BBC Chart Site

I remember being in the UK and in Ireland in 1965. Luxembourg and the 'Pirates' were the only source of Top 40. My memory is that Radio Luxembourg didn't play the full songs, only a portion. Wonder if it was a 'royalties' issue or were they just trying to stop folks recording off the broadcast.