Wouter Leenders

Research assistant, University of Oxford
Teaching assistant, London School of Economics

Wouter Leenders

Research assistant, University of Oxford
Teaching assistant, London School of Economics

Hot R&B Sides - Social media project

On October 20, 1958 Billboard Magazine introduced two new charts: Hot C&W Sides and Hot R&B Sides. The former aimed to provide "the fastest and most accurate coverage available on country music records, with the emphasis on 'traditional' rather than pop-style disks", while the latter, to which this page is dedicated, "performs the same service for the rhythm and blues field." In the next 5 years, the chart would be home to the singles produced by Stax, Motown, King, and Mercury, home to Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, Fats Domino, and James Brown.

This project uses social media - Facebook, Twitter, Spotify - to make the music of the 1960s R&B charts more accessible. By following the charts as they were published in 1960 and later years, making grateful use of the work done by American Radio History, we provide a clear structure that enables people to experience the rhythm and blues of the 1960s. The project started on August 29th 2017, posting songs from the R&B chart of August 29th 1960 to Twitter and Facebook. The 30 songs of the week's chart are posted to Twitter and Facebook over a four week period, essentially posting one song per day (30 songs, 28 days). After these four weeks, a Spotify playlist of the chart is shared and we continue with the chart that was published the next day, but in 1960. Here is the list of charts that we have covered so far:

  1. Hot R&B Sides, August 29, 1960 (Spotify) (Twitter)
  2. Hot R&B Sides, September 26, 1960 (Spotify) (Twitter)
  3. Hot R&B Sides, October 24, 1960 (Spotify) (Twitter)
  4. Hot R&B Sides, November 21, 1960 (Spotify) (Twitter)
  5. Hot R&B Sides, December 19, 1960 (Spotify) (Twitter)
  6. Hot R&B Sides, January 16, 1961 (Spotify) (Twitter)
  7. Hot R&B Sides, February 13, 1961 (Spotify) (Twitter)
  8. Hot R&B Sides, March 13, 1961 (Spotify) (Twitter)
  9. Hot R&B Sides, April 10, 1961 (Spotify) (Twitter)
  10. Hot R&B Sides, May 8, 1961 (Spotify) (Twitter) - Currently ongoing

Hot R&B Sides replaced the previous R&B Territorial Best Sellers, R&B Best Sellers in Stores, and Most Played R&B by Jockeys. Now, the 30 most popular R&B songs were listed every week, starting with Bobby Day's Rock-in' Robin as the first Hot R&B Sides' #1. The first chart already includes R&B legends such as Sam Cooke and Little Willie John. In later years, it will be home to the debuts of other R&B and soul icons. Aretha Franklin first enters the chart in 1960. A year later, Lee Dorsey scores his first hit, reaching number one with Ya Ya. The year 1962 turns out to be particularly fruitful, being the year in which Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Booker T. & the M.G.'s, and Marvin Gaye first reach the chart.

Renamed Hot R&B Singles in 1962, the chart was discontinued in November 1963. Over the years, the chart had lost connection with the R&B audience by "reporting all manner of popular records with even a hint of a beat, by black or white artists, as R&B." This is well illustrated by the last 1963 R&B chart, which ranked Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs' pop rock hit Sugar Shack above Rufus Thomas' Walking The Dog (#5), Ray Charles' Busted (#10), and Marvin Gaye's Can I Get a Witness (#15). A new R&B chart, Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles, was introduced in January 1965, featuring artists such as The Temptations, Joe Tex, and The Impressions. This time, as noted by Chris Molanphy, all 30 artists, with the exception of The Righteous Brothers and The Kingsmen, were people of colour. Since then, the chart has often been renamed, to Hot Soul Singles in the 1970s, Hot Black Singles in the 1980s and back to Hot R&B Singles in the 1990s. As of 2005, the chart is known as Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.