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Number One Hits for the Year: 1979


I was recently going through a box of old photographs and came across photos from the first concert I ever attended: Kiss. October 21, 1979. Houston Summit. I was 10.

That got me to thinking of the music from that year.

1979 marked the end of arguably one of the most unfortunate eras in American music history: Disco. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a hater. I like all kinds of music and I can certainly appreciate the nostalgic sounds of mid-to-late 1970s popular music: the four-on-the-floor beat, the open hi-hat on the off-beat, the syncopated bass lines, and the lyrical cacophony all now synonymous with the disco. It's a guilty pleasure. I can watch Saturday Night Fever repeatedly and never tire of it. One of the absolute best subway performances I have ever heard was an acoustic version of "How Deep is Your Love" on the Clinton Washington G platform about 10 years ago. That song isn't disco, but the Bee Gees epitomized the genre. It's all good. But all good things must come to an end. The fashion, the dancing, all that hair… It had to come to an end sooner or later. Enough was enough.

On June 1, 1979 Get the Knack was released.

Most critics place The Knack into the one-hit wonders category populated by the likes of M, whose only hit "Pop Muzik" reached #1 on November 3, 1979. But Get the Knack was much more. It was a final nail in the coffin. It was a beginning and an end. It was 12 tracks of infectious confectionary rock candy that rocketed to the top of the charts, for six straight weeks, displacing the likes of Donna Summers from the position she was all too familiar with. Disco’s death rattle continued for a while, but the writing was on the wall. The Queen was dead. Long live the Queen.

Many of the over 50 #1 hits from 1979 were disco. Some rockers even got into the genre. Rod Stewart was at #1 for four straight weeks with “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?” The drums and bass in that song? Definitely disco. If you've never heard the 1972 Jorge Ben Jor song "Taj Mahal" give it a listen. It's got the familiar four-on-the-floor beat and a chorus melody that Rob Stewart blatantly "borrowed". Stewart was sued, lost, and donated all his royalties from the song to the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Kiss also got into the groove. The first single from 1979’s Dynasty was "I Was Made for Lovin' You". It made it to #11 on the US charts. To many fans' dismay, it was definitely disco.

Other #1 standouts for the year: “Heart of Glass” by Blondie and Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop 'til You Get Enough”. Those songs have definitely stood the test of time. Styx had their first number one hit with a ballad. Eagles also made an appearance. The Doobie Brothers reached #1 on April 14th with “What a Fool Believes”. It went on to win for song and album of the year. That song, co-written by Kenny Loggins, is now a perfect example of the Yacht Rock genre of the late 70s. Another great example of 70s genre music was the #1 song from the last 2 weeks of 1979: "Escape" by Rupert Holmes, better known as the Pina Colada Song.

Below are the Billboard Hot 100 number one hits of 1979. There were countless great tunes that did not make it to number one that year: "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" (Granny, does your dog bite? No child, No), "The Sultans of Swing" (They don't give a damn 'bout any trumpet playing band), "Dance the Night Away" (Yes, It's love in the third degree), the live version of "I Want You To Want Me" recorded in Budokan (Didn't I, didn't I, didn't I see you cryin), "Don't Bring Me Down" (Bruce!).

It was an amazing year for music! What are some of your favorites from 1979?

Date Song Artist
January 6 "Too Much Heaven" Bee Gees
January 13 "Too Much Heaven" Bee Gees
January 20 "Le Freak" Chic
January 27 "Le Freak" Chic
February 3 "Le Freak" Chic
February 10 "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" Rod Stewart
February 17 "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" Rod Stewart
February 24 "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" Rod Stewart
March 3 "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" Rod Stewart
March 10 "I Will Survive" Gloria Gaynor
March 17 "I Will Survive" Gloria Gaynor
March 24 "Tragedy" Bee Gees
March 31 "Tragedy" Bee Gees
April 7 "I Will Survive" Gloria Gaynor
April 14 "What a Fool Believes" The Doobie Brothers
April 21 "Knock on Wood" Amii Stewart
April 28 "Heart of Glass" Blondie
May 5 "Reunited" Peaches & Herb
May 12 "Reunited" Peaches & Herb
May 19 "Reunited" Peaches & Herb
May 26 "Reunited" Peaches & Herb
June 2 "Hot Stuff" Donna Summer
June 9 "Love You Inside Out" Bee Gees
June 16 "Hot Stuff" Donna Summer
June 23 "Hot Stuff" Donna Summer
June 30 "Ring My Bell" Anita Ward
July 7 "Ring My Bell" Anita Ward
July 14 "Bad Girls" Donna Summer
July 21 "Bad Girls" Donna Summer
July 28 "Bad Girls" Donna Summer
August 4 "Bad Girls" Donna Summer
August 11 "Bad Girls" Donna Summer
August 18 "Good Times" Chic
August 25 "My Sharona" The Knack
September 1 "My Sharona" The Knack
September 8 "My Sharona" The Knack
September 15 "My Sharona" The Knack
September 22 "My Sharona" The Knack
September 29 "My Sharona" The Knack
October 6 "Sad Eyes" Robert John
October 13 "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" Michael Jackson
October 20 "Rise" Herb Alpert
October 27 "Rise" Herb Alpert
November 3 "Pop Muzik" M
November 10 "Heartache Tonight" Eagles
November 17 "Still" Commodores
November 24 "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)" Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer
December 1 "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)" Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer
December 8 "Babe" Styx
December 15 "Babe" Styx
December 22 "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" Rupert Holmes
December 29 "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" Rupert Holmes

Kiss. October 21, 1979.  Houston Summit.Kiss. October 21, 1979. Houston Summit.


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Roller skates, 45s and the Clash!

Every time I hear "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," I feel like breaking out the roller skates. My friends and I would bring a boom box down to the storage room in our building and skate away to Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" album. We were big fans of the Saturday night Fever soundtrack, too, although none of us were allowed to see the R-rated film at the time. I remember listening to my brother's 45 of "My Sharona" but we didn't have the LP, so I don't think I've ever heard any other Knack song. It didn't produce any number 1 hits in the U.S., but for my money, the best album released in 1979 was "London Calling" by the Clash although I didn't realize it at the time (being too occupied with disco roller skating.) It still sounds fresh and amazes me every time I listen to it and might be my single desert island pick if I had to choose one. And 1979 is when the Two Tone label in the U.K. brought us The Specials, Madness, The Beat. Ska, ska, ska! Thanks for conjuring some pleasant memories (although I could have done without the flashback to the Piña Colada Song ;-)

the Clash!

"London Calling" is a great one! Some other notable albums from 1979: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers : Damn the Torpedoes Joy Division : Unknown Pleasures AC/DC : Highway to Hell Gang of Four : Entertainment! The Police : Reggatta de Blanc Pink Floyd : The Wall

I love the 70s

My younger sister Allison was born in 1979. The year was filled with totally rocking tunes. The disco craze was dying and it showed in the charts. But 1979 gave us some awesome tunes. My faves were Bad Girls, Hot Stuff, Love You Inside Out, Fire, Sad Eyes, and We Are Family.

awesome tunes indeed

...and diverse! 1979 gave us "Spirit of Radio" from Rush, "September" by Earth, Wind, and Fire, "Hold the Line" from Toto, "Cars" by Gary Numan, and "The Gambler" from Kenny Rogers, who single-handedly inspired more trends in facial hair and hairstyles then any other man that year!

Music of the 70's

Fantastic photo, considering you were sitting at the very top row of the Summit!!!

Like any genre, there are

Like any genre, there are always turkeys. But disco did have its art, and lasting influences. Chic and Giorgio Moroder / Donna Summer for example. The great and influential Scottish indie pop group Orange Juice saw themslves as a hybrid of Chic and the Velvet Undegeound. And four on the floor keeps making a comeback. Pulp and Blur (Disco 2000 and Girls and Boys anyone?) made much use of it in the nineties, and a number of New York acts in the early 2000s. And speaking as a drummer, it's such a fun beat to play!

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