Richard is a freelance writer and blogger who enjoys all forms of entertainment, including movies, music, and television.
The UK's ten best selling songs of 1970 certainly made for strange bedfellows. You probably could not create a list of ten songs as diverse as those that captured the attention of the record buying public during 1970. Who would have thought that rock band Free, Lee Marvin and Elvis Presley could end up appearing on the same countdown? But, that is exactly what happened.
Note: These songs are not my favourites of this year, only the records that sold the most during 1970.
1. Elvis Presley - "The Wonder Of You"
The best selling song in the UK in 1970 was this track by Elvis Presley. In the USA, it peaked at #9 in the spring, but "The Wonder Of You" topped the UK Singles Chart for six weeks in the summer. This was the 59th Top 40 hit of Elvis' career.
"The Wonder Of You" was one of about 35 songs he played live in concert, but never recorded in a studio. It was actually the first of three songs recorded live in Las Vegas during his stint there in the late 1960s and throughout the '70s.
2. Christie - "Yellow River"
"Yellow River" became a massive international hit, reaching #1 on the UK music chart for a single week in June 1970. It also entered the American charts, peaking at a respectable #23.
Originally recorded by The Tremeloes, it was the group's intention to release it as their latest single, but then decided the song was not in keeping with the direction they wanted to follow. Christie recorded vocals over the original backing track and, as they say, the rest is history.
3. Mungo Jerry - "In The Summertime"
The first ever single from Mungo Jerry became the band's biggest selling song, hitting the top of the charts worldwide. "In The Summertime" remained at #1 for a staggering seven weeks in the UK, with estimated global sales of more than six million copies.
Although the song peaked at #3 in the States, this was the band's only hit on their shores, although more were to come in their native UK and elsewhere around the world.
4. Freda Payne - "Band Of Gold"
"Band Of Gold"was written by the Motown songwriting team, Holland/Dozier/Holland, and was a smash hit in 1970. It peaked at #3 in the US and at #1 in the UK, staying there for six weeks in September 1970, Payne's first gold record.
The song has since been covered by numerous artists, notably dueling 1986 versions by singers Belinda Carlisle and Bonnie Tyler. It was also recorded in 2007 by American Idol contestant, Kimberley Locke.
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5. Shirley Bassey - "Something"
"Something" was originally recorded by The Beatles and became a #1 hit for the group in the US, as well as a Top 10 record in the UK.
Many artists have recorded the George Harrison song over the years, but one of the most commercially successful covers was by Dame Shirley Bassey in 1970. Her version peaked at #4 in August 1970, but remained on the UK charts for 22 weeks, the fifth best seller of the year.
6. Lee Marvin - "Wand'rin Star"
For three weeks in March 1970, this novelty song by Lee Marvin rode the top of the British charts. "Wand'rin Star" was originally written in 1951 for the stage musical, Paint Your Wagon. When the film of the musical was made in 1969, Lee Marvin took the role of prospector Ben Rumson.
Despite the film being a box office flop, the soundtrack became a success. Orchestrated and arranged by Nelson Riddle, Marvin's version of "Wand'rin Star" became an unlikely #1 song in the UK, famously keeping "Let It Be" at #2. Marvin never released a follow-up single, so the song will remain one of a very few one hit wonders which has topped the UK charts.
7. Norman Greenbaum - "Spirit In The Sky"
"Spirit In The Sky" sold two million copies in 1969-70, peaking at #3 on the US Billboard chart, and #1 on the UK, Australian, and Canadian charts. Rolling Stone ranked it #333 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Fun fact: Cover versions by Doctor And The Medics and Gareth Gates have also made the #1 spot in the UK.
8. Simon & Garfunkel - "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
The song that essentially split the professional partnership of Simon and Garfunkel was the classic "Bridge Over Troubled Water." It peaked at #1 in the US at the end of February and remained there for a total of six weeks, eventually becoming the biggest seller of the year. It repeated the feat in the UK a month later, staying at the top of the British charts for three weeks. It later won Grammys for Album, Record, and Song of the Year.
9. England World Cup Squad 1970 - "Back Home"
One of the biggest sporting events of 1970 was the football World Cup, in which England defended its 1966 title. This was the first of the World Cup songs to celebrate the English squad and duly went to #1 for three weeks in May.
Unfortunately, the team was not as successful on the pitch as they were with their singing endeavours. England was eliminated in the quarterfinal stages by Germany.
10. Free - "All Right Now"
"All Right Now" was released in the summer of 1970 and hit #2 on the UK charts and #4 on the US charts. The song originally appeared on the album Fire And Water, but in 1991 was remixed and re-released, reaching #8 on the UK charts
In 2006, the BMI London awards included a Million Air award for 3 million air plays of "All Right Now" in the USA.
The 1970 UK Top 10 Poll
The US' Top 10 Songs of 1970
1. Simon and Garfunkel
Bridge Over Troubled Water
2. The Carpenters (later won Best New Artist at the Grammys)
(They Long To Be) Close To You
3. Guess Who
American Woman / No Sugar Tonight
4. B.J. Thomas
Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head
5. Edwin Starr
6. Diana Ross
Ain't No Mountain High Enough
7. The Jackson 5
I'll Be There
8. Rare Earth
9. The Beatles
Let It Be
10. Freda Payne
Band Of Gold
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2007 Richard
Your Thoughts on the Music of 1970
Sara Valor from Breezy Hills on April 24, 2011:
Grew up with it stateside and in Europe, just love 70s music and 70s songs. But, of course, I do like all sorts of music.
Steve Arun on February 21, 2011:
Fantastic lens, Yes lot of unforgettable music in 1970. Thanks!
outsource123 on January 30, 2011:
Great lens for Music lovers. Good Work.
Amy Fricano from WNY on September 27, 2010:
Lee Marvin was my surprise. Great stuff.
Joan4 on May 12, 2010:
super music! enjoyed remembering!
James20 on July 22, 2008:
A fun lens to look at. I did pick the song Spirit In The Sky even though there is one line in it that should have been different.
I lensroll this into my number one songs of 1970 lens.