Music Monday: The Youngest Person to Have a Number One Song

It’s kind of a trick question, asking who was the youngest person to have a number one song.

If you are looking at just solo artists, then it is Stevie Wonder.

Born Stevland Hardaway Judkins, he had performed as a child in the choir at the Whitestone Baptist Church in his hometown of Saginaw, Michigan, along with his mother and siblings. By the tender age of 10, the boy Wonder could sing and play piano and drums. He was snapped up by Motown Records a year later. Hearing him messing around on instruments in the studio, Motown boss Berry Gordy, Jr marveled out loud that this boy was a wonder; the name stuck. There was no doubting Stevie’s talent, and he regularly sat in on sessions for other Motown artists, playing everything from keyboards to bongos. But his own first three singles tanked, and doubts were raised about his commercial potential. All that changed in 1963: on 10 August, aged just 13 years 189 days, he scored a US Billboard Hot 100 No.1 single (and R&B No.1) with the infectious “Fingertips – Part 2”, showcasing his snappy harmonica style.

The video below should start at about the 4:28 mark, that is where Fingertips – Part 2 begins. The first part of the song is, not surprisingly, Fingertips – Part 1.

While Steveie may hold the record for the youngest solo artist to have a number one hot, others may argue the honor belongs to Michael Jackson. IIn January 1970, The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back” topped the Billboard charts, featuring Michael, just 11 years 155 days old.

“I Want You Back” is the first national single by the Jackson 5.[3] It was released by Motown on October 7, 1969, and became the first number-one hit for the band on January 31, 1970.[4] It was performed on the band’s first television appearances, on October 18, 1969 on Diana Ross’s The Hollywood Palace and on their milestone performance on December 14, 1969 on The Ed Sullivan Show.

All I can say is “WOW.”

“I Want You Back” ranks number 121 on Rolling Stone’s list of the ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’. It also ranks ninth on Rolling Stone’s list of the ‘100 Greatest Pop Songs since 1963’. In 2020, it was ranked number 2 on Rolling Stone’s list of ‘The 100 Greatest Debut Singles of All Time’.

In 2006, Pitchfork named it the second-best song of the 1960s, adding that the chorus contains “possibly the best chord progression in pop music history”.A June 2009 article by The Daily Telegraph called it “arguably the greatest pop record of all time”. Digital Spy called the song “one of the most enduring pop singles of the sixties”.

What an amazing coincidence that the two youngest performers to have a number one hit didn’t fade into oblivion, but each went on to have phenomenal, ground-breaking careers.

sources:

Guinness World Records

Wikipedia

*image from Motherly

 

31 thoughts on “Music Monday: The Youngest Person to Have a Number One Song

  1. That kid in the cover is so cute! I’m not fan of Stevie Wonder I do have two or tree songs I like from him… although I love almost all of MJs songs, the only one I like from Jackson 5 is their Christmas song… mommy kissing santa something 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It will be interesting to see how Michael Jackson goes down in history. Nobody can deny his talent, but I have a hard time ignoring some of the incidents with children.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. While I will agree they both found success early in their careers, that may be where the similarities stop. MJ was a talented vocalist and consummate performer, but Stevie was a musical genius. Stevie went on to not only enjoy a highly successful solo career, but also wrote and produced music for other artists for decades at Motown. His influence and talent can be heard on so many songs. I love MJs music, but Stevie is the frickin’ man!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. each had/has an extremely natural talent, and their music is historical in its scope and sequence, but in their personal lives one ended up going down a dark path and the other chose to stay in the light. interesting what we do with our personal lives, vs. our private lives. no denying the talent, though –

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Two good careers beginning there, though Stevie Wonder is by far my preferred one of them.

    You can count yourselves lucky in the US. Our youngest ever solo UK number one was by Little Jimmy Osmond, at the age of 9. Proof that young girls and their mothers shouldn’t be allowed to buy records!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. For as long as I’ve enjoyed Stevie Wonder’s music (and I live only 40min from Saginaw and Detroit in opposite directions) I never knew his real name was ‘Stevland Hardaway Judkins’! So thanks for that. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Michael Jackson and “Little” Stevie Wonder, as he was known first, were/are both geniuses who leave amazing musical legacies. (Stevie Wonder would say his legacy remains incomplete.) Michael’s impact was profound worldwide. They are both two of my favorites although I like Michael’s music more. One of my favorite albums all-time is Off The Wall.

    In spite of allegations, it was never established that Jackson was a child molester. His fascination with kids was undeniably really weird. It seems certain that he suffered psychological damage as a child from a very strict upbringing that demanded perfection from his singing and performances. I don’t think he had much of a childhood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. there’s no doubt that they were both musical prodigies, but then their lives went in different directions after their childhood. MJ was definitely weird, but there is no crime against that. I am sure he had a difficult childhood, but as you point out, nothing was proved against him.

      Like

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