Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records, has often proudly spoken of his company’s determination to make music appealing to every race, creed and color. Nonetheless, most Motown artists first made their mark on rhythm & blues-formatted radio stations, leading to sales – and almighty achievements – on the record industry’s R&B rankings. Here are their longest-running Number Ones on the R&B/Soul/Black singles charts of Billboard from 1960-2000.

Stevie Wonder’s two triumphs in this Top 10 are both from his third decade of success, but he is also Motown’s all-time R&B chart champ: his records spent a total 67 weeks at the summit during this survey period. His first Number One was 1963’s “Fingertips – Pt. 2,” which reigned for six weeks.

Another Motown solo superstar, Lionel Richie, makes a two-time appearance here, although his first Number One came when he was a member of the Commodores, with “Slippery When Wet” in 1975. None of that group’s R&B chart-toppers ran for more than two weeks at the top, however.

What’s notable about this particular Top 10 is how it spans the decades, from the Miracles’ “Shop Around” (also Motown’s first pop-chart smash) and the Marvelettes’ “Please Mr. Postman” – both ruled in 1961 – to Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady,” which was Number One in 2000. And after Stevie, who spent the most time atop the R&B rankings? It has to be the temptin’ Temptations, accruing a total of 42 weeks at Number One, including eight with “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.”


Things you need to know. This time: the biggest Motown #1 hits in rhythm & blues

(ranked by weeks atop the Billboard R&B charts*)


 1)    “I’ll Make Love To You,” BOYZ II MEN (9) 1994

2)    “That Girl,” STEVIE WONDER (9) 1982

3)    “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch),” FOUR TOPS (9) 1965

4)    “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg,” TEMPTATIONS (8) 1966

5)    “Shop Around,” MIRACLES (8) 1961

6)    “Bag Lady,” ERYKAH BADU (7) 2000

7)    “Endless Love,” DIANA ROSS & LIONEL RICHIE (7) 1982

8)    “Master Blaster (Jammin’),” STEVIE WONDER (7) 1980

9)    “Please Mr. Postman,” MARVELETTES (7) 1961

10)   “All Night Long (All Night),” LIONEL RICHIE (7) 1983


*Ties broken by weeks on chart