Martino, recipient of the 1st UK No 1 Single.
The first British singles chart was published in the November 14, 1952 edition
of the New Musical Express. It was at first little more than a gimmick, a tool
in the circulation war against NME's much older (and more popular) rival Melody
The chart, at first a top 12, was the creation of the paper's advertising
manager, Percy Dickins, who compiled it by telephoning around 20 major record
stores and aggregating their sales reports. He would continue to personally oversee
the compilation of the chart well into the 1960s.
The chart rapidly became one of the paper's most popular
features. After only a few weeks, it started being quoted
in record company advertisements and press releases.
The chart also spawned imitators - Record Mirror launched
its own chart in 1955 and Melody Maker in 1958.
The forerunner of today's official chart first appeared
in the music trade publication Record Retailer (now Music
Week) in 1960 as a Top 50, but was not immediately recognised
as the definitive chart in the country.
of the Pops
NME chart was still the most recognised chart, and had
the advantage of widespread exposure due to its use by
Throughout the sixties, the various
different charts vied for public recognition, leading
to some historical anomalies — for example, The
Beatles' second single "Please Please Me" was
a number one on most charts, but not in Record Retailer.
To add to the confusion, the chart used by the BBC on
their popular shows Pick of the Pops and Top Of The Pops
was actually calculated by averaging out all the others,
and so didn't agree with any of them, and was prone to
It wasn't until 1969 that a truly reliable, official
chart emerged, from an alliance between the BBC and Record
Retailer. For the first time a professional polling organisation,
BMRB, was commissioned to oversee the chart, and a pool
of 500 record shops was used - more than twice as many
as had been used for any previous chart. The new Official
Top 50 was inaugurated in the week ending 12 February
In 1978, the singles chart was extended from a Top 50
to a Top 75.
In 1982, BMRB lost their contract to Gallup, who arranged
for electronic data gathering to replace the old sales
diary method of compilation. The first chart terminals
appeared in record shops in 1984. As a result, in October
1987, it was now possible for the chart, incorporating
sales up to close of business on Saturday, to be announced
on Sunday afternoon, rather than being delayed until
Tuesday as was previously the case.