The Billboard Hot 100 Chart Was Born on This Day in 1958

When it comes to following and documenting the success of singles, the 800-pound gorilla in the music industry is the Billboard Hot 100 chart. While Billboard had been publishing various sorts of charts since before WWI, it wasn’t until August 4, 1958, that they formalized the Hot 100, a chart that endures today.

Point of trivia: One of the creators of the Hot 100 was a young kid named Seymour Stein, the guy who would later found Sire Records and sign the Ramones, the Talking Heads, Madonna and scores of others.

Let’s have Billboard tell the story.

“I look at my schooling as, in part, my early years at Billboard.”

That’s how Sire Records co-founder and chairman and Warner Bros. Records VP Seymour Stein, 73, recalls his industry education. On this date 57 years ago, that upbringing included the launch of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the magazine’s Aug. 4, 1958, issue. At the time, Stein was a high school student eager to learn, and help shape, the music business, soaking up information firsthand from insideBillboard‘s offices.

The Hot 100’s hot shot debut wasn’t front-page news, but it did make page two, in an editorial succinctly headlined “The Billboard Hot 100.” “On pages 36 and 37 of this issue, we are proud to present The Billboard Hot 100, the fastest, most complete and most sensitive index to the popularity of recorded music in America. This new chart feature, which each week will list the 100 most popular recorded sides, is a guide to potential, as well as the current hits.”

The more things change, the more the Hot 100’s mission has stayed the same.

Read on.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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