Posthumous Top Rankings on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart

The Billboard Hot 100 Chart debuted in the 4th of August, 1958, and has since had a significant influence to pop music especially in the Americas. Six decades down the line, this Chart still ranks as the top-ranking platforms for American rap and pop music for. The rankings are carried out every week. As expected, the death of a renowned artist sparks a spirit of togetherness to commemorate their passing. Such scenarios usually lead to the artists taking up pole position in the Billboard Top 100 after their demise, with some claiming the top position for days up to several weeks. Here are some of the highly-ranked musicians and their respective songs which ranked atop the Hot 100 list in the event of their death.

Otis Redding with the Song “The Dock of the Bay”: No. 1 on the Chart on 16 March 1968

Otis Redding passed away aged 26 years old in a fatal air crash on 10th December 1967. Two months after his demise, his track “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” made to the top of the Hot 100 Chart, after nineteen past entries that never made it beyond number twenty-one on the list.


Upon reaching the summit, the track stayed atop for four weeks, gaining a vast influence amongst various cover artists such as Michael Bolton.

“Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin: Pole Position on the Hot 100 on 20 March 1971

Janis, the renowned rock pioneer, passed on as a result of overdosing on heroin in the fateful day of 4th October 1970, aged twenty-seven years old.


Five months after her death, Joplin rose to the top spot on the Chart with the song “Me and Bobby McGee,” a position she claimed for two weeks despite being the only solo hit to have ever debuted in this competitive platform. Later in her death, she claimed at least four retrospective entries on the Billboard rankings.

Jim Croce – the Solo Hit “Time in a Bottle”: Ranked atop Billboard Chart on 29 December 1973

After his death in a fatal airplane crash on September 1973, Jim took the top position on the Chart in December the same year, maintaining the position for a couple of hits with the hit single “Time in a Bottle.”


Before this posthumous accolade, Jim had topped the Chart in July of the same year with the popular hit “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” also for a couple of weeks. Two of his hit singles have since been ranked among the top 10 in the list since his demise.

“Starting Over” by John Lennon: Pole Position on the Billboard 100 Chart on 27 December 1980

John Lennon was murdered on the 8th of December, 1980. “(Just Like) Starting Over” hit the Chart Hot 100, claiming the top position for at least five weeks, thus making the hit his greatest of all time.


He had beforehand taken the top spot in November 1974 with the hit single “Whatever Gets You Through the Night.”

“More Money More Problems” and “Hypnotize” by Notorious B.I.G.: Both atop the Chart on 30 August 1997 and 3 May 1997 Respectively

Undoubtedly the most respected artist of the 1990’s B.I.G. is the only artist who has claimed two top rankings on the reputable Chart posthumously. Notorious was fatally shot on 9th March 1997, after which two of his after-death top rankings coming shortly afterward in May and August, with both claiming the top spot for two weeks each.


Biggie was also on the brink of earning a third top rank with the track that featured Mase and P. Diddy titled “Been Around the World,” but this only made it to the top two.

“Slow Motion” by Soulja Slim and Juvenile: Ranked Top of the Chart on 7 August 2004

Soulja Slim was shot dead on the 26th of November, 2003. Nine months upon his demise, in 7th August 2004, his solo hit made it to the Billboard’s pole position.


The hit single which featured Juvenile claimed the top spot for a fortnight.

Static Major (Feat. Lil Wayne) – Lollipop: Rose to the Top of the Chart on 3 May 2003

After his tragic demise on the 25th of February, 2008 caused by massive internal bleeding, Static ranked atop the Chart posthumously, thanks to his single entry to ever reach the Top 100 rankings.


The artist featured in the renowned single, “Lollipop” with Lil Wayne. The track made its debut on the Chart on March the same year, eventually rising to the top in 2 months where it stayed for one month and one week.

XXX Tentacion with the Hit Single “Sad”: Reigned the Chart on 30 June 2018

The highly controversial rapper, XXX Tentacion died of a gunshot wound on 18th June 2018. His hit single, “Sad!” had previously made it to the Top 200 of the Chart, ranking at number 7. After XXX’s fatal shooting, the hit rose to the top spot in the Chart where it stayed atop for at least one week.


XXX Tentacion’s life was full of hullabaloos and other legal troubles, some of which contributed to the track’s success on the rankings and perhaps a chief cause of his fatal shooting. Before his demise, the artist was facing more than ten felony charges alongside other cases of domestic abuse against his pregnant fiancée.

In conclusion, the Billboard Top 100 Chart is a highly competitive platform for ranking top artist’s music, whether dead or alive. Over the past six decades, the platform has acclaimed the golden standard regarding music rankings in the Americas. Often, as highlighted by this review, most of these top posthumous accolades can be associated with the controversial deaths of some of the artists, a factor which has been considered as contributory to these top rankings.