How Long It Took Famous Musicians to Get Their First Hit

Shaunacy Ferro
John Pratt/Keystone/Getty Images
John Pratt/Keystone/Getty Images / John Pratt/Keystone/Getty Images

Not every groundbreaking artist is recognized immediately for their genius. At least not by the general public. It took AC/DC 40 years to get a Top 10 hit—thanks to a fan campaign for “Highway to Hell”—and while that’s an outlier among rock icons, most of the world’s most famous bands didn’t find success right off the bat. put together this graphic dive into the success timelines of popular musicians dating back to the 1960s, all sourced from Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists list. The pink lines show the band’s formation through its breakup, and the white starburst shows when they got their first chart-topping single in the U.S. or the UK. The visualization only counts “hits” as singles that break the Top 10 of a chart, so even though AC/DC had charted before 2013, for instance, this only shows when bands attained mainstream super-success. Explore the chart of chart-toppers for yourself below.

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