List of Hot Country Singles number ones of 1981

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A blonde-haired woman wearing a sparkly blue jacket playing a banjo on stage
Barbara Mandrell topped the chart with "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool", which came to be regarded as her signature song.[1]

Hot Country Songs is a chart that ranks the top-performing country music songs in the United States, published by Billboard magazine. In 1981, 48 different singles topped the chart, then published under the title Hot Country Singles, in 52 issues of the magazine, based on playlists submitted by country music radio stations and sales reports submitted by stores.[2]

Alabama, Razzy Bailey, T.G. Sheppard and Hank Williams Jr. tied for the most number ones of the year, with three chart-toppers each. As Alabama's "Feels So Right" was one of the few songs to spend a second week at number one, the band had the highest total number of weeks in the top spot, with four. Ten other acts achieved more than one number one in 1981. Several acts topped the chart for the first time in 1981: Charly McClain with "Who's Cheatin' Who",[3] Sylvia with "Drifter",[4] Rosanne Cash with "Seven Year Ache",[5] Earl Thomas Conley with "Fire and Smoke",[6] Ronnie McDowell with "Older Women",[7][8] Steve Wariner with "All Roads Lead to You",[9] and the duo of David Frizzell and Shelly West with "You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma".[10][11] Shelly West's appearance at number one fell between two chart-toppers achieved in 1981 by her mother, Dottie West.[12]

"King of Rock and Roll" Elvis Presley, who had died in 1977,[13] achieved a posthumous number one in March with the single "Guitar Man". Upon its original release in 1967, the song had been a minor hit on Billboard's all-genres chart, the Hot 100. More than three years after his death, however, the song was re-released to promote a similarly-titled album which combined existing Presley vocals with new instrumental backing tracks created in Nashville by producer Felton Jarvis, and this time became a country number one.[14][15] Two songs which topped the country chart consecutively in January also topped the Hot 100, albeit several weeks later. Eddie Rabbitt's "I Love a Rainy Night" topped the country chart in the issue of Billboard dated January 10, and was replaced the following week by Dolly Parton's "9 to 5". On the Hot 100, Parton's song reached the top in the issue dated February 21,[16] was replaced by Rabbitt's song the following week,[17] but then returned to the top spot in the issue dated March 14.[18] The two songs were among just four country songs which topped the Hot 100 during the 1980s, and the only two to do so consecutively.[19] Both songs, along with "I Don't Need You" by Kenny Rogers, also crossed over to adult contemporary radio with sufficient impact to top Billboard's Adult Contemporary airplay chart,[20] reflecting increasing pop and soft rock influences on mainstream country music.[21]

Chart history[edit]

A woman with blonde curly hair holding a baby and smiling broadly
Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" was a country chart-topper and also reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
A man with dark hair wearing a light-coloured jacket
A re-release of Elvis Presley's "Guitar Man" gave the "King of Rock and Roll" a country number one more than three years after his death in 1977.
A woman with long dark hair wearing a dark top
Dottie West had two number ones in 1981. Her daughter Shelly West had one.
Issue date Title Artist(s) Ref.
January 3 "One in a Million" Johnny Lee [22]
January 10 "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink" Merle Haggard [23]
January 17 "I Love a Rainy Night" Eddie Rabbitt [24]
January 24 "9 to 5" Dolly Parton [25]
January 31 "I Feel Like Loving You Again" T.G. Sheppard [26]
February 7 "I Keep Coming Back" / "True Life Country Music"[a] Razzy Bailey [27]
February 14 "Who's Cheatin' Who" Charly McClain [28]
February 21 "Southern Rains" Mel Tillis [29]
February 28 "Are You Happy Baby" Dottie West [30]
March 7 "Do You Love as Good as You Look" The Bellamy Brothers [31]
March 14 "Guitar Man" Elvis Presley [32]
March 21 "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground" Willie Nelson [33]
March 28 "Texas Women" Hank Williams Jr. [34]
April 4 "Drifter" Sylvia [35]
April 11 "You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma" David Frizzell and Shelly West [36]
April 18 "Old Flame" Alabama [37]
April 25 "A Headache Tomorrow (Or a Heartache Tonight)" Mickey Gilley [38]
May 2 "Rest Your Love on Me" / "I Am the Dreamer (You Are the Dream)"[a] Conway Twitty [39]
May 9 "Am I Losing You" Ronnie Milsap [40]
May 16 "I Loved 'Em Every One" T.G. Sheppard [41]
May 23 "Seven Year Ache" Rosanne Cash [42]
May 30 "Elvira" The Oak Ridge Boys [43]
June 6 "Friends" / "Anywhere There's a Jukebox"[a] Razzy Bailey [44]
June 13 "What Are We Doin' in Love" Dottie West with Kenny Rogers [45]
June 20 "But You Know I Love You" Dolly Parton [46]
June 27 "Blessed Are the Believers" Anne Murray [47]
July 4 "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool" Barbara Mandrell [48]
July 11 "Fire and Smoke" Earl Thomas Conley [49]
July 18 "Feels So Right" Alabama [50]
July 25 [51]
August 1 "Dixie on My Mind" Hank Williams Jr. [52]
August 8 "Too Many Lovers" Crystal Gayle [53]
August 15 "I Don't Need You" Kenny Rogers [54]
August 22 [55]
August 29 "(There's) No Gettin' Over Me" Ronnie Milsap [56]
September 5 [57]
September 12 "Older Women" Ronnie McDowell [58]
September 19 "You Don't Know Me" Mickey Gilley [59]
September 26 "Tight Fittin' Jeans" Conway Twitty [60]
October 3 "Midnight Hauler" Razzy Bailey [61]
October 10 "Party Time" T.G. Sheppard [62]
October 17 "Step by Step" Eddie Rabbitt [63]
October 24 "Never Been So Loved (In All My Life)" Charley Pride [64]
October 31 [65]
November 7 "Fancy Free" The Oak Ridge Boys [66]
November 14 "My Baby Thinks He's a Train" Rosanne Cash [67]
November 21 "All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)" Hank Williams Jr. [68]
November 28 "My Favorite Memory" Merle Haggard [69]
December 5 "Bet Your Heart on Me" Johnny Lee [70]
December 12 "Still Doin' Time" George Jones [71]
December 19 "All Roads Lead to You" Steve Wariner [72]
December 26 "Love in the First Degree" Alabama [73]

a. ^ Double A-sided single

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Betts, Stephen L. (February 5, 2016). "See Miranda Lambert Sing Barbara Mandrell's 'I Was Country'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2005). Joel Whitburn's Top Country Songs: 1944-2005. Record Research. p. ix. ISBN 9780898201659.
  3. ^ Bufwack, Mary A. (2003). Finding Her Voice: Women in Country Music, 1800-2000. Country Music Foundation Press. p. 346. ISBN 9780826514325.
  4. ^ Fitzharris, Dustin (October 11, 2016). "Country Music's Sylvia Returns With New Music And A New Outlook On Life". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  5. ^ Thompson, Gayle (May 23, 2017). "36 Years Ago: Rosanne Cash Earns First No. 1 Single with 'Seven Year Ache'". The Boot. Townsquare Media. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  6. ^ Kingsbury, Paul; McCall, Michael; Rumble, Paul, eds. (2004). The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Oxford University Press. p. 108. ISBN 9780199770557.
  7. ^ Huey, Steve. "Ronnie McDowell Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  8. ^ "Ronnie McDowell Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  9. ^ Nolan-Wilson, Donna (May 22, 2015). "10 best Steve Wariner songs". AXS TV. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  10. ^ "Shelly West Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  11. ^ Kingsbury, Paul; McCall, Michael; Rumble, Paul, eds. (2004). The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Oxford University Press. p. 184. ISBN 9780199770557.
  12. ^ Carlin, Richard (2014). Country Music: A Biographical Dictionary. Routledge. p. 424. ISBN 9781135361044.
  13. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Elvis Presley Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
  14. ^ Collins, Ace (2005). Untold Gold: The Stories Behind Elvis's #1 Hits. Chicago Review Press. p. 251. ISBN 9781569765074.
  15. ^ Stefano, Angela (February 17, 2019). "Blake Shelton Sings 'Guitar Man' With Elvis Presley During 'All-Star Tribute'". The Boot. Townsquare Media. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  16. ^ "Hot 100 chart for February 21, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  17. ^ "Hot 100 chart for February 28, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  18. ^ "Hot 100 chart for March 14, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  19. ^ Garner, Kelly K. (2016). So You Want to Sing Country: A Guide for Performers. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 31. ISBN 9781442246416.
  20. ^ "Adult Contemporary - 1981 Archive". Billboard. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  21. ^ "Country-Pop Music Genre Overview". AllMusic. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  22. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for January 3, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  23. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for January 10, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  24. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for January 17, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  25. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for January 24, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  26. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for January 31, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  27. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for February 7, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  28. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for February 14, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  29. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for February 21, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  30. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for February 28, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  31. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for March 7, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  32. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for March 14, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  33. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for March 21, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  34. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for March 28, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  35. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for April 4, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  36. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for April 11, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  37. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for April 18, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  38. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for April 25, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  39. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for May 2, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  40. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for May 9, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  41. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for May 16, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  42. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for May 23, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  43. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for May 30, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  44. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for June 6, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  45. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for June 13, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  46. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for June 20, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  47. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for June 27, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  48. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for July 4, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  49. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for July 11, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  50. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for July 18, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  51. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for July 25, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  52. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for August 1, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  53. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for August 8, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  54. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for August 15, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  55. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for August 22, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  56. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for August 29, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  57. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for September 5, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  58. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for September 12, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  59. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for September 19, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  60. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for September 26, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  61. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for October 3, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  62. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for October 10, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  63. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for October 17, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  64. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for October 24, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  65. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for October 31, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  66. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for November 7, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  67. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for November 14, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  68. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for November 21, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  69. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for November 28, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  70. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for December 5, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  71. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for December 12, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  72. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for December 19, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.
  73. ^ "Hot Country Songs chart for December 26, 1981". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2010.