These are the biggest hits of the pre-rock era before "Heartbreak Hotel" by Elvis Presley hit #1 in 1956. Doing this exercise gets a little complicated as the earliest music charts go all the back to 1890.  At that time, Thomas Edison had just invented the phonograph and many phonograph companies were being incorporated in the 1890's including the North American Phonograph Company founded by Thomas Edison.  Also Columbia, the Berliner Grammophone Company and the Victor Talking Machine Company.   Also influencing the early charts was the sales of sheet music.  Early influences were John Philip Sousa and Scott Joplin.  Technologies changed by the early 1920s with the introduction of radio and new recording techniques.  Also in the early years, publications were every 2 weeks or less than once a month, so there was no accurate weekly surveys. The first recorded #1 song was from Aug. 1890 by the U.S. Marine Band under the leadership of John Philip Sousa called "Semper Fidelas" which was number 1 for 6 weeks followed by "Washington Post" also by the U.S. Marine Band.

     Our countdown begins in January, 1920 when "Dardanella" by Ben Selvin's Novelty Orchestra hits #1  for 13 weeks becoming the first record to sell more than 3 million copies. 

TOP 40  SINGLES 1920-MARCH, 1956 

1. NEAR YOU                           FRANCIS CRAIG & HIS ORCHESTRA (17 WEEKS) 1947
2. White Christmas                      Bing Crosby (14 weeks) (11 in 1942) (2 in 1945) (1 in 1946)
3. Frenesi                                    Artie Shaw (13 weeks) 1940
4. My Blue Heaven                      Gene Austin (13) 1927
5. The Tennessee Waltz                Patti Page (13) 1950
6. I've Heard That Song Before     Harry James  (13) 1943
7. Goodnight, Irene                       Weavers with Gordon Jenkins (13) 1950
8. Dardanella                                Ben Selvin & his Orchestra (13) 1920
9. The Gypsy                                Ink Spots (13) 1946
10. Heartaches                              Ted Weems & his Orchestra (13) 1947
11. Paper Doll                               Mills Brothers (12) 1943
12. The Prisoner's Song                Vernon Dalhart (12) 1926
13. In the Mood                            Glenn Miller (12) 1940
14. You Belong to Me                   Jo Stafford (12)  1952
15. Riders in the Sky                     Vaughn Monroe & his Orchestra (12) 1949
16. I'll Never Smile Again            Tommy Dorsey with Frank Sinatra (12) 1940
17. Sonny Boy                              Al Jolson (12) 1928
18. Vaya Con Dios                        Les Paul & Mary Ford (11) 1953
19. The Third Man Theme              Anton Karas (11) 1950
20. The Third Man Theme              Guy Lombardo & his Royal Canadians (11) 1950
21. Cry                                          Johnny Ray (11) 1951
22. Oh! What it Seemed to be         Frankie Carle & his Orchestra (11) 1946
23. Whispering                              Paul Whiteman & his Orchestra (11) 1920
24. Cheek to Cheek                        Fred Astaire (11) 1935
25. April Showers                          Al Jolson (11) 1922
26. Valencia                                  Paul Whiteman (11) 1926
27. Because of You                        Tony Bennett (10) 1951
28. Cherry Pink, Apple Blossom White  Perez Prado (10) 1955
29. Sweet Leilani                            Bing Crosby (10) 1937
30. Buttons and Bows                     Dinah Shore (10) 1948
31. Wheel of Fortune                      Kay Starr (10) 1952
32. Song from Moulin Rouge           Percy Faith (10) 1953
33. In a Shanty in Old Shanty Town   Ted Lewis & his Band (10) 1932
34. Ballerina                                    Vaughn Monroe & his Orchestra (10) 1947
35. I Went to Your Wedding             Patti Page (10) 1952
36. Stein Song (University of Maine) Rudy Valee & his Connecticut Yankees (10) 1930
37. Sincerely                                    McGuire Sisters (10) 1955
38. Rum and Coca Cola                    Andrews Sisters (10) 1945
39. Til the End of Time                    Perry Como (10) 1945
40. A Tisket A Tasket                      Ella Fitzgerald (10) 1938