Jewish Life

Your (Jewish) Hit Parade!

On Sunday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m., Beth El Temple in West Hartford will rock out with a concert called, appropriately enough, “Rock of Ages.” The evening will feature the Beethoven Violin Concerto and Artie Shaw’s Clarinet Concerto – and a “Tribute to Rock and Roll,” in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, plus the music of Led Zeppelin and the Moody Blues.

So what’s so Jewish about all that? Nothing really. But it got us thinking. Certainly, there’s been no shortage of Jewish artists that have topped the Billboard charts over the years. But just who are the Jewish musicians who have made the biggest impact on the charts over the decades. To find out, we checked out the ‘people of the charts’ (so to speak) – aka Billboard.

Turns out, Billboard has gathered together a list of the Tribe’s 30 biggest Billboard stars. The ranking is based on actual performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 since the chart launched in August 1958.

Begininng with #30 and working our way up the ladder, here’s a quick look at what we found. For details, visit


  1. David Guetta

The French DJ, whose Moroccan father is Jewish, helped EDM make a mainstream crossover with hit productions such as the Black Eyed Peas’ 2009 track “I Gotta Feeling” and his own smash “Turn Me On,” which features Nicki Minaj.


  1. Lenny Kravitz

Kravitz, whose dad is Jewish, fired up a vintage rock sound that earned multiplatinum status on albums such as 1993’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way” and 1998’s “Five.”


  1. KISS

Both Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of the larger-than-life hard-rock act are Jewish. The group exploded after 1975’s live set “Alive!,” bringing songs such as “Rock and Roll All Nite” to an audience of millions.


  1. Donald Fagen (Steely Dan)

Co-founded by Fagen, Steely Dan stands as one of the ‘70s’ most enigmatic groups. The band infused their sharp, sometimes sarcastic rock with jazz and studio perfectionism on albums such as the 1975 set “Katy Lied.”


  1. Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits)

Knopfler and Dire Straits hit the top 10 of the Hot 100 with 1979’s “Sultans of Swing.” The rockers’ biggest hit, “Money for Nothing,” features backing vocals by Sting.


  1. Bob Dylan

Few artists have carried more influence or been more provocative in the rock era than Dylan, born Robert Zimmerman, whose ‘60s protest songs gave way to an electric epiphany and a brief sojourn into gospel.


  1. The J. Geils Band

The hard-touring band – with four Jewish members – drew upon soul, blues and rock throughout the ‘70s. The band’s 1981 album “Freeze-Frame” spawned two singles that reached the top five of the Hot 100: the title song and “Centerfold.”


  1. Eric Carmen

After ‘70s power-pop beginnings with the Raspberries (and a Hot 100 No. 2 solo hit with “All By Myself”), the rocker wrote hits for the “Footloose” and “Dirty Dancing” soundtracks, hitting the top five with his own “Hungry Eyes” in 1988.


  1. Lesley Gore

The ‘60s singer was a successful solo voice during the girl-group era with songs such as “It’s My Party” and “You Don’t Own Me” – an influence on decades of independent women to come.


  1. Carole King

The prolific songwriter rose to fame notching hits for Aretha Franklin, the Crystals and other ‘60s stars, and she proved her solo chops with 1971’s big-selling “Tapestry” and the smash “It’s Too Late / I Feel the Earth Move.”


  1. Bette Midler

The Divine Miss M showcased her many talents on stage and screen. Her biggest hit encompassed both talents: 1989’s “Wind Beneath My Wings,” which reached No. 1, was from the film “Beaches,” in which the singer also co-starred.


  1. David Lee Roth (Van Halen)

Exuberant frontman David Lee Roth singing atop Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solos helped the hard-rock act dominate the late ‘70s/early ‘80s rock scene, earning a No. 1 hit with “Jump” in 1984.


  1. Chris Stein (Blondie)

Punk/new wave rockers Blondie wouldn’t have been Blondie without both Debbie Harry AND guitarist Chris Stein. From 1979 to 1981, the group scored a whopping four Hot 100 No. 1s including “Heart of Glass,” “Call Me,” “The Tide Is High,” and “Rapture.”


  1. Drake

The “Nothing Was The Same” MC, whose mom is Jewish, celebrated his heritage alongside Young Money label boss Lil Wayne in the bar mitzvah-themed video for “HYFR” last year. His biggest Hot 100 celebration so far has been his featured spot on Rihanna’s No. 1 hit “What’s My Name?”


  1. Susanna Hoffs (Bangles)

Led by singer-guitarist Susanna Hoffs, the all-female band became synonymous with the ‘80s thank to songs such as “Manic Monday” and “Walk Like an Egyptian.”


  1. Herb Alpert

The band leader reached the top 10 with The Tijuana Brass in the early ‘60s, but he rose to No. 1 with a memorable version of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “This Guy’s in Love with You” in 1968 and again with “Rise” in 1979.


  1. Carly Simon

With “You’re So Vain,” the ‘70s singer/songwriter, whose father is Jewish, posed a pop culture question that’s yet to be answered – who is the song about? – and scored a huge No. 1 hit along with several other Hot 100 top 10s.


  1. Paul Simon

Paul Simon has earned a spots on this list both as a member of Simon & Garfunkel and for his own solo career. His reached the Hot 100 top 10 for songs such as “Mother and Child Reunion” and “Kodachrome,” his top solo hit came in 1976 with the No. 1 song “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”


  1. Taylor Dayne

With debut album “Tell It To My Heart,” the dance-pop singer went double platinum and landed a handful of top 10 hits. She rose the highest, however, two years later with the ballad “Love Will Lead You Back,” which hit the top.


  1. Helen Reddy

The ‘60s and ‘70s singer-actress had 14 top 40 hits, with chart-toppers such as “Delta Dawn,” “Angie Baby” and “I Am Woman.”


  1. Simon & Garfunkel

Thanks to “The Sounds of Silence,” the New York duo comprised of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel became known as icons of the ‘60s folk movement (and earned two weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 in 1966 with the song while they were at it).


  1. Michael Bolton

The “Time, Love and Tenderness” singer took adult contemporary to a new level when his 1990 song “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” and his 1991 cover of “When a Man Loves a Woman,” which both became Hot 100 No. 1 hits.


  1. Adam Levine (Maroon 5)

Since early hits such as 2002’s “This Love,” the pop-rockers have made climbing the charts routine, with the band’s success extending to frontman Adam Levine’s role as a coach on “The Voice.”


  1. Neil Sedaka

The singer/songwriter’s songs landed him his first “American Bandstand” appearance in 1958. His ‘60s hit “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” was covered by everyone from the Partridge Family to the Four Seasons.


  1. Paula Abdul

The award-winning choreographer and “Straight Up” singer, who was a regular on the Hot 100 in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, found her next burst of fame at the judge’s table on the game-changing “American Idol.”


  1. Barry Manilow

The “I Write the Songs” singer had his beloved brand of pop immortalized on the stage and screen in the musical “Copacabana.”


  1. Pink

The “Get the Party Started” singer has become one of the decade’s biggest, boldest pop divas. Her biggest hit (so far) came as a collaboration with singers Christina Aguilera, Mya, and Lil Kim on a 2001 cover of “Lady Marmalade.”


  1. Barbra Streisand

With a career spanning film, Broadway and music, the “Funny Girl” star has released No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 across decades – and picked up Oscars and Grammys along the way.


  1. Neil Diamond

Penning the Monkees’ “I’m a Believer” made him a songwriting star, but solo hits such as “Sweet Caroline” and “Song Sung Blue” made him a music legend in his own right.


  1. Billy Joel

The “Piano Man” and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer boasts seven Hot 100 top five hits – spanning decades – including a trio of No. 1s: “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” and “Tell Her About It.”

Great holiday gift: The Pineapple
“Converting to Reform Judaism,” by Rabbi Harold S. Silver
Nov. 17 Book launch: A Life of the Land

Leave Your Reply