The Biggest Posthumous Hits In Australian Chart History

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The Biggest Posthumous Hits In Australian Chart History

posthumous hits
Michael Hutchence of INXS, 1988 (Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images), Prince, 1984 (Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns/Getty Images)

The death of a musician can have a huge impact on their back catalogue sales as mourning fans snap up albums. Every so often, a song by a late artist becomes a hit after their passing – in some cases, turning into a bigger success than it was during their lifetime.

“(Just Like) Starting Over” by John Lennon

Originally released: 1980

Peak: 1

This lead single from Double Fantasy was climbing the Australian chart at the time of the former Beatle’s murder on December 8, 1980 – on the chart for the week ending December 14, it was placed at number 6. Whether the song would have reached number 1 were it not for John’s death is something we’ll never know, but after dipping to number 8 the following week, it rallied and reached the top in late January 1981, spending four weeks there.

“What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong

Originally released: 1967

Peak: number 22

Re-released: 1988

Peak: number 1

The chart-topping success of this song two decades after it was released was not a reaction to the death of the singer and trumpet player – Louis had passed away in 1971. Rather, “What A Wonderful World” was re-released after being included in Robin Williams film Good Morning, Vietnam. It was Louis’ first number 1 in Australia since “A Theme From The Threepenny Opera (Mack The Knife)” reached the top in 1956.

“A Little Less Conversation” by Elvis Presley vs JXL

Originally released: 1968

Peak: number 64

Remixed and re-released: 2002

Peak: 1

A chart flop when originally released, this song, which had featured in 1968 film Live A Little, Love A Little, was given a new spin in 2002 following its use in another movie, Ocean’s Eleven. The remix by Junkie XL was the first time permission was granted by the Presley estate for an outsider to rework one of Elvis’ songs. It took the late singer, who had passed away in 1977, back to number 1 for the first time since “Suspicious Minds” reached the top in 1969.

“Ghetto Gospel” by 2Pac

Originally released: 2005

Peak: number 1

Rapper Tupac Shakur has had more music released since his death in 1996 than during his lifetime, with this single being lifted from 2004 album Loyal To The Game, which contained remixes of songs he had recorded before he was killed in a drive-by shooting. Produced by Eminem, “Ghetto Gospel” samples Elton John’s 1971 track “Indian Sunset”.

“Man In The Mirror” by Michael Jackson

Originally released: 1988

Peak: number 39

Re-entered: 2009

Peak: 8

When released as the fourth single from Bad in 1988, this ballad only just scraped into the ARIA top 40, compared to it becoming the fourth consecutive number 1 from the album in the US. Following the King of Pop’s death in 2009, it became the song fans most turned to, re-entering the chart thanks to downloads (something which made re-releases unnecessary) and finally becoming a major hit in Australia.

“Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS

Originally released: 1988

Peak: number 14

Re-entered: 2013

Peak: 11

Unlike most of the songs on this list, the fourth single from Kick had been a decent-sized hit during the lifetime of its singer, INXS frontman Michael Hutchence, who died in 1997. But “Never Tear Us Apart” managed to peak three places higher (although still just outside the top 10) in 2013-14 following the song’s use in promos for Channel Seven’s INXS miniseries of the same name.

“Purple Rain” by Prince And The Revolution

Originally released: 1984

Peak: number 41

Re-entered: 2016

Peak: 3

Like “Man In The Mirror”, this title track from Prince’s movie and soundtrack album of the same name hadn’t matched its overseas success here in Australia when first released, peaking just outside the top 40. Again, “Purple Rain” was the song fans downloaded and streamed the most in the weeks immediately after Prince’s death in 2016, and it became a much belated top 5 hit.




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