Reggae legend Bob Marley’s most successful album, Legend: The Best of Bob Marley and The Wailers, is back on the Billboard 200 at No. 170 this week. That lowly placement isn’t anywhere near the heights that one of the most highly-respected artists of all time has reached here in America, but this frame is special for him and his compilation, as it hits an incredibly rare milestone that has only been reached once before.
This week is No. 500 for Legend on the all-genre tally, and it shouldn’t be difficult to believe that virtually no records last that long on the chart. In fact, Marley’s bestselling release is just the second album in history to spend at least 500 frames somewhere in between Nos. 1 and No. 200, and it’s still rather far behind the title with the most turns on the listing. According to Billboard Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon has now spent 934 weeks on the chart, and it continues to bounce on and off even to this day, so that number will surely continue to rise.
Legend was initially released more than 30 years ago in 1984, and it has never dwindled in popularity in the decades since. It’s incredible that it has managed to move thousands of units (originally sales, now equivalent units) every single week since then, and many times, it shifts enough to place somewhere on the Billboard 200, beating out tens of thousands of newer titles.According to the same article that revealed Marley’s latest accomplishment, it seems like he and his band would have claimed this feat a long time ago, if it weren’t for a charting rule that changed years back…and not in their favor. For well over a decade, albums that were deemed catalog albums (records that are over 18 months old) were not eligible to place on the Billboard 200, and instead, a separate chart was made to rank those still-important titles. That rule was changed again after over a decade, and once older titles were allowed back, Marley and company returned in short order.
Of course, Legend hasn’t been present on the Billboard 200 for 500 consecutive weeks, but it charts quite more often for something that’s been around for so long, and it’s usually a toss-up when it will be named one of the 200 most popular records in the U.S. and when it won’t.Legend remains Marley’s highest-charting release in America, and easily his most successful. The title peaked at No. 5, and it is one of only two top 10 collections. Amazingly, while it has now spent almost 10 years (when all the weeks are combined) on the most important albums ranking and outsold countless other popular records, not a single track featured on the greatest hits compilation, including songs now considered standards like “No Woman, No Cry,” “Buffalo Soldier” and “One Love,” never even charted. In his lifetime, Marley unbelievably never managed a single Top 40 hit in America. The fact that a record filled with tracks that underperformed and failed to chart now has the second-most weeks on the albums list is incredible, and a true testament to the enduring power of Marley’s music.