Special Report

These Are the Most Iconic Musical Duos in History

Source: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

5. The Righteous Brothers
> Biggest hit: You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
> Total songs on Hot 100: 23

The Righteous Brothers weren’t brothers, but in fact were the pairing of Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield. The blue-eyed soul duo from California, with Medley providing the baritone and Hatfield the tenor side of the singing, are famous for the Phil Spector-produced classic “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” in 1962 that was one of their two chart-toppers; “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration” was the other. Changing music tastes scuttled their career, though they did return to the Top 10 in 1974 with “Rock and Heaven,” a tribute to artists who died too soon. Hatfield would be one of them; he died in 2003.

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4. Beyoncé & Jay-Z
> Biggest hit: Crazy in Love
> Total songs on Hot 100: 9

Beyoncé and Jay-Z are not only a popular married couple, they’re a successful musical duo, having sent nine collaborative songs to the Hot 100 chart. The most successful of these was the chart-topper “Crazy in Love.” Other songs include “Drunk in Love,” which hit No. 2, and “’03 Bonnie & Clyde,” which peaked at No. 4. The two also released a full collaborative EP, “Everything Is Love,” under the name The Carters, which reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200. While the pair is far from the only duo producing hip-hop and R&B duets, they are among the most consistent with regards to creating hits.

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3. Simon & Garfunkel
> Biggest hit: Bridge Over Troubled Water
> Total songs on Hot 100: 17

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel became childhood friends in Queens in New York City and formed an act called Tom and Jerry. They would eventually become two of the most consequential musicians of the 1960s. The folk-pop duo tapped into the nation’s consciousness with songs like “America” and “Homeward Bound.” The soundtrack of the 1968 counterculture classic “The Graduate” included the pair’s timeless classics “Scarborough Fair,” “The Sound of Silence,” and “Mrs. Robinson.” The latter two songs were two of three chart-toppers (“Bridge Over Troubled Water” was the third). Eleven of their albums went platinum.

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2. The Everly Brothers
> Biggest hit: Cathy’s Clown
> Total songs on Hot 100: 31

Kentuckian kin Don and Phil Everly were both exceptionally popular and highly influential. They had 12 Top 10 hits, including the No. 1 “Cathy’s Clown.” Other memorable songs by the brothers — remembered for their melodic harmonizing — include “All I Have To Do Is Dream” and “Wake Up Little Susie,” though neither performed especially well on the singles chart. The group broke up in 1973, though reunited in the 1980s, during which time they recorded new music and continued touring. Phil died in 2014.

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1. Carpenters
> Biggest hit: Top of the World
> Total songs on Hot 100: 27

Americans looking to escape the political messaging in music of the divisive 1960s and 1970s found a safe place in the soothing soft-rock sound of brother and sister duo Karen and Richard Carpenter who generated a cavalcade of hits in the 1970s. After moving to California from Connecticut in the 1960s, the Carpenters won local music contests. Eventually A&M Records executive Herb Albert signed them. The Carpenters gained fame in 1970 with their version of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David song “(They Long to Be) Close to You.” It was the first of three No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 for The Carpenters. Over the next five years, they would become one of the biggest acts in the world, win three Grammy Awards, and place 12 songs in the Billboard Hot 100 Top 10. Eight of their albums would go platinum. Over the years their fame dimmed and their personal lives deteriorated. Richard Carpenter battled substance abuse while Karen struggled with anorexia nervosa. She died from complications related to the condition in 1983.