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There is a common misconception that only modern artists like Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber can rule YouTube and create videos that generate millions of hits. In fact there are plenty of classic artists whose staying power has earned them top spots on the video-sharing site. Stars like Elvis, The Beatles and many more may have had humble beginnings on a colourless square-shaped box (the television), but they now dominate the internet and millions of people are still listening to their favourite classics on the web.
Here are some of the most viewed videos from some of the best-known music legends of our time.
1. The Beatles — I want to hold your hand
Formed in Liverpool in the early 1960s, The Beatles are probably one of the most loved and commercially successful bands of our time. As the best-selling band in history, and with their songs having become ritual sing-alongs in karaoke bars around the world, the legends, namely: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, are being kept alive on YouTube where their videos have reached millions of views.
2. Son House — Death Letter Blues
In 1902, decades before the computer was even an idea and at a time when people were still getting used to the magic of a camera, the American blues singer and guitarist, Eddie James “Son” House, Jr. was born. House’s style is unique with repetitive rhythms, played with a slide guitar. In 1930 he made his first recordings at Paramount Records and after drifting into obscurity till 1964 his music underwent a “rediscovery” driven by the American folk revival of that time. Now, his music is undergoing another resurrection on YouTube. This classic has reached over 2.3-million views.
3. Elvis Presley — Jailhouse Rock
Released in 1957 to coincide with Elvis Presley’s motion picture Jailhouse Rock, the song enjoyed huge success. Although originally written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Elvis made the song a massive hit that is still enjoyed by millions on the web and off. It was also named #67 on the Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list.
4. Ray Charles — Hit The Road Jack
Originally written by rhythm and bluesman Percy Mayfield, the song became famous thanks to singer and pianist Ray Charles who kept it on the Billboard Hot 100 at the number one spot for two weeks. It also takes the 377th spot on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list. This live recording has been viewed 38 465 661 times so far.
5. Nancy Sinatra — These Boots Are Made For Walking
This is probably one of the most recognisable classics ever. In 1966 it reached number one on the UK and US pop charts. Jessica Simpson, however annoyingly, recorded her own version for the 2005 film The Dukes of Hazzard. Despite Simpson being scantily clad in a pink bikini and drenched in foam from washing a car, the original performance by Sinatra still has the most views on YouTube — proving that nothing beats the original.
6. The Animals — House of the Rising Sun
Originally an American folk song that tells the tale of a life gone wrong in New Orleans, English rock group The Animals made this hit a commercial success. Another version of the song’s true origin is held by Alan Price of The Animals who is of the belief that the song is actually English and about a Soho brothel, and was later adapted in New Orleans by emigrants. Either way, now there’s a YouTube version too.
7. Bill Withers — Ain’t No Sunshine
It is said that Withers was inspired to write the song after he watched the film Days of Wine and Roses in 1962. Talking about the characters he said: “They were both alcoholics who were alternately weak and strong. It’s like going back for seconds on rat poison. Sometimes you miss things that weren’t particularly good for you. It’s just something that crossed my mind from watching that movie, and probably something else that happened in my life that I’m not aware of.” The song became a hit nine years later in 1971, reaching the top spot on charts.