(January 6, 2024).  As many readers know by now, 80-year-old actor and singer David Soul, best known for his role as Kenneth “Hutch” Hutchinson in the late-1970s TV police bromance series Starsky and Hutch, died Thursday (Jan. 4) in his hometown of London.

Aside from Starsky and Hutch, which ran for  four seasons on ABC from 1975-79, Soul made a number of other film and TV appearances, including in 1973’s Magnum Force — the Clint Eastwood “Dirty Harry” vehicle where Soul played Officer John Davis — and the 1979 vampire series Salem’s Lot.  He even made appearances in popular TV shows like I Dream of JeannieStar Trek and All In The Family.

But for us pop music fans, the late singer-songwriter is best remembered for his lone top-40 hit here in America, the worldwide No. 1 smash “Don’t Give Up On Us.”

That song came out in the beginning of 1977 at the height of Soul’s popularity on Starsky and Hutch.  It debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 (at a modest No. 74) on January 29, 1977, and nearly three months later climbed into the No. 1 spot, matching a feat it had already accomplished in the U.K., New Zealand, Australia and other countries.

But as “Don’t Give Up On Us” inched its way from No. 4 to 3 then 2 and finally No. 1 on the chart dated April 16, it unwittingly found itself in the middle of a chart anomaly that hadn’t occurred before or since … a feat this blogger refers to as the only “3D” moment in the Billboard Hot 100’s 65-plus-year history, and one that only chart geeks like yours truly will appreciate.

First, it’s important to know which two songs immediately preceded and succeeded Soul’s classic at the top.  During the chart week of April 9, the No. 1 song was ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.”  Two weeks later, after Soul’s “Don’t Give Up On Us” took its turn, Thelma Houston’s disco classic “Don’t Leave Me This Way” replaced him at the pinnacle.

Thus, three titles — each beginning with the letter “D” — took consecutive turns at No. 1, something that had never happened in Billboard Hot 100 history. 

In fact, it was only the sixth time in Billboard history that three consecutive songs beginning with any same letter had turned the hat trick.

In 1963, “I Will Follow Him” (Little Peggy March), “If You Wanna Be Happy” (Jimmy Soul) and “It’s My Party” (Leslie Gore) became the first trio of No. 1 hits to pull this off.

In 1965, four more songs beginning with the letter “I” did the trick: “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” (Four Tops), “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (Rolling Stones), “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” (Herman’s Hermits), and “I Got You Babe” (Sonny & Cher).

Then, in 1972, the first and only occurrence involving the letter “B” happened when “Black and White” (Three Dog Night), “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me” (Mac Davis), and “Ben” (Michael Jackson) took successive turns at the top. 

In 1973-74, another foursome matched the 1965 high mark when the following “T” songs replaced each other at No. 1: “Top of the World” (Carpenters), “The Most Beautiful Girl” (Charlie Rich), “Time In A Bottle” (Jim Croce), and “The Joker” (Steve Miller Band).

And then later in 1974, the “T’s” had it again when “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)” by MFSB was replaced by Grand Funk’s remake of “The Locomotion,” which in turn was replaced by Ray Steven’s novelty smash “The Streak,” making that the only time — TSOP acronym aside — that three songs beginning with the article “The” took consecutive turns at No. 1.

David Soul’s No. 1 smash and only American Top 40 hit: “Don’t Give Up On Us” (1977)

But nearly three years passed before David Soul and his adjacent No. 1 artists ABBA and Thelma Houston added the letter “D” to this rare chart occurrence.  And, ironically, their example involved Soul’s wistful ballad being sandwiched between two disco classics in “Dancing Queen” and “Don’t Leave Me This Way.”

It was made ironic by the fact that the same thing nearly occurred exactly one year earlier involving the same letter and similar circumstances: another ballad by a male soloist and two disco classics — one by another famous quartet, the other by a soul legend.

That was when, in spring 1976, an eerie ballad by Gary Wright titled “Dream Weaver” inched up to No. 2 behind the Four Seasons’ “December 1963 (Oh What A Night), which was completing its run at No. 1.  “Dream” looked like a sure-fire replacement for “December” at the top, except it was hopped over by Johnnie Taylor’s “Disco Lady,” which held “Dream Weaver” to its No. 2 peak for a second and third week in April, never to reach No. 1.

Thus, David Soul remains a part of chart history — along with ABBA and Thelma Houston — as owners of the only three-song trilogy of No. 1 hits beginning with the letter “D,” or the Hot 100’s only “3D” moment.

What’s more impressive is, in the 47 years since the ABBA-Soul-Houston “D” trifecta, only one other letter has repeated this extremely rare feat.  In May 2020, three songs beginning with the letter “S” took successive one-week turns at No. 1: “Say So” by Doja Cat ft. Nicki Minaj, “Stuck With U” by Ariana Grande & Justin Bieber, and “Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion ft. Beyoncé, making that the chart’s only “3S” moment.

Of course, 3S doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as 3D, unless one notes that the only two occurrences of this in the past nearly half century involve the letters D and S, which happen to be David Soul’s initials.

They also happen to be the first letters of the titles of Soul’s two No. 1 hits in the U.K.: “Don’t Give Up On Us” and “Silver Lady,” the latter of which hit No. 1 there in October 1977 (thereby removing him from one-hit-wonder status in that country).

And did I mention that the song that knocked Soul’s “Don’t Give Up On Us” out of No. 1 in the U.K. was another “Don’t”:  “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” by Julie Covington?  Doesn’t that make it even more uncanny that it was a different “Don’t” (Thelma Houston’s) that took Soul to task on the Hot 100 in America?

The geeky chart trivia sometimes just writes itself!

Of course, Soul was never able to match the chart success of “Don’t Give Up On Us” stateside, but he will be forever remembered for it and his many other contributions to show business for over half a century.

David Soul (1943-2024)

May the late David Soul (August 28, 1943 – January 4, 2024) rest in peace, and may his most unique trivia factoid — one you’ll never find in Wikipedia — remain etched in your memory forever.


DJRob (he/him), chart geek, is a freelance music blogger from the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, disco, pop, rock and (sometimes) country genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff!  You can follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @djrobblog and on Meta’s Threads.

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