Music industry executives who are obsessed with first week sales numbers could take a patience lesson from Whitney Houston. The star’s self-titled debut album reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts on March 8, 1986 — more than a year after it was released on Valentine’s Day in 1985.
Whitney Houston is best remembered and cherished for the epic number one singles Saving All My Love for You, How Will I Know and Greatest Love of All, but their chart success alone wasn’t enough to carry the album to the top.
The album’s late ascent to the charts, 55 weeks after its release, was thanks to Houston’s appearance on the 28th Annual Grammy Awards on February 25, 1986. Houston, then 22, was nominated for four awards and took home one for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female for Saving All My Love for You. She garnered a lot of attention during that awards cycle as her exclusion from the Best New Artist category due to having appeared on duets albums by Jermaine Jackson and Teddy Pendergrass stirred considerable controversy.
Whitney Houston would flirt with the number one position on and off for the next three months. At the time, Billboard reported that the achievement was just one week shy of the record for a female, then held by Carole King, and was the second most successful number one debut album behind Australian rock group Men At Work.
The album spent 46 weeks in the top 10 and eventually earned the rare Diamond certification from the RIAA for certified sales in excess of 13 million copies. Good things come to those who wait.
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