If you’re a fan of music, as I am, then you’ve probably already heard about the best-selling artists of all time. But in case you haven’t, and especially if you’re interested in breaking into the lucrative industry of creating music for people to enjoy, let’s take a look at who has sold the most records over the years.
1. Eagles: Their Greatest Hits, 1971-1975
Eagles: Their Greatest Hits, 1971-1975 is the best-selling album of all time and the best-selling album in each country it has been released. It contains four tracks that were #1 singles: “Take It Easy,” “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Doolin-Dalton,” and “Desperado.” The remaining songs are also popular singles, including “Tequila Sunrise” and “Already Gone.” Released in 1976, this album was a big seller throughout the 1970s.
2. Michael Jackson: Thriller
Released in 1982, “Thriller” is perhaps the most famous and successful album of all time. This was a time when record companies were still struggling to figure out how best to promote music, but with this album and its iconic cover art by John Van Hamersveld (a vampire-like figure), they figured out that an album could be marketed like a movie or television show. It worked: the first single off of “Thriller” was “Billie Jean,” which became one of Michael Jackson’s most popular songs ever recorded with over 25 million copies sold worldwide. The entire album was wildly successful—it went on to win 8 Grammy Awards and sell over 100 million copies worldwide—and it remained the best-selling album of all time until it was surpassed by The Eagles’ “Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975” in 2007.
3. AC/DC: Back in Black
AC/DC: Back in Black, released in 1980, was the 10th best-selling album of all time with 11 million copies sold. It was also the first album to sell one million copies in Australia and the United Kingdom, as well as the first album to sell one million copies in America.
4. The Beatles: Abbey Road
Abbey Road is the last album released by The Beatles, and it’s also the last album they recorded. It contains a mix of songs that were written before the band broke up in 1970 and others that were written after. The final song on Abbey Road, “The End,” ends with John Lennon saying “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
5. Led Zeppelin IV
Led Zeppelin IV was released in 1971 and is officially the band’s fourth studio album. The title track from this album, “Stairway to Heaven,” has been covered by many artists over the years; it has been named one of the greatest rock songs ever recorded by VH1 and also voted number three on their list of “100 Greatest Guitar Songs Of All Time.” The song spent 88 weeks on their Top 100 Singles chart in America alone!
The album itself spent 741 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart—which is still an all-time record for the longest run on that particular ranking system. It also became their first number one album on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean when it was released in 1971 (it hit number ten in England).
6. Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon
Dark Side of the Moon is Pink Floyd’s eighth studio album and their first with Roger Waters as a full-time member. The album was released in 1973 and has since sold over 45 million copies worldwide. In addition to being one of the best-selling albums of all time, it also holds the title of being the first album to sell over 10 million copies in the US. To date, Dark Side of the Moon has been certified platinum 17 times around the world (and still sells about 200,000 copies per year).
In addition to its commercial success, Dark Side of the Moon is also notable for its influence on music culture: Rolling Stone named it number 26 on their list of “The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time” and Q Magazine placed it at number 81 on their list “100 Greatest British Albums”.
7. Whitney Houston Soundtrack/Whitney Houston The Bodyguard
“The Bodyguard” is the seventh studio album by American singer-actress Whitney Houston, released worldwide on November 6, 1992. This soundtrack was the first work to be produced for a film where she played a leading role. The album contains songs recorded by Houston in 1991 and 1992 during the filming of “The Bodyguard”, with its title track being one of her most successful singles of all time. When it reached number one on both the Billboard 200 and Top R&B charts in 1993 (for 14 weeks), it made history as the longest-running number-one album by a female solo artist on any chart ever at that time. It also became one of only three albums in history that have debuted at number 1 twice in a single year (1992).
8. Fleetwood Mac Rumours
Rumours is the eleventh studio album by British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac. It was released on 4 February 1977 by Warner Bros. Records. The record reached the top of both the United States Billboard Top LPs & Tapes chart and the United Kingdom Chart. Rumors have spent 381 weeks in the US top 10, which is more than any other album, and sold 40 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling ever.
The album has been certified platinum or multi-platinum in several countries, including Australia (8x), Canada (12x), New Zealand (4x), Switzerland (7x), and the UK (14x). It won’t be hard to find something you like among these songs – whether you’re looking for something laid back or upbeat!
9. Guns n’ Roses Appetite for Destruction
Guns n’ Roses Appetite for Destruction: Released in 1987, this album sold 10 million copies and peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200. It was the first album to sell more than 10 million copies. The band’s second album, Use Your Illusion I, sold 7.9 million copies, and Use Your Illusion II, which came out in 1991, sold 5 million copies. Guns N’ Roses was formed by Axl Rose (lead vocals), Slash (lead guitar), Izzy Stradlin (rhythm guitar), Duff McKagan (bass), and Steven Adler (drums). The group had plenty of chart success with their debut studio album “Appetite For Destruction”, which went on to sell over 30 million units worldwide; making it one of three albums ever to achieve diamond status after selling over 10 million units domestically only – behind Thriller by Michael Jackson & One Direction’s Four including bonus tracks by One Direction released November 25th, 2012.”
10. Meat Loaf Bat Out of Hell
Meat Loaf’s 1977 album Bat Out of Hell was a monster hit. It was the first album to be produced by Todd Rundgren and the first one released on Virgin Records. It has sold more than 43 million copies worldwide and is considered one of the best-selling albums of all time.
11. Celine Dion Falling into You Let’s Talk About Love (tie) 1997, 1999 12 million copies each.
Celine Dion, known for her popular songs like “My Heart Will Go On” and “That’s the Way It Is,” has also released some of the best-selling albums of all time. Her first two albums, Falling Into You and Let’s Talk About Love sold 12 million copies each.
12. Pearl Jam vs. (tie) 1993, 1996 11 million copies each.
Pearl Jam is a rock band from Seattle, Washington. The band was formed in 1990 by Eddie Vedder who chose members for the group as he saw fit. The band’s debut album Ten was released in 1991 and was followed by Vs., Vitalogy, and No Code, which was all released in 1993, 1996, and 1998 respectively. Pearl Jam’s fifth studio album Yield (1998) featured more minimalist production than their previous efforts with tracks including “Given to Fly”, “Wishlist” and “Nothingman”. Notable singles include “Jeremy” (1991), “Alive” (1991), “Black” (1993), and “Yellow Ledbetter” (1994).
The band achieved commercial success with their first album Ten in 1991 which went on to sell 23 million copies worldwide until today making them one of the best-selling albums ever made!
13. Mariah Carey Music Box Merry Christmas (tie) 1993, 1994 11 million copies each.
This holiday album is a perfect addition to your Christmas playlists. It’s not only one of the best-selling albums of all time, but it’s also Mariah Carey’s most successful album ever.
This Christmas collection includes songs like “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” which was released in 1994 and became an instant hit, spending five weeks at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and becoming one of the most popular holiday songs ever recorded and performed by multiple artists throughout the year after its release.
The album Merry Christmas II You (2010) was also an enormous success and sold over 12 million copies worldwide!
14. Backstreet Boys Millennium 1999 10.5 million copies.
Backstreet Boys Millennium 1999 10.5 million copies
The Backstreet Boys are a pop boy band from Orlando, Florida. Their first album was released in 1997 and quickly became the best-selling album of that year. It went on to sell over 10 million copies worldwide, making it one of the most successful albums ever released by an American artist!
15. Shania Twain Come on Over 1997 10.2 million copies.
Shania Twain, who was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, has sold over 100 million albums worldwide. She’s also the best-selling country artist of all time and the only female to have two singles from the same album (Come on Over) on Billboard’s Hot 100 at the same time. That album alone has sold over 40 million copies worldwide and is one of three albums released by Twain that has been certified diamond in Canada for more than 1 million units shipped.
These critically acclaimed albums have sold over 10M copies each
- Thriller – Michael Jackson (over 30M copies)
- Back In Black – AC/DC (over 30M copies)
- Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd (over 30M copies)
- 21st Century Breakdown – Green Day (over 12M copies)
- The Wall – Pink Floyd (over 23M copies)
We hope you enjoyed our list of the 15 best-selling albums of all time. If we missed any important ones, please let us know in the comments and we’ll be sure to add them!
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