There was much excitement this week when The Eagles’ greatest hits compilation overtook Michael Jackson’s Thriller as the best-selling album of all time.
There was a time when the Eagles were the first band to achieve a 38x Platinum Album in the United States. Thriller has sold 47 million certified copies worldwide, six million more than Their Greatest Hits. Our list contains the top 25 albums worldwide, but it’s important to note that album sales can be counted in multiple ways.
A double album like Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits Volume I & Volume II or Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti counts as two copies, essentially doubling the number of sales. We have not taken that into account.
Besides, we excluded claims of sales from record labels and relied on data directly from the Recording Industry Association of America in the U.S. and its counterparts around the world. Therefore, these figures include online sales since the RIAA began incorporating those numbers in 2016. RIAA reporting period ended on Aug. 21, 2018, which is the latest we could figure.
There is no doubt that the U.S. is the largest market for album sales, but several albums topped the charts without much help from American audiences, most notably ABBA, which sold nearly as many copies of “Gold: Greatest Hits in the U.K.” as they did in the U.S. Come on Over was the only country album to make the list. Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Eagles, and Michael Jackson all had more than one best-seller on the list. There are six different nations represented: the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Jamaica, and Sweden.
Here are the 25 best-selling albums of all time:
1. Michael Jackson: Thriller
Total certified sales: 47 million (66 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 33 million
Thriller was Jackson’s first number-one album on the U.S. Billboard Top LPs & Tapes chart. It held the top spot for a record 37 weeks, from February 26, 1983 to April 14, 1984, although it was not at the top every week. Seven singles were released: “The Girl Is Mine,” “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” “Human Nature,” “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” and “Thriller.”
All were in the Top 10 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, which at the time was a record for the most Top 10 singles from a single album. “Beat It” and “Billie Jean” were both number ones. Jackson’s performance of “Billie Jean” on the Motown 25 TV special, where he danced his famous moonwalk for the first time, boosted sales of the album, which today sells a million copies a week worldwide. The music video for “Thriller” was released in December 1983 and caused quite a stir. It was played frequently on MTV, which also helped the album sell more copies.
By the end of 1983, 32 million copies of “Thriller” had been sold worldwide. This made it the best-selling album of all time. It was the most popular album in the world in 1983 and the first album to be the most popular in the US for two years, 1983 and 1984. It set standards for the music industry with its songs, music videos and marketing strategies that influenced artists, record companies, producers, marketers and choreographers.
2. Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975
Total certified sales: 41 million (51 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 38 million
The Eagles’ first compilation album, Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975), was released by Asylum Records on February 17, 1976. It contains a few songs from each of the band’s first four albums, released between 1972 and 1975. The album reached number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, where it stayed for five weeks.
It was the first album to be certified platinum by the RIAA. This award was first given in 1976 to albums that sold one million copies in the United States. It was number four on the Billboard chart for 1976 and lasted 239 weeks on the Billboard 200 (as of August 2018).
The RIAA has certified the album 38 times platinum, which means it has sold 38 million copies in the United States alone. This would make Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) the best-selling album in the United States in the 20th century (it was overtaken by Michael Jackson’s Thriller after Jackson’s death in 2009, but reclaimed the title in August 2018). The Library of Congress decided in 2017 to add the album to the National Recording Registry because it was “culturally, historically, or artistically significant.”
3. Eagles: Hotel California
Total certified sales: 32 million (42 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 26 million
“Hotel California” is the title track of the Eagles’ album of the same name. It was released as a single in February 1977. Don Felder (music), Don Henley and Glenn Frey wrote all parts of the song (lyrics). Joe Walsh had the idea for the part at the end of the song where two guitars play an arpeggio that goes down, but he was not credited for writing that part.
Since its release, many artists have put their own stamp on “Hotel California.” Julia Phillips suggested making the song into a movie, but the Eagles did not like the idea, and the film was never made. “Hotel California” was a big hit in the business world. It was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and in the top ten of several international charts.
“Hotel California” was played live by the Eagles 1,038 times, which is the third most repeated of any of their songs after “Desperado” and “Take it Easy.”
4. Shania Twain: Come on Over
Label: Mercury Nashville
Total certified sales: 29 million (33 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 20 million
The third studio album by Canadian country singer Shania Twain is called Come On Over. It was released on November 4, 1997 and became the best-selling country album and the best-selling album by a Canadian woman. According to Guinness World Records, it is the best-selling studio album by a female solo artist and the best-selling album by a female solo artist in the United States. It is the ninth best-selling album of all time in the United States and around the world. It is also the sixteenth best-selling album in the United Kingdom.
As of 2020, more than 40 million copies of Come On Over have been sold worldwide, with more than 20 million copies shipped in the United States. According to Nielsen SoundScan, more than 15.7 million copies were sold, and according to BMG Music Clubs, another 1.99 million copies were sold. The album went straight to No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, where it stayed for 50 weeks. This makes it the album with the most weeks at #1 on the US Top Country Albums chart, according to Guinness World Records.
It stayed in the top ten for 151 weeks. Ten of the sixteen songs made the Top 20 on the Hot Country Songs chart, three of them at No. 1. Seven of the songs were also in the Top 50 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Twain appeared on TV and gave interviews to promote the album. The successful Come On Over Tour, which toured North America, Oceania and Europe, was another way to promote the album.
5. Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin IV
Total certified sales: 29 million (37 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 23 million
The fourth studio album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, which didn’t bear a name but is often referred to as “Led Zeppelin IV”, was released on November 8, 1971 by Atlantic Records. It was compiled by guitarist Jimmy Page and recorded mainly at the country house Headley Grange from December 1970 to February 1971. The song “Stairway to Heaven”, included on the album, has been called the band’s signature song.
The relaxed atmosphere at Headley Grange gave the band new ideas and gave them the opportunity to try different ways of composing songs and write songs in different styles. After critics disliked the band’s last album, Led Zeppelin III, they decided that their fourth album wouldn’t have a name. Instead, it would be represented by four symbols chosen by each band member, with no name or other information on the cover. On “The Battle of Evermore,” Sandy Denny sang, and on “Rock and Roll,” Ian Stewart played piano.
The album sold well and received good reviews. With over 37 million copies sold worldwide, it’s Led Zeppelin’s best-selling album. It’s one of the best-selling albums in the U.S., and critics often put it at the top of lists of the best albums of all time.
6. Whitney Houston (Various Artists): The Bodyguard Soundtrack
Total certified sales: 28 million (42 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 18 million
The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album is an album of music from the film of the same name. It was released by Arista Records on November 17, 1992. The first side of the original version LP and the cassette version of the album features songs by American singer Whitney Houston, who starred in the film. The second side features songs by other artists. Houston and Clive Davis were both involved in the production of the album.
The album was a huge success all over the world. It was number one in eighteen countries and in the top ten in dozens more. In the United States, Houston became the artist with the most weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 chart with this album. She held this record for 19 years until it was surpassed by Adele’s album 21 (2011).
According to the Recording Industry Association of America, The Bodyguard is a diamond album, making it Houston’s third album to sell so many copies. It was the first album that Nielsen SoundScan could prove sold more than one million copies in a single week. At one point, the album sold over a million copies every week for a few weeks.
The Bodyguard is the best-selling soundtrack album of all time, the best-selling album by a woman, and the best-selling album of the decade. It has sold more than 45 million copies worldwide. The film’s music was named Album of the Year.
7. Fleetwood Mac: Rumours
Label: Warner Bros.
Total certified sales: 27 million (40 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 20 million
Rumours is the eleventh studio album by British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac. Warner Bros. Records released it on February 4, 1977. It was mostly recorded in California in 1976, and the band was responsible for the production along with Ken Caillat and Richard Dashut. The band wanted to build on the success of their 1975 album, which was titled “Self-Titled.” The group recorded the album after some of its members broke up with their partners and took a lot of drugs, which affected the album’s lyrics.
Rumours were an immediate commercial success. In the first month after its release, more than 10 million copies of the album were sold worldwide. It received much praise from critics, who praised the production and harmonies, which often came from the interaction of three singers.
It also influenced the work of musicians in different genres. At the 1977 Grammy Awards, it was named Album of the Year. With more than 40 million copies sold around the world, it is one of the most popular albums of all time. In the UK, Canada and Australia it was awarded diamond status, and in the US it received 20 platinum awards.
8. AC/DC: Back in Black
Total certified sales: 26 million (50 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 22 million
AC/seventh DC’s studio album, Back in Black, is called “Back in Black.” It came out on July 25, 1980, from Atlantic Records and Albert Productions. After Bon Scott died, this is the band’s first album with Brian Johnson as the lead singer.
After their album Highway to Hell became a big hit in 1979, AC/DC planned to make another one. However, in February 1980, Scott died of alcohol poisoning after a drinking binge. Instead of breaking up, they decided to keep going and hired Johnson, who had been the lead singer for Geordie.
Back in Black was their sixth international studio album, and it was a huge hit. It is the second best-selling album in music history, with about 50 million copies sold around the world. The band went on a year-long world tour to promote the album. This made them one of the most popular bands of the early 1980s.
Since its first release, the album has been reissued and remastered several times, most recently for digital distribution. The Recording Industry Association of America gave it a 25 Platinum rating on December 9, 2019. (RIAA).
9. Adele: 21
Label: XL, Columbia
Total sales: 25 million (31 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 14 million
Adele, an English singer-songwriter, has released a new album called 21. It was released on January 24, 2011 in Europe through XL Recordings and on February 22, 2011 through Columbia Records in North America. The album was created after the singer broke up with her then-boyfriend. The album’s themes include heartbreak, healing, self-reflection and forgiveness.
Adele’s independent record label XL had little hope for how well 21 would sell. It reached the top of the charts in more than 30 countries and was the best-selling album in the world in both 2011 and 2012. This helped boost declining music sales worldwide. In the United Kingdom, it is the best-selling album of the 21st century, the fourth best-selling album of all time and the best-selling album by a solo artist of all time. It stayed at the top of the UK album chart for 23 weeks, which is the longest stay by a female solo artist.
In the United States, it is the best-selling Billboard 200 album of all time. It was number one for 24 weeks, longer than any album since 1985 and longer than any album by a female solo artist in the history of the Billboard 200. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) gave it the Diamond Award, which means that it has sold more than 10 million copies in the United States.
In addition, three of the five singles released to promote the album reached number one worldwide: “Rolling in the Deep,” “Someone Like You” and “Set Fire to the Rain.” The fifth single, “Rumour Has It,” reached the Top 20 in many countries in Europe and North America. 21 is the best-selling album of the 21st century and one of the best-selling albums of all time. It has sold more than 31 million copies worldwide.
10. Alanis Morissette: Jagged Little Pill
Total certified sales: 24 million (33 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 16 million
Alanis Morissette, a Canadian singer, released her third studio album Jagged Little Pill on June 13, 1995. It was released by Maverick. It was her first album to be released around the world. It was a big change from her first two albums, Alanis (1991) and Now Is the Time (1993), which were dance-pop (1992).
The song “Jagged Little Pill” reached the top of the charts in thirteen countries around the world. With more than 33 million copies sold worldwide, it is one of the best-selling albums of all time. Morissette was also the first Canadian to sell a double diamond.
Jagged Little Pill was nominated for nine Grammy Awards and won five, including Album of the Year, making the then 21-year-old Morissette the youngest artist up to that time to win that top honour. Rolling Stone ranked Jagged Little Pill No. 69 on its list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” for 2020.
11. Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon
Total certified sales: 24 million (30 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 15 million
The eighth studio album by the English rock band Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon, was released on March 1, 1973, by Harvest Records. A few months before the recording began, the band played a version of the suite, which they had worked on mainly during live performances.
The Dark Side of the Moon is one of the most acclaimed albums of all time. It is often included by experts on lists of the best albums of all time. The record made Pink Floyd famous all over the world and brought money and fame to all four band members.
It was the biggest hit of the album era and helped boost record sales throughout the 1970s music industry. In the UK it went 14-times platinum, and in the US it topped the Billboard Top LPs & Tapes chart for 962 weeks. It is Pink Floyd’s best-selling album and one of the best-selling albums in the world. It is said to have sold over 45 million copies.
The Library of Congress decided in 2012 to add it to the U.S. National Recording Registry because it was “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
12. The Beatles: 1
Label: Apple/Parlophone, Capitol
Total certified sales: 26 million (31 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 12 million
Originally released on 13 November 2000, 1 is a compilation album by the English rock band the Beatles. From 1962 to 1970, this album contains virtually every number-one single the band achieved in the United Kingdom or the United States. It was the band’s first compilation available on only one CD, released on the 30th anniversary of their breakup. 1 topped the charts around the world. Currently, it has sold more than 31 million copies.
In the US and worldwide, 1 is the fourth best-selling album of the 2000s decade, the best-selling album of the decade since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking US album sales in January 1991.
In September 2011, 1 was remastered and reissued. This album was remixed and reissued in several different deluxe editions in November 2015, including a three-disc set entitled 1+ along with video discs of Beatles promotional films.
Over 3.1 million copies of 1 were sold in the UK as of June 2015, making it the sixth best-selling album of the 21st century.
13. ABBA: Gold: Greatest Hits
Total certified sales: 22 million (30 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 6 million
ABBA’s greatest hits compilation sold more copies in the UK than Queen’s Greatest Hits, but the Swedish pop group was always more popular in Europe than the U.S., even with Mamma Mia! ‘s surprise success.
Among the 18 tracks on the album are “Dancing Queen,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” and “Take a Chance on Me,” as well as the closing track, “Waterloo.” This is pop perfection, with melody after melody that will have you humming for days.
14. Bob Marley & The Wailers: Legend
Total certified sales: 22 million
U.S. sales: 15 million
In his songs, Bob Marley was a populist hero, and songs like “Get Up, Stand Up” spoke in generalities about the necessity of asserting oneself in the face of tyranny and oppression.
Bob Marley was also about spreading love, both literally thanks to his ten children and through songs such as “Stir It Up,” one of his most affecting straight-up love songs that plays out almost in slow motion, as if he has been suspended in a blissful trance by love. We’re pretty sure every college freshman bought Legend after it came out in 1984 since it demonstrates both sides of reggae’s most famous artist.
15. Guns N’ Roses: Appetite for Destruction
Total certified sales: 21 million (30 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 18 million
Guns N’ Roses’ first studio album, Appetite for Destruction, is their first hard rock album. Geffen Records released it on July 21, 1987.
When the album came out in 1987, not many people paid attention to it. Appetite for Destruction didn’t become a commercial hit until the following year, after the band toured and their singles “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Paradise City” and “Sweet Child o’ Mine” received frequent radio play. The album reached number one on the US Billboard 200 and became the seventh best-selling album of all time in the US. It’s also one of the best-selling albums of all time, selling more than 30 million copies worldwide.
Even though critics weren’t sure what to make of the album at first, Appetite for Destruction has since been praised and is now considered one of the best albums of all time. It was re-released in 2018 as a remastered box set and received the same kind of praise.
16. Bee Gees (Various Artists): Saturday Night Fever soundtrack
Total certified sales: 21 million (40 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 16 million
The soundtrack album for the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever, which starred John Travolta, is called Saturday Night Fever. The music for the film was released on November 15, 1977. It is one of the best-selling albums of all time and still the second best-selling soundtrack of all time after The Bodyguard, with over 40 million copies sold around the world (some estimates even put it at over 50 million).
In the U.S., the album went 16 platinum, having sold at least 16 million copies. From January to July 1978, the album was at the top of the charts for 24 weeks, and by March 1980 it had stayed on the Billboard album chart for 120 weeks. In the United Kingdom, the album was continuously at No. 1 for 18 weeks. On both sides of the Atlantic, the album was the best example of the disco movement and a huge success around the world. In 2014, the album was added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress because of its importance to American culture.
17. Meat Loaf: Bat Out of Hell
Label: Cleveland International/Epic
Total certified sales: 21 million (43 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 14 million
Bat Out of Hell is the first album by Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman. It was released in 1977. It is one of the best selling albums of all time. The album was based on the musical Neverland, which Steinman wrote in 1974. It was a rock version of Peter Pan set in the future.
It was recorded in 1975 and 1976 at various studios, including Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, New York. It was produced by Todd Rundgren and released by Cleveland International/Epic Records in October 1977. Bat Out of Hell led to two more albums by Meat Loaf: Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell (1993) and Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose (1996). (2006).
Over 43 million copies of Bat Out of Hell have been sold worldwide. It has been certified 14 platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It is the most purchased album in Australia. [As of June 2019, it has spent 522 weeks on the UK album chart, making it the second longest-charting studio album. On Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, it was #343.
18. Metallica: Metallica
Total sales: 21 million (30 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 16 million
Metallica is the fifth studio album by American heavy metal band Metallica. It was released on August 12, 1991 by Elektra Records and is often referred to as “The Black Album” due to its presentation. It was recorded at One on One Studios in Los Angeles over the course of eight months. During this time, there were many disagreements between Metallica and their new producer Bob Rock. The band’s music changed from thrash metal, the style of the first four albums, to a slower, heavier and more refined sound.
Metallica undertook a series of tours to promote Metallica. They also released five singles to promote the album. “Enter Sandman,” “The Unforgiven,” “Nothing Else Matters,” “Wherever I May Roam” and “Sad but True” are all well-known songs by the band. Shortly after the album’s release, the song “Do not Tread on Me” was also played on rock radio, but never released as a single.
19. Santana: Supernatural
Total certified sales: 20 million (30 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 15 million
Latin rock band Santana’s 18th studio album, Supernatural, was released on June 15, 1999, by Arista Records. When Santana had no record label in the mid-1990s, Carlos Santana, one of the band’s founders and guitarists, began talking to Clive Davis, who was running Arista at the time.
Davis signed the band to Columbia Records in 1969, while he was still head of the company. Santana and Davis worked with A&R man Pete Ganbarg because Santana wanted to focus on pop and radio-friendly music. Santana worked with Eric Clapton, Rob Thomas, Eagle-Eye Cherry, Lauryn Hill, Dave Matthews, Maná, KC Porter and CeeLo Green, among other modern guest artists.
Supernatural was a huge financial success worldwide and made people want to hear Santana’s music again. The album was number one in 11 countries, including the U.S., where it was number one for 12 consecutive weeks. In the U.S., the album was certified 15-times platinum.
The first of the album’s six singles, “Smooth,” which featured Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty and was written by Thomas and Itaal Shur, was a worldwide hit and stayed at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 12 weeks. “Maria Maria,” in which the group Product G&B participated, was number one in the U.S. for 10 weeks. About 30 million copies of Supernatural were sold worldwide.
20. Bruce Springsteen: Born in the U.S.A.
Bruce Springsteen’s seventh studio album is Born in the U.S.A. It was released on June 4, 1984 by Columbia Records. Springsteen wrote and recorded the album with his E Street Band and producers Chuck Plotkin and Jon Landau over several years at The Power Station and The Hit Factory in New York City. It was recorded concurrently with Nebraska, his previous album. Springsteen’s iconic photograph from behind was captured by Annie Leibovitz for the cover.
Upon release, Born in the U.S.A. was met with positive reviews, which noted its more radio-friendly sound and massive commercial success. Springsteen promoted the album with a world tour and produced seven top-10 hits.
By 2012, Born in the U.S.A. became his most commercially successful album and one of his best-selling records. Critics have also cited it as one of the greatest albums of all time. The album was nominated for Album of the Year at the 1985 Grammy Awards.
21. Madonna: The Immaculate Collection
Total certified sales: 19 million (31 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 10 million
American singer Madonna’s first greatest hits album, The Immaculate Collection, was released on November 9, 1990 by Sire Records. It contains two new songs and new remixes of fifteen of her hit singles from 1983 to 1990. The name of the album is a reference to the Immaculate Conception, that is, the idea that Mary was born without sin.
Along with the compilation and re-release of “Holiday”, an extended version called “The Holiday Collection” was released in Europe. It contained three hits that were not included on the main album. It is the first album to use QSound, a new way of music production.
The Immaculate Collection reached number two on the Billboard 200 in the United States, and was the most popular album in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Ireland and Finland, and also reached the top five in France, the Netherlands, Spain and Japan. It was Madonna’s second album to be certified as a Diamond Album by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for selling more than ten million copies in the United States.
22. Celine Dion: Let’s Talk About Love
Total certified sales: 19 million (31 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 10 million
Let’s Talk About Love is the fifth English-language studio album by Celine Dion. It was released on November 14, 1997 by Columbia Records and Epic Records. Let’s Talk About Love was Celine Dion’s follow-up to 1996’s commercially successful Falling into You, and it showed how much her music had evolved since then.
Many people around the world gave Let’s Talk About Love and its songs accolades. “My Heart Will Go On” won Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Song Written Specifically for a Movie or TV Show. The album was also nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album, and the song “Tell Him” was nominated for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.
Let’s Talk About Love sold more than 31 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time. The album was also number one on the album charts in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Australia and many other countries. It was one of the most popular albums in 1997 and 1998, and also one of the most popular albums of the decade.
23. Michael Jackson: Bad
Total certified sales: 19 million (35 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 10 million
Michael Jackson’s seventh studio album is titled Bad. Epic Records released the album on August 31, 1987, nearly five years after Jackson’s previous album, Thriller (1982). Bad was the third and final collaboration between Jackson and producer Quincy Jones, with Jackson co-producing and composing all but two songs. The edgy sound and look of Bad marked a departure from Jackson’s trademark groove-based style and high-pitched vocals.
Pop, rock, funk, R&B, dance, soul, and hard rock styles are all represented on the album. In addition, Jackson experimented with newer recording technology, including digital synthesizers and drum machines, which resulted in a sleeker and more aggressive sound. Among the album’s lyrical themes are media bias, paranoia, racial profiling, romance, self-improvement, and world peace. Siedah Garrett and Stevie Wonder appear on the album.
In its first week in the US, Bad sold over 2.25 million copies, becoming one of the most anticipated albums of its time. The album remained at the top for six weeks. Also one of the best-selling albums of 1987, it reached number one in 24 countries, including the UK, where 350,000 copies were sold in its first week.
24. Pink Floyd: The Wall
Total certified sales: 18 million (30 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 11 million
Pink Floyd’s eleventh studio album, The Wall, was released on 30 November 1979 by Harvest and Columbia Records. A rock opera that explores Pink, a jaded rock star whose eventual self-imposed isolation from society forms a figurative wall.
The album reached number three on the UK charts and topped the US charts for 15 weeks. Many critics initially found the album overblown and pretentious, but later praised it as one of the greatest albums of all time and one of the band’s finest efforts.
25. The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Total sales: 18 million (32 million claimed)
U.S. sales: 11 million
The eighth studio album by the English rock band The Beatles is called Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was released on May 26, 1967 and spent 27 weeks at number one on the Record Retailer charts in the United Kingdom and 15 weeks on the Billboard Top LPs charts in the United States. Critics liked the album because it broke new ground in songwriting, production and graphic design.
They also liked it because it bridged the gap between popular music and high art, showing how much young people and the counterculture were interested in it at the time. The album’s release was a turning point in 1960s pop culture and signaled the beginning of the Summer of Love. The reception of the album gave pop music full cultural legitimacy and made it appear as a true art form.
Musicologists consider Sgt. Pepper to be one of the first concept albums. It changed the role of sound composition, extended form, psychedelic imagery, record sleeves, and producers in pop music.
The album had an immediate impact on people of all ages and was associated with many aspects of youth culture at the time, such as fashion, drugs, mysticism, and a sense of hope and power. It is considered one of the first art rock albums, the beginning of progressive rock and the start of the album era.
It won four Grammy Awards in 1968, including Album of the Year. It was the first rock album LP, which received this award. In 2003 it was included in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress.
It was voted the best album of all time by critics and listeners in several polls, including Rolling Stone magazine, the book All Time Top 1000 Albums and the British poll “Music of the Millennium”. It is still one of the most popular albums of all time and was still the most popular studio album in the UK in 2018. By 2011, it had sold more than 32 million copies worldwide. In 2017, a remixed and longer version of the album was released.