Which artist has sold the most albums of all time?
Getting a bunch of streams on a song is a pretty easy thing to achieve. Selling millions of physical copies of an album? Now that takes work. But which American artists have sold the most? We’ve crunched the numbers for you!
64.5 million units sold
She isn’t called the Queen of Pop for nothing! Madonna Ciccone has been a mainstay in popular music – and had a huge influence on popular culture – since the early 1980s. She has continued to reinvent herself and her image throughout her career, becoming the most successful solo act on the Hot 100 song chart. She’s also the highest-grossing solo touring artist of all time, taking in an amazing $1.4 billion from concert tickets.
9 Bruce Springsteen
65.5 million units sold
The Boss is loved in America because he has created albums that find pleasure in daily American life. Born to Run was released in 1975, giving Springsteen his big break in music, but it would be Born in the U.S.A that would make him a household name, nine years later. Born in the U.S.A. is one of the best-selling albums of all time, with seven singles being released from it and 15 million copies selling in America alone.
66.5 million units sold
Long-haired rockers Aerosmith began their musical journey in 1972 when they were signed to Columbia Records. By 1979, they had already recorded and released five albums; they solidified their status as superstars in the hard rock realm. They are currently the best-selling American hard rock band of all time and Aerosmith were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
7 Barbra Streisand
68.5 million units
Barbra Streisand is a household name across music, acting and filmmaking. She was singing in clubs and had graced Broadway before releasing her debut album, The Barbra Streisand Album in 1963. The album broke into the top 10 of the Billboard chart and won three Grammys. This was, of course, just the beginning. Barbra has 53 gold albums, 31 platinum albums and 14 multi-platinum albums to her name in the United States!
6 George Strait
69 million units
The King of Country, George Strait, has enjoyed some serious success since his first single, Unwound was released in 1981. During the decade, seven of his albums reached number one in the country charts. Strait went on to break Conway Twitty’s record for most number one hits on Billboard’s Hot Country songs; Twitty’s record was 40 whereas Strait has 44. He’s won a heap of awards over the years, most recently the 2017 Cliffe Stone Icon Award at the Academy of Country Music.
5 Michael Jackson
81 million units sold
Michael Jackson is arguably one of the greatest performers of all time, but he hasn’t quite topped the list for selling the most albums. He found fame performing with his older siblings as part of the Jackson 5 before going it alone. A bold move that paid off incredibly as Michael Jackson’s career grew from strength to strength. His fifth album Thriller, is the best-selling album of all time, producing seven singles.
4 Billy Joel
82.5 million units sold
The Piano Man’s career was not an immediate success – it wasn’t until 1977’s The Stranger that Joel became a commercial success. It gave Joel four Top 25 hits; Just the Way You Are, Movin’ Out, Only the Good Die Young and She’s Always a Woman. His most recent album was 1993’s River of Dreams but Joel still tours today! Joel was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in in 1999.
101 million units sold
With five American Music Awards, six Grammy Awards and six number one albums, the Eagles were one of the most successful acts in the 1970s. They enjoyed considerable success from the beginning but they really broke ground with their 1976 album Hotel California. The title track topped the charts in 1977 and became the groups signature song. The group went on hiatus in 1980 before reforming 14 years later.
2 Elvis Presley
146.5 million units sold
The King changed music and culture in an unprecedented way in the 1950s. Elvis Presley is seen as the catalyst for the cultural phenomenon of rock and roll, helping to merge the styles of white country and black rhythm and blues music. Elvis scored a staggering 11 number one singles between 1956 and 1958; from Heartbreak Hotel to Hard Headed Woman. He received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at just 36 years old and aside from music, was well known as an actor too.
1 Garth Brooks
148 million units sold
Country superstar Garth Brooks is the best-selling solo albums artist in America and he’s the only artist in music history to have released seven album that have achieved diamond status in the States. His debut, Garth Brooks, peaked at number two in the Top Country Albums chart but has gone on to sell more than 10 million copies to date. Brooks was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012.
Here are the American artists that have sold the most albums:
- Garth Brooks – 148 million units
- Elvis Presley – 146.5 million units
- Eagles – 101 million units
- Billy Joel – 82.5 million units
- Michael Jackson – 81 million units
- George Strait – 69 million units
- Barbra Streisand – 68.5 million units
- Aerosmith – 66.5 million units
- Bruce Springsteen – 65 million units
- Madonna – 64.5 million units
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