In July, we shared the news that Paul McCartney was declared the most successful album artist of all time in the U.K. Macca’s landmark achievement was announced exactly 60 years to the day after Britain’s Official Charts Company published its first LP popularity chart. The numbers were based on his releases as a member of The Beatles (15 chart-toppers), plus two with Wings, four as a solo artist and one with his late first wife, Linda McCartney.
So the logical follow-up question is: What albums are the all-time best-sellers in the U.K.? The answers will surprise and, no, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, despite being the world’s far-and-away top-seller, is not #1.
The list of artists (and soundtracks) that are conspicuous in their absence is as fascinating as those that made it. Those MIA include such heavyweights as Led Zeppelin, Eagles, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, AC/DC (whose Back in Black is the world’s #2 best-seller), Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Bruce Springsteen, The Bodyguard soundtrack (#4 worldwide), Metallica, Nirvana, Santana and Guns N’ Roses, each of whom has LPs with worldwide sales reported to be north of 30 million copies.
While fully recognizing that there’s a big sales difference from the top of the list to the bottom ten of the Top 60, we’ll tip our cap to the English singer Robbie Williams (who?). He has the most albums (four) on the list – albeit in the bottom 30 – two as a solo artist and two as a member of the pop group Take That (who?). Take That has a third LP (sans Williams) in the Top 60, the only act to reach that mark.
Nine acts have two apiece: (alphabetically) Abba, Adele, The Beatles, Coldplay, Dido, Fleetwood Mac, Michael Jackson, Queen and Paul Simon (one of which is with longtime partner Art Garfunkel).
Drumroll, please, here are some of the all-time top-selling classic rock albums in the U.K…
51) Paul Simon – Graceland
50) Norah Jones – Come Away With Me
41) Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill
39) Phil Collins – But Seriously
36) U2 – The Joshua Tree
21) Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water
20) The Beatles – 1
19) Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell
16) Bob Marley & the Wailers – Legend
13) Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
11) Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
10) Queen – Greatest Hits II
8) Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms
7) Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
6) Michael Jackson – Thriller
5) Oasis – What’s the Story Morning Glory
4) Adele – 21
3) The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
2) Abba – Gold – Greatest Hits
1) Queen – Greatest Hits
According to the Official Albums Chart Company, the top-selling hits album from Queen has sold over six million copies. Brian May offers his thanks…
Abba’s hits collection is at 5.2 million. Sgt. Pepper, at 5.1 million, is thus the highest ranked studio album.
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