Queen Tops U.K. All-Time Best-Selling Albums

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Queen Greatest Hits

Queen has been crowned #1 in the U.K.

In 2016, 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.

Related: Paul McCartney named U.K.’s top album artist

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.

Robbie Williams, apparently, is not surprised by the news

Robbie Williams, apparently, is not surprised by the news

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. 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…

50) Grease (Original Soundtrack)
43) Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill
42) Phil Collins – But Seriously
38) U2 – The Joshua Tree
23) Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water
22) The Beatles – 1
21) Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell
19) The Verve – Urban Hymns
17) Bob Marley & the Wailers – Legend
12) Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
11) Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
10) Queen – Greatest Hits II
9) Michael Jackson – Bad
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, as of July 2022, the top-selling hits album from Queen has sold over seven million copies. The total is a combination of physical sales, downloads and streams. Brian May and Roger Taylor offer their thanks…

Abba’s hits collection is nearing 5.6 million. Sgt. Pepper, at over 5.3 million, is thus the highest ranked studio album.

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Best Classic Bands Staff

10 Comments so far

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  1. Guy Smiley
    #1 Guy Smiley 4 September, 2016, 11:36

    Those hits collections are still “studio albums” by strict definition.

    Reply this comment
    • Greg Brodsky
      Greg Brodsky 4 September, 2016, 12:56

      The Official Charts Company doesn’t agree with you, Guy, in how studio albums are defined. Official Charts chief executive Martin Talbot said: “In celebration of 60 years of the UK’s Official Album Chart, it is fantastic that we can crown Queen as the kings of the Anniversary Top 60. With seven albums by British acts in the all-time Top 10, and Adele’s 21 now challenging The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper to be the biggest selling studio album of all time.”

      Reply this comment
    • LanceRED58
      LanceRED58 31 August, 2022, 01:26

      Greatest hits albums are just cherry picking ! When me & my friends sat crossed legged around a little record player in 1967 listening to Sgt Pepper for the first time , we felt like we’d gone to another world !

      Reply this comment
  2. Danny
    #2 Danny 10 May, 2017, 05:22

    I’m guessing the article was made by an American? There’s nothing surprising about Queen outselling Led Zeppelin, they did it pretty much everywhere, except the US and Canada.
    Also, nobody cares about the Eagles outside of US.

    Reply this comment
    • Greg Brodsky
      Greg Brodsky 10 May, 2017, 08:50

      Thanks for taking the time, Danny. The numbers for Queen’s various hits collections are certainly impressive. In the UK, it certainly appears that Led Zeppelin’s studio efforts were consistently better sellers. Your claim about the Eagles is simply not true. The crowds at their sold-out arena tours worldwide and the roughly 16 million people who own the Hotel California album say “hello.”

      Reply this comment
      SHE WHO DANCES 31 August, 2022, 01:20

      yes Queen is better/was better…and the eagles only had a few hits…half english/half american..cheers!

      Reply this comment
  3. Danny
    #3 Danny 10 May, 2017, 12:11

    I definitely exaggerated about the Eagles, but there are certain bands that are FAR more popular in North America than Europe.
    Led Zeppelin probably leads that list, considering they sold 68% of their albums in North America, mostly US. The Eagles are up there too (2/3 sold in the US alone). More examples are Journey, Van Halen, Rush, Foreigner and Bruce Springsteen.
    Again, I’m not saying they’re not popular in Europe, just MUCH more popular across the ocean.

    Reply this comment
  4. SAMO
    #4 SAMO 31 August, 2022, 02:11

    Sorry but Michael Jackson on a classic rock list? The list is junk.

    Reply this comment
  5. Baybluesman
    #5 Baybluesman 31 August, 2022, 12:38

    I kind of see where Danny is coming from, perhaps not a statical perspective, but from a cultural perspective.

    Slade sold over 50 Million albums, was frenetically-popular in the U.K. And Europe during their heyday, yet relatively unknown in the States, until Quiet Riot (blasphemously) covered their hits in the early 80s.

    I had the good fortune to attend one of their few U.S. Tours, in 1974, and, putting it mildly, they blew the roof off the auditorium – you could literally feel the floor and seats vibrating from the foot-stomping.

    One of the rockin’ best shows I have ever attended, and I have attended too many to count, in my life’s musical journey.

    Support Live Music.

    Reply this comment

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