The quality of an artist's music can never really be reflected by album sales. In a world where Britney Spears owns the charts, one feels somewhat sceptical when it comes to determining greatness based on platinum certification. That being said, one must admit that selling millions of albums does tend to make a mark on the industry, and hey, sometimes the masses do get it right.
(Note: Based on US sales)
05. Billy Joel: Greatest Hits Volume I & II (21x Platinum)
Few will deny the great influence this piano-playing rocker has had on the music world. Since his breaktrough hit Piano Man in 1974, he has had 33 songs in the Billboard Top 40. This double album was released on July 1, 1985, and went on to sell more than 10 million copies, earning the RIAA's coveted Diamond Award. Although he later released Greatest Hits Volume III, this 2 CD set remains the absolute highlight of his career, and in 1999 Billy Joel was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Although this Greatest Hits set only reached no. 6 in the charts, its has gone platinum (1 million copies sold) 21 times, taking its place as the no. 5 best-selling album of all time.
04. Led Zeppelin: Untitled (IV/ZOSO) (22x Platinum)
Arguably the most important band of the 1970s, Led Zeppelin is hardly a surprising appearance in the Top 5. Led Zeppelin's fourth album, commonly referred to as Led Zeppelin IV (aka ZOSO), was released in November of 1971. It would go on to sell more than 22 million copies, and remained in Billboard's album chart for five years. Despite its extensive stay in the charts, bizarrely it never reached number 1, peaking in second place. It spawned several hits, the most notable being the incomparable Stairway To Heaven, which became one of the most requested songs in the history of FM radio. Led Zeppelin was accepted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1995, and to this day, Led Zeppelin IV remains one of the most respected Rock records ever made.
03. Pink Floyd: The Wall (23x Platinum)
Pink Floyd's last studio effort of the 1970s turned out to be their most successful. Although many consider their 1973 album The Dark Side Of The Moon (15x platinum, #19 best selling album of all time) to be their best work, The Wall represents their most successful commercial romp.
The Wall was released on December 15, 1979, and spent 15 weeks at number 1. The album became somewhat of a cultural phenomenon, even spawning a rather strange full length feature film. Although the band suffered a rather messy formal breakup in the mid-eighties, Pink Floyd (Missing Roger Waters) released additional studio material, and were officially inducted in the Rock Hall Of Fame in 1996.
02. Michael Jackson: Thriller (26x Platinum)
Although Michael Jackson has become an endless source of jokes and puns of late, his influence on the music world is hard to deny. Thriller represents the absolute zenith of his extensive career, and has become the standard to which all pop records are compared. It spent a mammoth 37 weeks at no.1, and has sold more than 26 million copies. Michael Jackson was inducted into the Rock Hall Of Fame in 2001, and although he has continually procuced music, Thriller remains his greatest triumph, and is unlikely to be toppled any time soon.
01. The Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 (28x Platinum)
While it may surprise many, The Eagles can proudly claim to have the best-selling album of all time. Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 was released in March of 1976, and contained the best songs from their first four albums. It was the first album to be certified platinum by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association Of America), which first started using this system in 1976. To date, it has gone platinum 28x times, meaning it has sold more than 28 million copies. The Eagles were inducted into the hall of fame in 1998, and their list of accomplishments is quite extensive. The Eagles officially split in 1980, but reunited in 1994 to release Hell Freezes Over. Out-selling its nearest competitor by 2 million records, this greatest hits collection seems firmly fixed in its place at number 1.