10 Multi-Platinum Rock Albums

The most-certified rock records...

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10 Multi-Platinum Rock Albums
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Music recording sales certification is a system of certifying that a music recording has shipped or sold a certain number of copies. The threshold quantity varies by type (such as album, single, music video) and by nation or territory.

Almost all countries follow variations of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) certification categories, which are named after precious materials (gold, platinum and diamond). Nielsen SoundScan figures are not used in RIAA certification; the RIAA system predates Nielsen SoundScan and includes sales outlets Nielsen misses.

List of certifications:

  • 500,000 units: Gold album
  • 1,000,000 units: Platinum album
  • 2,000,000 or more units: Multi-Platinum album
  • 10,000,000 units: Diamond album

So here's a list of the best-selling albums in the United States based on RIAA certification and Nielsen SoundScan sales tracking.

NOTE: Certification is not always directly dependent on the amount of sales. For example, as a result of the RIAA's methodology of counting each disc in a multi-disc set as one unit toward certification, most double albums have been certified with a number double the number of copies sold.

10. Hootie & the Blowfish - Cracked Rear View (1994) [16x Platinum]

"Cracked Rear View" is Hootie & the Blowfish's most successful album. It was the highest-selling album of 1995, with 10.5 million shipments that year alone. The record reached number one on the Billboard 200 five times over the course of 1995. The album also reached number one in Canada and New Zealand.

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9. Eagles - Hotel California (1976) [16x Platinum]

"Hotel California" first entered the US Billboard 200 at number four, reaching number one in its fourth week in January 1977. The album stayed on the top of the chart for eight weeks (non-consecutively), and it was certified platinum by the RIAA in a week of release. In its first year of release it sold nearly 6 million copies only in the United States. In 2001, the album was certified 16x platinum, denoting shipment of 16 million in the United States, and has sold over 17 million copies in the US by 2013. Worldwide, the album has sold 32 million copies.

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8. Metallica - Metallica (1991) [16x Platinum]

Metallica's "Black Album" is the best-selling metal album worldwide, and also the best-selling album in the United States since Nielsen SoundScan tracking began. The album was certified 16x platinum by the RIAA in 2012, and has sold over sixteen million copies in the US, the first album in the SoundScan era to do so.

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7. Boston - Boston (1976) [17x Platinum]

The debut album by Boston was certified gold two months after its release, and sold another 500,000 copies within 30 days, going platinum for the first time in November 1976. By January 1977, the debut disc sold two million copies, making it one of the fastest selling debut albums in rock history. It has continued to sell very well, accumulating 9 million in sales by the 10th anniversary in 1986, reaching diamond in 1990, and 17x platinum by 2003.

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6. Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction (1987) [18x Platinum]

With about 30 million copies sold worldwide, GN'R's debut is also one of the best-selling records ever. By September 2008, it had been certified 18x platinum, having shipped 18 million copies in the United States. According to Billboard in 2008, it is also the best-selling debut album of all time in the US.

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5. The Beatles - The Beatles (1968) [19x Platinum]

Although "Abbey Road" remains one of The Beatles' best-selling albums, according to the RIAA it's only 12x platinum. And The Fab Four's self-titled record, being a double album, is The Beatles' most-certified album at 19-times platinum.

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4. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (1977) [20x Platinum]

Fleetwood Mac's eleventh studio album was certified platinum in America and the UK within months of release in 1977 after one million units and 300,000 units were shipped respectively. The record has received a Diamond Award from the Recording Industry Association of America for a 20× platinum certification or 20 million units shipped, making it, as of 2012, the sixth best-selling album in US history.

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3. AC/DC - Back in Black (1980) [22x Platinum]

AC/DC's "Back in Black" became the band's first platinum album in the United States, selling over one million copies. Worldwide, it's the second best-selling album of all time. "Back in Black" was very successful around the world, and despite never reaching no. 1 on the US Billboard 200, it received the 22x multi-platinum distinction, denoting 22 million albums sold.

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2. Pink Floyd - The Wall (1979) [23x Platinum]

Although "The Dark Side of the Moon" is one of the best-selling albums of all time and is in the top 25 of a list of best-selling albums in the United States, according to RIAA certification it's only 15x Platinum. Pink Floyd's most-certified album is "The Wall," that was certified 23x platinum in 1999 (according to the RIAA's special sertification rules for double albums).

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1. Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin IV (1971) [23x Platinum]

Led Zeppelin's fourth studio album is one of the best-selling albums of all time with more than 37 million copies sold. And with such of the band's best-known songs, including "Black Dog," "Rock and Roll," "Going to California" and "Stairway to Heaven," it's one of the highest-certified albums in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America at 23x Platinum.

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0. Michael Jackson - Thriller (1982) [33x Platinum]

Although it's not a rock album, with over 100 million sales worldwide and more than 33 million sales in the United States, Michael Jackson's "Thriller" is the first album ever to be certified 33 times multi-platinum!

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76 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Iceman10129
    Thriller has Zombies, a song about trying to pick up young hot women, and one of Eddie Van Halens coolest solos.  It most definitely counts!
    sombrero_mop
    I just realized how metal that album is. 
    SandKatChappy58
    Thriller had some catchy tunes.  Even so, it's still mind blowing it was the top selling album ever. The only two on that list that don't surprise me as being on the list are the LZ ones.
    SandKatChappy58
    Have to add: Eagles doesn't surprise me either. Had NO idea what the Hotel California was at the time though hehe.
    soundsabbath
    But come on....it's Michael Jackson!
    lordfatwallet
    Bad joke... Q: What do Michael Jackson and Walmart have in common? A: They both have small boys pants at half off! ...I'll show myself out.
    areese82
    It's the biggest selling album ever released by a pedophile
    RaisingCain199
    Where does Nevermind fall on this list?
    fafa1234
    Here's what it says on Wikipedia about Nevermind... "The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has certified the album diamond (at least over 10 million copies shipped), and the album has sold at least 30 million copies worldwide, with 10,640,000 of those copies sold in the United States."
    RaisingCain199
    So 10x Platinum? Its kinda neat to me seeing Hootie managed better album sales than Nirvana's Nevermind. Hootie shouldnt have changed his name to "Darius Rucker" though, it just sounds stupid....
    mobidguitar
    Really? I didnt know they changed their name... do you happen to know why? Nirvana is a really odd band... its not radio friendly, its not positive sounding, not upbeat, the lyric repetition is almost nauseating. I dont get why it became anything.
    Nero Galon
    Check out a documentary about the band. They seem to all explain pretty well how Nirvana pioneered the grunge scene and what the appeal of them were.  Altbough I'm a Nirvana fan I wouldn't flip out on you because it's only like looking back on Mods vs Rocker youth culture where I can understand the appeal but I'm not a fan and that's OK.
    kass1221
    Dark Side of The Moon has been listed at 15x platinum since like 1998 which is not even close anymore. By almost all accounts that album should be at least 20x platinum, although some say has high as 23x. It's up to the artist and record company to have the RIAA re-certify and album, but no one seems to care enough to go through the process. Anyways, Dark Side of The Moon belongs here! 
    Hero_1985
    Metallica isn't "one of" the best selling albums of the soundscan era, it is THE best selling album of the soundscan era. Here's an article about it from when it first happened from a site called Ultimate Guitar. https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/news/general_mu...
    beggar__
    Cool site, I´ll check it out.
    niv0070
    Don't bother.. unless you want to hear how Straight Out Of Compton would have sound if it war released on And Justice For All... .
    William Sitnin
    First I ever hear of Hootie and the Blowfish
    dennis.1960
    Listen to "No" from Max's 1st Soulfly album...
    "No bullshit  No slave ship  No Motherfuckin' Hootie and the Blowfish"  
    Grimpond
    Max really did a number with this record, it was like everything that was horrible about nu-metal, and everything he couldn't really do in Sepultura wrapped up in one big tuned down rumbling tribal shitfest Ft.Fred Durst 
    GR84
    ..... was that a song, or what was that? Why did i listen to that, AHHHHH LIMP BIZKIT FLASHBACKS happening now...ahhhh!
    perrottakarla
    you must be very young. you didnt miss much, cool 90's band, 4 or 5 great songs, thats it.
    Iceman10129
    Where do you live?
    William Sitnin
    The Netherlands
    Iceman10129
    Ah, probably a factor.  In North America they were at one time probably as big as Oasis, haha.  There wasn't a university student who didnt have that album.  
    Hero_1985
    Yeah.  They still play the hits from that record on the radio every day here in the US.  The lead singer is still going strong as a solo country artist here as well.
    mobidguitar
    What does that have to do with university students? That makes no sense. No, they dont have them. Their DAD probably owns it.
    Iceman10129
    You obviously dont understand how years and dates work.  You would, if you went to college.
    Hero_1985
    Everyone owned that album when it came out, hence it being the biggest selling album of the year.  I distinctly remember two friends and I sitting around with our acoustic guitars in the high school gym during lunch playing Let Her Cry.
    mobidguitar
    No, everyone did not own that album. If they did, then it would have 7 billion in record sales, but rather they sold a mere 16 mil... which means 1 in 500 people bought the album... so you were the only two people in your high school that owned it.
    milesak
    Bet you're fun at parties.
    mobidguitar
    You seem to be very confused. Are you sure mom and dad gave you permission to use the internet?
    milesak
    And you seem very angry at people for no reason at all. Are you sure this is the best time for you to be out of therapy?
    mobidguitar
    Tell your mom, when i get home, theres gonna be hell to pay. And go finish your homework for the last time or there will be no supper Miles.
    milesak
    Somehow I don't find myself losing sleep over the opinion of someone whose literally having a temper tantrum over how many people owned some album.
    Hero_1985
    Two friends and I makes three, if my math checks out. There were also only about 100 students in my small ass school. So, we were really a statistical anomally for Hootie and the Blowfish.
    Eifler121
    The White Album kind of sucks.
    WhatMade
    Wrong.
    Eifler121
    It's my least favorite Beatles album, it's the only one I can't listen to all the way through, and there's only 5 songs I like at all on the whole double album.
    GR84
    On the contrary, The Beatles are one of the few examples of a band with a discography that is for the most part completely flawless. Now, the White album is probably not my favorite, but it contains fantastic material from a band at a time where all the personalities were pulling them in extremely different directions musically. This is the album that showcases all the personalities - but also shows us how important it was for the Beatles to work together as opposed to apart. And for that it is a monumentally important album.
    Eifler121
    To me, that reads like; the White Album is an album that's important because their other albums are great, and their otherwise best stuff is from a similar era. That, to me, doesn't make it sound good.
    walker574
    How is "Greatest Hits" by the Eagles not included on this list? According to Wikipedia, "it is the best selling album if the 20th Century in the US. And it stayed the best selling-album in the US for some years until it was surpassed by Michael Jackson's "Thriller" after his death in 2009. It's the second highest-certified album by the RIAA at 29x Platinum, behind "Thriller."