Most successful musical artists of all time
Most successful musical artists of all time
No matter how they come to music or what genre they fall into, almost every recording artist privately shares the same dream: to become an icon in the industry, transforming the face of music along the way. And while there are hundreds of talented and successful artists out there, very few will end up doing all of that. Most will have a hit or two, and many may even achieve a string of successful albums, but few will change the course of popular music or pave a new path for those who follow.
But of course, there have been a handful of modern musicians who have done that. Stacker has rounded up the 50 most successful musical artists of all time. These folks have been trailblazers and icons. They've sold millions of albums and singles, performed countless live shows, and even invented new genres.
In order to come up with this list, Stacker looked at data from both the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Grammy Awards. The RIAA gives out certifications based on the number of albums and singles an artist has sold. Gold albums have sold 500,000 copies; platinum albums have sold 1,000,000 copies; multi-platinum have sold 2,000,000 (with increments of 1,000,000 thereafter), and diamond albums have sold 10,000,000 copies. Stacker then came up with an index to rank each artist that takes into account the total number of RIAA certified units (70%), Grammy wins (20%), and Grammy nominations (10%). Additionally, to be considered for this story, artists must have sold 10 million RIAA certified units.
Some artists found on the list are predictable, like Michael Jackson and The Beatles, while others might be more surprising, like Eminem and Kenny G. Read on to find out whether your favorite musicians made the cut.
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#50. Kenny G
-Certified units: 48 million (15 Gold, 11 Platinum, 8 Multi-platinum, 1 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 1 (17 nominations)
One of the best instrumentalists of all time, Seattle-born saxophonist Kenny G has sold more than 75 million records throughout his career. His 1992 album “Breathless” topped 12 million copies in the United States alone and 15 million worldwide. In the ‘90s, Kenny G worked with dozens of other big names in the music industry like Aretha Franklin and Natalie Cole. He and Whitney Houston also collaborated on several tracks for the “Bodyguard” soundtrack.
#49. Neil Diamond
-Certified units: 49.5 million (40 Gold, 21 Platinum, 12 Multi-platinum)
-Grammy wins: 1 (13 nominations)
Neil Diamond released his 50th anniversary collection was released in In March 2017, a full half century after his first hit “Solitary Man.” Diamond has sold more than 130 million albums worldwide throughout his career and has had 37 Top 40 hits. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's most well-known albums include “Home Before Dark,” “Serenade,” and “Moods.”
#48. Frank Sinatra
-Certified units: 27 million (34 Gold, 10 Platinum, 4 Multi-platinum)
-Grammy wins: 9 (31 nominations)
Most famous during the “crooner-swooner” era, Frank Sinatra is best known for his swing style. “Ol' Blue Eyes” was not only a singer but also a well-known actor, starring in flicks like “Ocean's 11.” Some of his top albums include “Strangers in the Night,” “Come Fly with Me,” and “A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra.”
#47. Alicia Keys
-Certified units: 15.5 million (6 Gold, 5 Platinum, 3 Multi-platinum)
-Grammy wins: 15 (29 nominations)
Alicia Keys actually turned down a spot a Columbia University at the age of 16 in order to pursue music full-time. Six of the Grammy winner's albums have gone platinum: "Girl on Fire," “Songs in A Minor,” “The Diary of Alicia Keys,” “As I Am,” “The Element of Freedom,” and “Unplugged.”
#46. Simon & Garfunkel
-Certified units: 38.5 million (12 Gold, 11 Platinum, 7 Multi-platinum, 1 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 7 (11 nominations)
Folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel got their start early; their rendition of “Hey Schoolgirl” peaked at #49 on the Pop Chart when the two were just 15 years old. But it was during the ‘60s and ‘70s that the duo became a household name with albums like “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Bookends,” and “The Graduate” soundtrack. The countercultural icons were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
#45. Paul Simon
-Certified units: 13.5 million (11 Gold, 6 Platinum, 2 Multi-platinum)
-Grammy wins: 16 (35 nominations)
Paul Simon found plenty of success outside of Simon & Garfunkel. After the group's split at the height of their fame in the ‘70s, Simon struck out on his own and released his most beloved solo album, “Graceland,” in 1986. At the end of 2018, Simon announced he'd no longer be writing music, essentially ending his seven-decade-long career. He returned to the stage just a year later at the Outside Lands festival in San Francisco.
#44. Phil Collins
-Certified units: 33.5 million (10 Gold, 7 Platinum, 6 Multi-platinum, 1 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 8 (28 nominations)
Phil Collins got his start as the drummer for the band Genesis before becoming the group's lead singer and eventually striking out on his own. His first solo hit, “In the Air Tonight,” is an ‘80s anthem, and his albums “No Jacket Required,” “Face Value,” and “...But Seriously” are often regarded as some of the best records to come out of the era.
#43. Linda Ronstadt
-Certified units: 30 million (17 Gold, 13 Platinum, 7 Multi-platinum)
-Grammy wins: 10 (26 nominations)
A true genre-bender, Linda Ronstadt has sung everything from rock to Latin to country to light opera. Most successful in the ‘70s and ‘80s, her top albums include gems like “Heart Like a Wheel,” “Canciones de Mi Padre,” “What's New,” and “Simple Dreams.” Diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2013, Ronstadt no longer performs but she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 2014.
#42. Van Halen
-Certified units: 56.5 million (14 Gold, 13 Platinum, 12 Multi-platinum, 2 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 1 (4 nominations)
Since the band's self-titled debut in 1978, Van Halen has been credited with “restoring hard rock to the forefront of the music scene.” The group's most noteworthy albums include “Van Halen,” “1984,” and “5150.”
#41. Kenny Rogers
-Certified units: 47.5 million (28 Gold, 17 Platinum, 7 Multi-platinum, 1 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 3 (19 nominations)
Old school country music singer Kenny Rogers has a genuine talent for storytelling, which is evident in the more than 120 million records he's sold. He completed his final world tour, “The Gambler's Last Deal,” in 2017.
#40. Fleetwood Mac
-Certified units: 54.5 million (14 Gold, 9 Platinum, 8 Multi-platinum, 1 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 2 (7 nominations)
British-American pop-rock band Fleetwood Mac can lay claim to one of the bestselling albums of all time, “Rumours,” which has sold well over 45 million copies to date—more than some musical groups sell in a lifetime. The album reappeared on the Billboard 200 top 10 in 2020 after a TikTok video featuring the song "Dreams" went viral.
#39. The Chicks
-Certified units: 30.5 million (5 Gold, 4 Platinum, 4 Multi-platinum, 2 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 12 (19 nominations)
This Texas-born trio was at the height of their career in 2003 when Dixie Chicks member Natalie Maines made an on-stage comment about President George W. Bush and his decision to pursue the war in the Middle East. In response, American radio stations refused to play Dixie Chicks songs and fans swore to never buy another album from the band. Nevertheless, records “Taking the Long Way,” “Wide Open Spaces,” “Fly,” and “Home” remain some of the best-selling modern country albums of all time. The country act in 2020 changed its name to The Chicks as a means of distancing itself from a name long-associated with the Confederate-era South.
#38. Aretha Franklin
-Certified units: 10 million (14 Gold, 4 Platinum, 1 Multi-platinum)
-Grammy wins: 18 (44 nominations)
The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom, earned 18 Grammy Awards (including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award), and landed in the #1 spot on Rolling Stone's list of the greatest singers of all time. Her top albums include “Lady Soul,” “Young, Gifted and Black,” “Who's Zoomin' Who,” and “Amazing Grace.” Franklin worked alongside legendary producer Clive Davis for 25 years of her nearly 60-year career. She died in 2018.
#37. Johnny Cash
-Certified units: 23.5 million (19 Gold, 10 Platinum, 6 Multi-platinum)
-Grammy wins: 13 (35 nominations)
From his first original album “Ragged Old Flag” to his live albums like “Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison” to his religious albums like “Hymns by Johnny Cash,” nearly everything this Arkansas singer released was an instant hit with fans and demonstrated a staying power that still makes him one of country's biggest artists. Cash died in 2003 from diabetes complications just months after losing his wife June Carter Cash.
-Certified units: 43.5 million (21 Gold, 10 Platinum, 7 Multi-platinum, 1 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 8 (12 nominations)
Santana burst into the public eye with their performance of the single “Soul Sacrifice” at Woodstock in 1969. The attention surrounding their Woodstock appearance skyrocketed Santana's self-titled debut album—as well as follow-ups “Abraxas” and “Santana II”—to the top of the charts, after which the original lineup parted ways. Since 1971, the makeup of the band has been fluid, with the exception of guitarist Carlos Santana.
#35. Shania Twain
-Certified units: 48 million (5 Gold, 5 Platinum, 4 Multi-platinum, 3 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 5 (18 nominations)
The bestselling female artist in country music, Shania Twain burst onto the scene in 1993. Her second album “The Woman in Me,” produced by then-husband Mutt Lange, sold over 12 million copies, while her third, “Come on Over,” sold more than 40 million copies worldwide.
-Certified units: 28 million (3 Gold, 3 Platinum, 3 Multi-platinum, 2 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 15 (18 nominations)
Soul singer/pop star Adele attended the renowned BRIT School for the Performing Arts and Technology in London, where she was discovered as a teenager. Her debut album “19” earned her four Grammy nominations, while her sophomore album “21” won her six Grammys. But it was her third album “25”—which quickly became the best-selling album in the world—that really secured her place as a legend.
#33. Celine Dion
-Certified units: 50 million (13 Gold, 11 Platinum, 8 Multi-platinum, 2 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 5 (16 nominations)
Canadian-born Celine Dion wrote her first song at the age of 12, and released her first album, which she sang entirely in French, at 13. But it wasn't until 1993, with the release of “The Colour of My Love,” that Dion became a household name. Now, with over 220 million albums sold, she's solidified herself as an icon. Never one to turn down an opportunity, Dion contributed to the 1997 “Titanic” soundtrack and has held multiple residencies in Las Vegas, both of which have allowed her to build a huge and diverse fanbase.
#32. Willie Nelson
-Certified units: 31.5 million (18 Gold, 15 Platinum, 6 Multi-platinum)
-Grammy wins: 9 (51 nominations)
One of the most recognized artists in country music, Willie Nelson made it big with albums “Shotgun Willie,” “Red Headed Stranger,” and “Stardust.” Famous for his affinity for marijuana and his incredible work ethic, Nelson is pushing 90 but shows no signs of slowing down.
-Certified units: 18 million (11 Gold, 9 Platinum, 5 Multi-platinum)
-Grammy wins: 17 (45 nominations)
The lead singer and principal bassist for The Police, Sting didn't embark on his solo career until 1985. His solo albums “...Nothing Like the Sun,” “The Dream of Blue Turtles,” and “Ten Summoner's Tales” were among his most commercially successful, while Police songs like “Every Breath You Take” and “Every Little Thing She Does” were ‘80s classics.
#30. Bob Dylan
-Certified units: 36 million (33 Gold, 15 Platinum, 6 Multi-platinum)
-Grammy wins: 10 (38 nominations)
Noted for its political undertones, Bob Dylan's breakthrough came in 1963 with “The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.” Within a few years, Dylan released “Bringing It All Back Home,” “Highway 61 Revisited,” and “Blonde to Blonde.” Dylan earned an Academy Award in 2000, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016.
#29. George Strait
-Certified units: 69 million (39 Gold, 33 Platinum, 13 Multi-platinum)
-Grammy wins: 1 (16 nominations)
The “king of country music,” George Strait has had 60 #1 singles in his three decades of artistry, more than any other artist in the genre. Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006, Strait has often been referred to as “true country,” as he's always brought the music back to its roots: twangy guitar, a little bit of banjo, and lyrics that tell a story.
-Certified units: 72 million (22 Gold, 20 Platinum, 12 Multi-platinum, 1 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 1 (7 nominations)
Australian band AC/DC has been described in turns as heavy metal and blues-rock, but according to bandmates the sound has always been good old rock 'n' roll. From 1975's “High Voltage” to 1979's “Highway to Hell” and 1980's “Back in Black,” the group has had a string of commercially and critically successful albums. While their hard-partying ways led to the death of former lead singer Bon Scott, they bounced back with Brian Johnson.
#27. The Rolling Stones
-Certified units: 66.5 million (43 Gold, 28 Platinum, 11 Multi-platinum, 1 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 3 (12 nominations)
Famous for bandmate swagger almost as much as the group's music, The Rolling Stones burst onto the scene with a 1963 self-titled debut album. “Aftermath,” which was released in 1966, featured all original music and secured the band's place in rock 'n' roll history. Often placed in opposition to The Beatles both in image and sound, the Stones went on to have a much longer tenure.
#26. Taylor Swift
#25. Pink Floyd
-Certified units: 75 million (19 Gold, 15 Platinum, 12 Multi-platinum, 2 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 1 (4 nominations)
Another English rock band, Pink Floyd has a more psychedelic and progressive sound than contemporaries like The Rolling Stones. “Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wall” are considered some of the most ambitious albums of the era, while fans often cite “Wish You Were Here” and “Momentary Lapse of Reason” as some of the group's most lyrically interesting works.
#24. Paul McCartney
-Certified units: 15.5 million (16 Gold, 7 Platinum, 4 Multi-platinum)
-Grammy wins: 18 (79 nominations)
After The Beatles split up in 1970, Paul McCartney decided it was time to pursue a solo career. Many of his solo albums—like “McCartney,” “Red Rose Speedway,” and “Wings at the Speed of Sound”—reached the top of the charts in both the U.K. and the U.S. McCartney is also recognized as a successful composer and was knighted for his services to music.
#23. Whitney Houston
-Certified units: 58.5 million (10 Gold, 9 Platinum, 7 Multi-platinum, 2 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 6 (25 nominations)
With over 200 million album, single, and video sales throughout her career, Whitney Houston brought superstardom to a new level. The first female artist to enter the Billboard 200 Album Chart at #1 with her second album “Whitney”—and the only artist to have eight consecutive platinum albums—Houston's many records still stand nearly seven years after her sudden and unexpected death in 2012.
-Certified units: 66.5 million (25 Gold, 18 Platinum, 12 Multi-platinum, 1 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 4 (14 nominations)
Aerosmith led rock and roll through the ‘70s, ‘80s, and early ‘90s. Lead singer Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry were known as “the toxic twins” for their fondness for illicit substances, but even in the midst of all the partying, they still managed to keep their focus on the music, producing albums like “Rocks,” “Nine Lives,” and “Get a Grip.”
#21. Kanye West
-Certified units: 13.5 million (8 Gold, 7 Platinum, 4 Multi-platinum)
-Grammy wins: 21 (70 nominations)
Chicago-born rapper Kanye West has become one of the most controversial figures in rap following his comments about his political and religious views and a handful of onstage meltdowns. From his debut album “The College Dropout” to “Graduation” to “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” and “The Life of Pablo,” West has proven he's not only a lyrical genius but an artist with a vision and a pioneer for his genre.
#20. Vince Gill
-Certified units: 24 million (13 Gold, 11 Platinum, 6 Multi-platinum)
-Grammy wins: 21 (47 nominations)
Vince Gill was a dominant country music artist throughout the 1990s and early ‘00s. His breakout album “When I Call Your Name” won him a collection of CMA Awards, as well as a role as a Grand Ole Opry cast member. It also spawned follow-up albums “When Love Finds You” and “The Key.”
#19. Mariah Carey
-Certified units: 64 million (16 Gold, 14 Platinum, 10 Multi-platinum, 2 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 5 (34 nominations)
Born on Long Island with a five-octave vocal range, Mariah Carey released her debut album “Mariah Carey” in 1990. The album sold a stunning 6 million copies and was the first in a long string of successful records including the iconic holiday hit “Merry Christmas,” 1997's “Butterfly,” and 2005's “The Emancipation of Mimi.” Carey remains one of the best-selling and most-decorated recording artists of all time.
-Certified units: 63 million (13 Gold, 13 Platinum, 11 Multi-platinum, 1 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 8 (18 nominations)
In 1981, Lars Ulrich placed a newspaper ad that fatefully found its way to James Hetfield. Overnight, Metallica was born. After recruiting a few more members, the heavy metal band found its groove and has played together since. Some of Metallica's most famous albums include the self-titled “Metallica,” “Load” and its follow up “Reload,” “St. Anger,” and “Hardwired...to Self Destruct.”
#17. Eric Clapton
-Certified units: 40 million (23 Gold, 11 Platinum, 7 Multi-platinum, 1 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 17 (37 nominations)
Eric Clapton is the only musician to ever be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times. One of the best guitarists in history, Clapton's albums “From the Cradle,” “Slowhand,” and “461 Ocean Boulevard” are also excellent displays of his talents as a singer-songwriter.
-Certified units: 64.5 million (20 Gold, 17 Platinum, 12 Multi-platinum, 2 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 7 (28 nominations)
The second bestselling female recording artist of all time, Madonna has earned her title as the Queen of Pop. Controversial from the outset, Madonna has never been tame and has certainly been trailblazing. Albums such as “Like a Prayer,” “Erotica,” and “Hard Candy” have inspired many of the world's top musical acts and artists, and her openness with audiences paved the way for reality stars and social media influencers.
#15. Beyoncé Knowles
-Certified units: 13 million (6 Gold, 6 Platinum, 4 Multi-platinum)
-Grammy wins: 24 (79 nominations)
Rising to fame as a member of Destiny's Child, it wasn't until she embarked on a solo career that Beyoncé found her current level of success and superstardom. With more than 100 million recordings sold, Knowles' albums have spawned legions of hardcore fans and made Beyoncé an essential recording artist of the 21st century.
-Certified units: 46 million (11 Gold, 9 Platinum, 8 Multi-platinum, 2 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 15 (44 nominations)
One of the few white rappers to ever achieve widespread commercial acclaim, Eminem—born Marshall Mathers—won the 1997 Rap Olympics MC Battle in Los Angeles before releasing “The Slim Shady EP,” which was an instant blockbuster. His follow-up, “The Marshall Mathers LP,” did even better, selling nearly 2 million copies in its first weeks. With 13 studio albums to his name, Eminem has established himself as not only one of the best white rappers but one of the best rappers of all time.
#13. Stevie Wonder
-Certified units: 19.5 million (12 Gold, 7 Platinum, 2 Multi-platinum, 1 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 25 (74 nominations)
A child prodigy, Stevie Wonder was signed to a Motown label by the age of 11. After a brief break from the spotlight, he reemerged with 1968's “For Once In My Life.” The ‘70s brought some of his biggest albums including “Songs in the Key of Life” and “Fulfillingness' First Finale.” Wonder has always been a prominent social activist, and in 2014 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his humanitarian efforts.
-Certified units: 27.5 million (14 Gold, 13 Platinum, 8 Multi-platinum)
-Grammy wins: 22 (80 nominations)
Growing up in Brooklyn's Marcy Projects, Jay-Z may not have had any idea he'd become one of the major players shaping modern culture and music. From his first album “Reasonable Doubt” to “The Blueprint” and “The Black Album” to Roc Nation and Tidal, Jay-Z is not only an incredible musician but an astute businessman. In 2008, he married fellow recording superstar Beyoncé Knowles.
#11. Elton John
-Certified units: 78.5 million (38 Gold, 27 Platinum, 14 Multi-platinum, 1 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 5 (34 nominations)
Elton John holds the record for bestselling single of all time with 1997's “Candle in the Wind.” Another child prodigy—at 3 years old he could play “The Skater's Waltz” by ear—Sir Elton John has been releasing music since 1969. From 1972–1975, he had seven #1 albums, including “Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” and “Caribou.”
#10. Barbra Streisand
-Certified units: 68.5 million (51 Gold, 30 Platinum, 12 Multi-platinum)
-Grammy wins: 8 (46 nominations)
Barbra Streisand wears many hats as an actress, composer, director, and author, among other things, but the one role she's adopted with unparalleled success is that of a recording artist. She's sold more than 72.5 million albums—the most of any woman musician—and her greatest records include titles like “People,” “Guilty,” “The Way We Were,” and “Partners.” A host of awards sit on Streisand's shelf, including two Grammys (one of which was Album of the Year) for her debut album “The Barbra Streisand Album.”
#9. Billy Joel
-Certified units: 84.5 million (18 Gold, 17 Platinum, 13 Multi-platinum, 2 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 5 (23 nominations)
Billy Joel signed his first recording contract in 1972 with the goal of writing and recording songs that “meant something during the time in which I lived ... and transcended that time.” Records like “Piano Man,” “The Stranger,” “52nd Street,” and “Glass House” are evidence that he's done more than accomplish that goal. Madison Square Garden announced in 2013 that Billy Joel would be their first-ever music franchise, and in July 2018, he marked a record-setting 100 shows at the venue (many of which were sold out).
-Certified units: 52 million (17 Gold, 17 Platinum, 12 Multi-platinum, 1 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 22 (46 nominations)
Much like Metallica, U2 started with a “musicians wanted” ad posted on the notice board at Dublin's Temple Mount School in 1976. 45 years later, the Irish rock band is one of the bestselling groups of all time, having released iconic albums like “Joshua Tree” and “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.” They've also had the most successful concert tour of all time, U2360°, which played 110 shows to 7.2 million fans.
#7. Led Zeppelin
-Certified units: 111.5 million (19 Gold, 18 Platinum, 14 Multi-platinum, 5 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 1 (3 nominations)
After the Yardbirds split in 1968, Jimmy Page got to work putting together his next band, a group that would give us albums like “Led Zeppelin II,” “Houses of the Holy,” and “Physical Graffiti.” While their time together was short-—they only released new music from 1969 to 1979—it was hugely influential.
#6. Michael Jackson
-Certified units: 84 million (15 Gold, 13 Platinum, 9 Multi-platinum, 2 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 13 (38 nominations)
Dubbed “The King of Pop,” Michael Jackson was one of the greatest entertainers of all time and a significant cultural icon. Although his life was clouded by controversy—some of which followed him into death—his music, from his debut album “Got to Be There” to his bigger hits like “Thriller,” “Bad,” and “Dangerous,” resonated with millions of fans. There's some disparity surrounding how many albums Jackson has sold, although most estimates put it somewhere in the hundred-millions. Regardless, he can lay claim to the only album (“Thriller”) to have ever gone 30 times multi-platinum in the United States.
#5. Bruce Springsteen
-Certified units: 65.5 million (22 Gold, 17 Platinum, 11 Multi-platinum, 2 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 20 (50 nominations)
Bruce Springsteen has long been credited as the voice of the working class, thanks to the fact that his music often details what life is like for those born without a silver spoon in their mouths. His most iconic album, “Born in the U.S.A.,” and others like “Born to Run” and “Tunnel of Love” are filled with lyrics about summer love and relaxing after a long day of work. The New Jersey native crushed fans' dreams when he announced he wouldn't be touring with his E Street Band in 2019, but his upcoming album "Western Stars" should ease the pain.
-Certified units: 120 million (13 Gold, 13 Platinum, 11 Multi-platinum, 3 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 6 (18 nominations)
This 1970s rock band, which started out as Linda Ronstadt's backup players, has sold more than 150 million albums. The modern incarnation of the Eagles got together in 2019 for first-ever performances “Hotel California” in its entirety.
#3. Garth Brooks
-Certified units: 148 million (30 Gold, 30 Platinum, 16 Multi-platinum, 7 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 2 (14 nominations)
The first artist in history to have seven albums achieve diamond status, Garth Brooks combines country and rock and roll in a winning sound for audiences everywhere. His “Garth Brooks World Tour with Trisha Yearwood” tour lasted from 2014 to 2017 and sold 6.3 million tickets in North America, which made it the biggest North American tour in history at the time.
#2. Elvis Presley
-Certified units: 146.5 million (117 Gold, 67 Platinum, 27 Multi-platinum, 1 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 3 (14 nominations)
“The King of Rock and Roll,” Elvis Presley changed the face of music with his golden voice and scandalous dance moves following the release of his debut album “Elvis Presley” in 1956. His numerous movie soundtracks—like “Blue Hawaii” and “Girls! Girls! Girls!”—sold just as well, if not better, than his original studio albums. A total heartthrob, Elvis incited riots nearly everywhere he went. Today, devoted fans can still get a glimpse of the cultural icon's life by visiting his estate-turned-museum, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee.
#1. The Beatles
-Certified units: 183 million (48 Gold, 42 Platinum, 26 Multi-platinum, 6 Diamond)
-Grammy wins: 7 (23 nominations)
Finally, the title for the most successful musical artist of all time goes to The Beatles. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr joined forces in Liverpool, England in 1960. Worldwide sales for the group have reached unparalleled levels: 1.6 billion singles and 600 million albums. “A Hard Day's Night,” “Help!,” “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club,” “The White Album,” “Abbey Road,” and “Let It Be” were amongst the best of their offerings before their untimely dissolution in 1970.