Perhaps demonstrating that rock isn’t dead, it just has a hard time getting played on the radio, Led Zeppelin has become the music industry’s second-best-selling artist with more than 63.8 million albums making their way into the marketplace.
The new round of certifications comes after the band’s label, Atlantic Records, provided updated sales information to the Recording Industry Assn. of America.
The nod by the trade comes after eight of the band’s albums and three boxed sets were upgraded in November as part of the RIAA’s monthly certifications.
The new career tally, which is calculated by the trade org on albums shipped to stores but not yet sold through to consumers, puts the English supergroup behind only the Beatles. The Fab Four’s cumulative total tops 100 million units.
The new tally also topples country crooner Garth Brooks from the No. 2 post. The Capitol/Nashville act boasts a career number of 62 million albums.
But Brooks, who entered the second-best slot in January and remains the industry’s best-selling male artist, reached his totals in less than nine years. Led Zeppelin took more than 30 years for the feat. (Both artists currently have discs out that will likely raise their respective tallies by next year).
The RIAA awarded 25 gold (500,000 copies), 22 platinum (1 million) and 34 multiplatinum certifications during the month.
Zeppelin’s “Led Zeppelin IV” ascended to 17 million units and doing so puts the 1971 disc in a tie with Fleetwood Mac’s seminal Reprise Records disc “Rumours” for fifth place among best-selling, multiplatinum discs.
But both acts trail Michael Jackson’s Epic Records’ “Thriller,” (25 million), The Eagles’ Elektra disc “Greatest Hits 1971-1975,” (24 million), and a pair of Columbia Records artists: Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” (22 million) and Billy Joel’s “Greatest Hits Vol. I & II” (18 million). The four discs hold the Nos. 1, 2, 3 & 4 posts, respectively.
Also earning boosts were Columbia artist Mariah Carey’s “Music Box” and Mercury Nashville’s Shania Twain’s “The Woman in Me.” The two discs became the fourth and fifth studio albums by female artists to top the 10 million unit mark.
The songstresses join an impressive list that includes Alanis Morissette’s 1995 Maverick Records bow “Jagged Little Pill” (15 million), Whitney Houston’s eponymous Arista Records disc (12 million) and Carole King’s classic Ode Records offering “Tapestry” (10 million) as the industry’s best-selling albums from female artists.
Twain’s certification is particularly noteworthy as it makes the disc the fourth country album in history to top the 10 million unit mark. Twain joins Garth Brooks — who has two 10 million-plus discs (“No Fences” at 13 million and “Ropin’ The Wind” at 11 million) — and Kenny Rogers’ “Greatest Hits” (11 million) for the honor.
Recent pop album sales chart kingpins Metallica also earned a repertoire boost to 31 million units, as a result of five of its Elektra Records albums being upgraded into multiplatinum territory. The band’s latest, “Re-Load,” logged a first-week sales tally of more than 435,000 copies following its Nov. 18 release. (Daily Variety, Dec. 1).