Elvis Gets a Special Birthday Present

The King Surpasses Garth Brooks as Best-Selling Solo Artist in U.S. History

Elvis Presley has eclipsed Garth Brooks as the best-selling solo artist in U.S. history, the Recording Industry Association of America announced Thursday (Jan. 8) in Memphis, Tenn., to coincide with the Presley’s birthday.

RIAA chairman and CEO Mitch Bainwol joined executives from Presley’s label — RCA Records and the BMG Strategic Marketing Group — in making the announcement outside the gates of Graceland, the late singer’s home.

Brooks had held the title for as best-selling solo artist since October 2000 when he became the first solo artist to sell more than 100 million albums. Quick to note that Presley’s earliest success came before the RIAA began its certification program in 1958, Brooks himself always contended that Presley was the sales king.

In August 2002, Presley’s catalog finally exceeded the 100 million sales mark. During the RIAA’s recent audit, some 15 album titles were certified for the first time or upgraded from previous sales levels. As a result, the RIAA now lists Presley’s sales total at 117.5 million.

Presley’s latest platinum awards for shipments of 1 million copies each include Flaming Star, From Nashville to Memphis, Let’s Be Friends and Separate Ways. Simultaneously certified gold (for shipments of 500,000 copies) and platinum are Double Dynamite, Elvis Sings Hits From His Movies, Vol. 1, Almost in Love and Frankie & Johnny. Gold certifications went to C’mon Everybody, I Got Lucky and his 1956 release, Love Me Tender.

Presley also hit new multi-platinum levels with several albums including Burning Love and Hits From His Movies, Vol. 2 (2 million), The Top Ten Hits (4 million), You’ll Never Walk Alone (3 million) and his best-selling title of all, Elvis’ Christmas Album (9 million).

Presley’s career sales total was also boosted by the recent release of the 2nd to None compilation and 2002’s platinum-selling ELV1S: 30 #1 Hits. He has been awarded 97 gold, 55 platinum and 25 multi-platinum albums.

Calvin Gilbert has served as CMT.com’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.