What are the biggest Classic Rock albums of all time? It can be argued those that sold the most should top the list. This February MGK counts down the 20 Best Selling Classic Rock Albums Of All Time.
Each weekday, all month long, we’re celebrating the albums you (and millions of others) just had to own, featuring the LP’s best songs throughout the day. We'll play extended blocks at 9am and 2pm, plus we’ll play an entire album side today at 7pm.
It's all brought to you by Creamery Tire and Philadelphia’s Classic Rock, 102.9MGK.
20. Steve Miller Band ‘Greatest Hits 1974-1978’ – 13 Million records
You know you're having a good career when you're able to release two greatest hits albums in the span of one decade. Steve Miller Band released their first greatest hits album 'Anthology' in 1972. Their 'Greatest Hits 74-78' album came out in 1978. It featured two singles that reached No. 1, "The Joker" and "Rock'n Me". All of the songs on this album, except for one, came from their last two releases, even though the band had already released 11 albums by this time. Other than the aforementioned tracks, standout songs on this record include: "Swingtown" , "Jungle Love" , "Take the Money and Run", "Fly Like an Eagle" , "Jet Airliner".
19. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band ‘Live 1975-1985’ – 13 million records
As anyone who has seen him live can attest, his studio albums are wonderful but the true essence of Bruce Springsteen can be found when experiencing him live. Bruce and the Band delivered a piece of the live experience to fans with the release of their ‘Live 75-85’ album, which contained 10 years of concert performances. The record provided a front row seat to the masterful way that Springsteen works a crowd & the dynamic chemistry that the members of the E Street Band have with their 'Boss' & each other during one of their most prolific periods of songwriting. The album features favorites such as ‘Thunder Road', 'Spirit In The Night', 'Born In The USA', 'Badlands', 'The Promised Land' as well as a cover of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" & his extremely memorable version of Edwin Starr’s 'War'.
18. Meat Loaf ‘Bat Out Of Hell” – 14 million records
Despite being one of the best-selling albums in the history of recorded music , Meat Loaf was rejected by nearly every record company on the planet when playing some of the songs from this album to music business big wigs. The album, produced by Upper Darby’s own, Todd Rundgren, takes on the feel of a wild, rock n roll fueled musical. It even featured baseball play-by-play by legendary announcer Phil Rizzuto. Thanks to songs like "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth" , "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" , "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad", Meat Loaf proved that taking risks and breaking the mold of making a typical rock album can pay tremendous dividends.
17. The Beatles ‘1962-1966 (The Red Album) – 15 million records
The Beatles ’62-66’ (Red Album) and ’67-70’ (Blue Album) were the first official compilation albums released after the band broke up (in 1970). Despite being broken up, the four members of the band were still enjoying a tremendous amount of success at this point in time while embarking on solo careers. It was this individual success combined with the band’s previous success that helped vault these 2 albums to such massive sales. Despite the great contributions of Ringo Starr and George Harrison throughout their career, the Red Album only contains songs written by Lennon/McCartney.
16. Pink Floyd ‘Dark Side of The Moon’ – 15 million records
The band, with tons of help from engineer Alan Parsons, used multitrack recording, tape loops, sound effects and superb song writing to create this textural masterpiece . The lyrical themes throughout the album dealt with some pretty heavy topics – greed, conflict, death, insanity – but the subject matter didn’t hamper the album’s success or limit its potential audience. ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ is one of the most successful albums, not just rock albums, but albums of all time. It remained on the charts for 741 weeks, from ’73-88.
15. Journey ‘Greatest Hits’ – 15 million records
Although they were frequently chided and discounted by critics, Journey owned radio during the late 70s and 80s. This album certainly speaks to that radio single success as it spent 411 weeks on the Billboard 200 album chart. It’s the greatest chart performance by any other compilation album other than ‘Legend’ from Bob Marley. The album features radio staples like "Don't Stop Believin'" "Faithfully", "Any Way You Want It" , "Open Arms" and more. The power of Journey’s songwriting is evidenced by the fact that they are still touring and selling out arenas (even without Steve Perry on vocals
14. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band ‘Born In the USA’ – 15 million records
'Born In The USA' is Bruce Springsteen's biggest-selling album of all time. It took him from American icon to global superstar. The album’s cover also made his butt quite famous. 'Born In The USA' has it all, whether you are a longtime Bruce disciple or a casual fan enamored with some of his biggest hits. You get anthems ('Born In The USA', 'No Surrender', 'Glory Days'), a song for the ladies ('On Fire'), one for a lady ('Cover Me' was written for Donna Summer) & a huge hit that featured a dancing Courtney Cox.
13. Led Zeppelin ‘Physical Graffiti’ – 16 million records
Despite featuring various musical styles and it being a double album containing new material and unreleased songs from previous sessions, this release sounds like a coherent journey through a time when Zeppelin was at the peak of their artistic powers. Robert Plant felt the album that showed the band at their most creative. It certainly contained a blend of styles - hard rockin' tunes like "Custard Pie", "The Wanton Song" and "Houses of the Holy", the eastern-influenced "Kashmir", the funky “Trampled Under Foot" and even a love ballad "Ten Years Gone".
12. The Eagles ‘Hotel California’ – 16 million records
The Eagles fifth album was without a doubt their best. Their first album with Joe Walsh, the album and especially the title track highlighted the band’s masterful three-guitar interplay. Released during the year of America’s bicentennial, it also served as a concept album in which the band stressed the importance of making changes to the American lifestyle. Songs such as ‘Life In The Fast Lane’ ‘Wasted Time’ and even ‘Hotel California’ took the listener through a wild world of excess.
11.The Beatles 1967-1970 (Blue Album) – 17 million records
The Blue Album was released in 1973 at the same time as The Red Album compilation. This record consisted of 28 songs taken from The Beatles final years as a band. Unlike the Red Album, which contained only songs written by Lennon/McCartney, the Blue Album contained songs written by all four members (Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Starr). The album captures The Beatles at their most adventurous with songs like 'A Day In The Life', 'Revolution', 'I Am The Walrus' as well as their most anthemic 'BacK In The USSR', 'Hey Jude'. There's also plenty of infectious pop hits 'Get Back', 'All You Need Is Love', 'Penny Lane'. Both the Red and Blue compilations truly sum up the band's artistry & contributions from 62-70.
10.Elton John ‘Greatest Hits’ – 17 million records
This record contains 10 of Elton John’s biggest hits during the four year period of 1970-1974. It depicts his creative range and his ability to go from raucous tracks like ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’, to funk tinged ‘Honky Cat’, to huge ballads like ‘Your Song’ and ‘Daniel’.
9. Boston ‘Boston’ – 17 million records
Boston’s debut records was one of the best-selling debut albums of all time. The group’s leader, Tom Scholz, melded his appreciation for classical music with guitar laden and melodic choruses. The albums guitar heavy sound was a drastic contrast to the disco music that ruled the radio airwaves at the time. While the album produced three hit singles, nearly every tune the album has become a classic rock radio staple.
8.Guns N’ Roses ‘Appetite For Destruction’ (18 million albums)
Guns N Roses proved that intense touring and authenticity pay off…..BIG TIME. Although ‘Appetite For Destruction’ only debuted at 182 on the Billboard 200, the album began to rock up the charts after extensive touring which eventually got them radio and MTV airplay. It ended up hitting number one on the charts four different times. The songs reflected the band's personal experiences with life in the big city, heroin and law enforcement as well as love, sex and relationships. Each band member brought songs to the recording sessions and the band members fed off of each other to create a hard rockin’ ride that shook up the country and eventually the world.
7. The Beatles ‘White Album’ – 19 million albums
The White Album is a double album that features a variety of styles - rock, folk, ska/reggae, country. The album spawned Beatles staples such as "Back in the U.S.S.R." , "Dear Prudence" , "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" , "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" , "Blackbird" , "Helter Skelter" "Revoluion 1".By this time in their career, critics and fans had their own interpretations of what they thought The Beatles were trying to accomplish with their music. It was these misconceptions as well as plenty of internal strife during the recording of the album that likely spelled the beginning of the end of the band. The band’s internal quarrels during this period prove to be rather ironic considering that many of the songs were written when they were on a meditation retreat in India.
6. Fleetwood Mac ‘Rumours’ – 20 million albums
In the band’s own words, everyone involved in the recording sessions for ‘Rumours’ endured "tremendous emotional sacrifices". The sessions that produced 1978’s Grammy for Album Of The Year, were full of intense drug use and interpersonal issues between multiple band members. Despite being off balance in their personal lives, The Mac came together as a band, channeled their inner strife and created an album with the perfect mix of acoustic and electric instrumentation, solo and collaborative lyric writing and beautiful thee-part vocal harmonies. Huge airplay for the songs "Go Your Own Way", "Dreams", "Don't Stop", and "You Make Loving Fun" enabled this landmark record to sell millions of copies.
5. AC/DC 'Back In Black' – 22 million albums
While many bands would have collapsed after the untimely death of their lead singer, AC/DC rose from the ashes with a vengeance when they released their 6th album, Back In Black. Brian Johnson and his blaring scream replaced Scott’s & the Young brothers cranked out riff after head banging riff. The record was full of suggestive song titles like 'Let Me Put My Love Into You' and 'Given The Dog A Bone' as well stadium sized anthems that electrified fans & crowds all over the world - 'You Shook Me…' & 'Hells Bells'.
4. Pink Floyd ‘The Wall’ – 23 million albums
‘The Wall’ is deemed by many to be the greatest concept album of all time, it produced a #1 single -"Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)" and is one of the best-selling rock albums of all time. The songs in this twisted rock opera take the listener through the life of Pink, a character based on Roger Waters and former Floyd vocalist, Syd Barrett, while exploring themes of abandonment and isolation. The album’s popularity, despite it’s less than cheery subject matter, is a testament to the quality of its songwriting, arranging and musicianship.
3.Billy Joel ‘Greatest Hits Volume I and II’ - 23 million albums
Billy Joel's Greatest Hits Volume I and II contain the ‘Piano Man’s’ biggest hits from 1973-1985. There are so many huge songs on this album, it's staggering when you realize that these aren't even all of them. He released a Greatest Hits Volume III after this. Anyone that listens to this double album or goes to one of Billy's concerts knows that there's no doubt that he's one of America's greatest songwriters and he is and always will be 'The Entertainer'.
2. Led Zeppelin ‘IV’ – 23 million albums
While Jimmy Page was rumored to have dabbled in black magic, whatever magic the band worked during the sessions for this album cast a spell on fans and critics alike. Despite harsh reviews for Led Zeppelin III, which left the band disillusioned with the music business, Led Zeppelin delivered a follow up album that was a huge critical and commercial success thanks to songs like "Black Dog", "Rock and Roll", "Misty Mountain Hop", "Going to California", and "Stairway to Heaven”. The album mixed two things, which would seem impossible to bring together - folk sensibilities and hard rock - to create a unique, powerful and commercially appealing sound that cemented Zeppelin as one of the greatest bands in history.
1. The Eagles ‘Greatest Hits ’71-75’ – 29 million albums
Released in ’76, The Eagles first compilation album was the best selling album in US history, until ‘Thriller’ knocked it off it’s perch in 2009 (after Michael Jackson’s death). The album contains the biggest songs from The Eagles first four records. Five of the songs on the record charted in the Top 10 and two of them hit the top of the charts. The album features stand out tracks like 'Take It Easy' , 'Already Gone' , 'Lyin Eyes', 'One Of These Nights', 'Take It To The Limit', 'Best Of My Love'. As amazing as the track listing on this album is, there are still a few Eagles hits like ‘Hotel California’ ‘Life In The Fast Lane’ and ‘Long Run’ that aren’t on this record. What the 29 million fans that purchased the album do receive is some of the greatest song writing in the history of rock music. The Eagles brand of vocal harmonies, country tinged rock and guitar strumming dexterity are on full display.