Recording Industry Announces Artists of Century

The Beatles, Garth Brooks, Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, Eagles and Elton John Top the List

Based on the Recording Industry Association of America's universally recognized Gold, Platinum, Multi-Platinumâ and Diamondä Award program, which has tracked the careers of artists since 1958, the recording community has announced its own "Artists of the Century" list.

Thirty-five years after Beatlemania reached its crest, the Fab Four remain the most successful recording act of the 20th Century. According to a RIAA press release, the Beatles have sold more than 106 million albums in the U.S. alone -- more than any other artist in this century.

Two of the award program's brightest stars, Garth Brooks and Barbra Streisand, are the century's most successful male and female artists. Brooks has sold 89 million albums in the United States -- a total second only to the Beatles. Streisand has sold nearly 62 million albums. Combined, these three artists alone have sold more than 250 million albums domestically -- epitomizing the explosive growth of the music industry in the past four decades.

The RIAA has also announced that the Eagles' "Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975" has reached the 26-million mark, becoming the best-selling album of the 20th century. Michael Jackson's "Thriller" held the record from 1984, -- when the RIAA introduced Multi-Platinum awards -- until January of this year when the Eagles tied his record. "Thriller" remains this century's best-selling album by a solo artist and the best-selling studio album.

Elton John's "Candle In The Wind 1997" is named the top-selling single of the century, with certified U.S. sales of 11 million copies.

Elvis Presley reigns as the performer with the most gold albums and the most platinum albums. The King's wealth has surpassed 77 million units in the U.S. alone.

"These artists represent the very best of popular music," said Hilary Rosen, president and CEO of the RIAA in a press release. "All have been major trendsetters, as well as record-breakers. Their exceptional talent has opened doors for other artists to follow. They deserve the highest accolades the music industry has to offer.''

The Beatles and Elvis Presley revolutionized pop culture-reshaping music, fashion and society--in the 1950s and 1960s. Barbra Streisand proved that women could achieve and sustain stardom on par with any male artist. The Eagles have influenced a generation of rock and country artists. Michael Jackson's success in the 1980s broke the barriers for other African American artists, in the same way that Garth Brooks' success in the '90s blazed a trail for other country performers. Sir Elton John has been one of the century's most enduringly popular and prolific entertainers.

Here is the list:


Garth Brooks

Barbra Streisand


Sir Elton John

Elvis Presley

Country Artists

Top R&B Artists: In the R&B category, the leaders are all major pop crossover stars. Michael Jackson is the top-selling R&B/pop artist overall. Whitney Houston is the top female artist and Boyz II Men are the top group in this category.

Top Rock Artists: The Beatles and Elvis Presley are the top group and male artist in rock. Madonna, whose music straddles the pop, dance and rock worlds, is the top-selling female rock artist. Led Zeppelin is the top hard rock artist and U2 is the top alternative rock artist of the century.

Other Honors: Whitney Houston's 1992 blockbuster, "The Bodyguard," was named top-selling soundtrack album. ``Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Live/1975-85" was cited as both top-certified live album and top-certified box set. Boston's 1976 blockbuster "Boston'' is the century's top-selling debut album. "In Concert,'' the 1990 release by the Three Tenors -- Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti -- is the top-selling classical album. Bob Marley & The Wailers' "Legend" is the top reggae title; TLC's "CrazySexyCool" is the top hip-hop album; and Kenny G's, "Breathless" is the best-selling instrumental album.

DATE: 11/11/99

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