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It’s the end of an era: Michael Jackson’s Thriller is no longer the best selling album of all time.
Jackson’s 1982 masterpiece went Platinum for the 33rd time in 2016 – the only album to ever do so – but 36 years after it became a global behemoth, another titan is ruling the roost as the best selling album of all time: the Eagles’ 1976 compilation album Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975).
Released on February 17, 1976 and containing a selection of songs from the Eagles’ first four albums released from 1971 up to 1975, Their Greatest Hits pushed Jackson’s Thriller to the #2 spot after the RIAA recalculated sales and certified the album 38x platinum. That’s 38 million records sold worldwide in 42 years, beating out Thriller by a whopping 5 million records sold; not bad, Eagles, not bad at all!
Eagles frontman Don Henley spoke on the band’s newest milestone in a statement issued to Rolling Stone:
“We are grateful for our families, our management, our crew, the people at radio and, most of all, the loyal fans who have stuck with us through the ups and downs of 46 years. It’s been quite a ride.”
This isn’t the first major milestone Their Greatest Hits has hit in four decades (and if being certified 38x platinum is any indication, it’s not the last); upon its release, the album made its presence known immediately, debuting at number four on the Billboard 200 album chart on its first week of release before shooting to the coveted number one slot one week later where it stayed for five weeks solid – but it didn’t stop there.
On February 24th, seven days after its release, the Eagles saw Their Greatest Hits become the first ever album to be RIAA-certified Platinum with over one million records shipped and still it kept selling, selling, selling, becoming the all-time best-selling album of all time at over 29x multi platinum as of 2006.
Thriller was a worthy opponent and its 36 year run at the top is nothing to sneeze at – it spent much of its life in a heated dance with the Eagles’ Their Greatest Hits and held its spot at the top the entire time, after all – but you have to admit that it feels pretty damned good to see the Eagles return to their rightful place: on top.