The Eagles – Their Greatest hits (1971-1975)
Their Greatest Hits sold so much that it stands at six million copies ahead of its closest competitor in the classic rock category. The album was certified “platinum” as it has sold over 29 million copies in the US alone.
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV
Led Zeppellin’s fourth studio album racked up an impressive figure and holds position of being the best-seller in the original single-disc all-time rock album. The album featured classics like “Black Dog,” “Rock and Roll” and “Stairway to Heaven” and has sold 23 million copies in the US alone. It eventually went on to become one of the best-selling albums ever with over 37 million units sold.
Pink Floyd – The Wall
The Wall is Pink Floyd’s best-selling classic rock album, having sold over 23 million units in the US. The double disc set featuring songs that highlight the death of a young boy’s father, abusive school teachers and an overprotective mother — which helped the group deliver some superb music that left classic rock enthusiasts coughing up all of their cash to get the album.
AC/DC – Back in Black
After the death of their first lead singer Bon Scott, few would have predicted that AC/DC would bounce back – and bounce back even more with an incredibly successful album that would eventually sell over 22 million copies. Black in Back, AC/DC’s first album new vocalist Brian Johnson at the helm, became a rock masterpiece. Its success further fueled the group to produce a fine set of anthemic rock songs that continue to thrill generations of rock fans up to the present
Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
Fleetwood Mac ruled their music and delivered Rumours either through the many romantic traumas or drug and substance abuse. Whatever the motivation was, Rumours rose to the top 10 of the Billboard 200 and has sold 20 million copies globally, earning multi-platinum status.
The Beatles – The Beatles
The Beatles’ self-titled 1968 double LP – more popularly known as “The White Album” — was released 18 months after their seminal album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It came out at the time when the relationship between the band mates continued to sour – thus the album’s eclectic but discordant nature. The Beatles is also an earliest known example on how a double-album release could blow up sales. The Beatles may have sold 1.5 million less than Sgt. Pepper. But since each of its two discs is counted as one sale, The Beatles‘ official sales stand at 19 million.
Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction
Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction is significant in classic rock history because of a couple of things: one, it is generally viewed as the album that single-handedly put an end to “hair metal” (although some critics still do refer this album as a “hair metal” record). And two, it became the most successful debut album of all time, having sold around 30 million copies worldwide (including over 18 million units in the US alone) and topping the Billboard 200 chart.
Boston – Boston
While Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction is the best-selling debut album of all time, Boston’s self-titled first LP is the second most successful, having sold 17 million copies in the US alone. Not bad for front man Tom Scholz who recorded it in his apartment basement. The album’s singles, most popularly “More Than a Feeling,” still receives heavy airplay on most classic rock radio stations today.
The Beatles – 1967-1970
Another Beatles double-album release that makes to the best-sellers list is 1967-1970 (aka “The Blue Album”), which contains hits released from the latter period of the band’s career. It was released together with 1962-1966 (aka “The Red Album”).
The Eagles – Hotel California
Hotel California is generally considered as the peak of The Eagles’ creativity and commercial appeal. The album’s title track, with its Latin-influenced folk rock, became a million-selling hit and has since enjoyed numerous covers.
Paul McCartney – Band on the Run
Among all the ex-Beatles launching their own solo careers, Sir James Paul McCartney is the most commercially prolific and successful. One of the crowning moments of his career is his third studio album along with his band Wings. Band on the Run was and remains McCartney’s most successful post-Beatles album, critically as well as commercially.
Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
The colorful English singer-songwriter and pianist is one of classic rock and pop’s most creative and prolific geniuses. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road came out during the peak of his career, critically as well as commercially. It remains his best-selling album and still the darling of critics and fans alike. It contains songs such as “Candle in the Wind,” “Bennie and the Jets,” “Saturday Night’s All Right for Fighting,” as well as the title track.
Eric Clapton – Unplugged
Unplugged became immensely successful largely because of the single “Tears in Heaven,” a mournful ode to his late young son Conor. It also features an acoustic version of “Layla,” his old hit with Derek and the Dominos. It sold 26 million copies, becoming Clapton’s best-selling album of his career as well as the best live album of all time.
Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks
Although Bob Dylan has denied that Blood on the Tracks was based on his failing marriage, the songs say otherwise. In fact, their son Jakob himself has described the songs as “my parents talking.” Blood on the Tracks remains Bob Dylan’s most critically and commercially successful album, and is ranked #16 on Rolling Stone‘s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”
David Bowie – Blackstar
David Bowie’s 25th studio album Blackstar was released on January 8, 2016, coinciding his 69th birthday. Sadly, it was going to be his last too, as he died only two days after. His death prompted shock waves from his fans around the world. It was only then where they learned he had been secretly battling liver cancer for months.
Blackstar met wide critical acclaim and commercial success. It became Bowie’s best-selling album — even outselling his earlier classic rock ones such as The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. It is Bowie’s only album to hit #1 on the US Billboard 200 chart, making his farewell a bit more bittersweet.
Phil Collins – No Jacket Required
The former Genesis drummer and lead singer finally hit his stride with his third solo album No Jacket Required in 1985. Stellar guest performers aside (Sting and Collins’ ex-Genesis mate Peter Gabriel), the album also features memorable pop tunes like “Sussudio” and “One More Night.” The album sold over 25 million copies worldwide, which further solidified Collins’ status as one of the popular male pop and rock vocalists during the 1980s.