We could talk about the greats of music for hours – the list is never-ending, and whether you’re a Bowie fanatic or obsessed with Oasis; it’s almost impossible to settle on who’s the greatest of them all.
However, there’s a special group of musicians who’ve gone above and beyond throughout their careers – and sold over 150 million certified records.
So hats off, and a huge round of applause, for the following artists who’ve made incredible history.
The Beatles – over 257 million certified units
The Fab Four utterly ransacked the charts between 1962-1970, in one of the most blistering decades the music biz has ever seen – and John, Paul, George and Ringo went on to sell more records than any other act in the history of music. It’s not a bad claim to fame, and even though they were around more than 50 years ago, the Beatles still hold almost every record there is; STILL having sold the most Number One albums in both the British and American charts. We’re hugely looking forward to hosting The Sessions on 15 May, when The O2 arena will see a live restaging of The Beatles’ Abbey Road Studios sessions, with some wonderfully-constructed renditions of their timeless classics produced at the studio.
Elvis Presley – over 206 million certified units
The King certainly knew how to shake things up, and the world hasn’t quite been the same since his first album dropped in ‘56. The mass hysteria he caused during his heydey set the scene for Beatlemania – and the huge cultural shift creeping up in the horizon. We’ve been listening to him on repeat here in The O2 office recently, as we prepare to host Elvis in Concert on 23 November – one of the most eagerly-anticipated events of the year – where the great man himself will be singing his classic hits, through archived recordings, and being backed up by the legendary Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Yep, that’s actually happening! Having received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at the age of 36, he’s still one of the most celebrated and notable figures in pop music history, and it doesn’t look like that’ll be changing any time soon.
Michael Jackson – over 169 million certified units
As one of the most successful artists of all time, Michael Jackson’s place amongst the greats of music will never be in dispute. When the King Of Pop grabbed the mic, the whole world would listen, and there will always be a special place in history for the ex-Jackson 5 star. He holds the record for the best-selling album ever with Thriller. He coined the Moonwalk (while playing a hugely significant role in the birth of MTV). And he’s won more awards than any other artist – ever – with a whopping 13 Grammys in the bag.
Madonna – over 164 million certified units
It’s not a particularly easy feat, but Madonna has literally reinvented the role of women in the music business – as well as reinventing her own image countless times to stay fresh, innovative and ahead of the times! The record books don’t lie, and Madonna currently sits fourth on the best-selling artists list, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the moment she was eligible. The Queen Of Pop seems to turn everything she touches to gold, with her own charity, her own clothing line and her own line of skin care products providing an extension to her glittering music career. The Rebel Heart tour sent The O2 into complete meltdown last year, and we can’t wait to see what Madge has up her sleeve next!
Elton John – over 159 million certified units
Elton John’s legacy goes way beyond the realms of popular music. His impact on British culture will still be felt long after he stops recording and touring, and he became a figurehead for the gay rights movement as one of the first megastars to come out as openly gay. Of course, when it came to music, he truly smashed it – with 35 Gold and 29 Platinum albums, five Grammys, an introduction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a Tony Award and the first ever BRIT Icon Award. Pretty stellar, really.