Nov 05, 2020
By Gene Stevens
What are the all-time biggest-selling records? Music fans and record collectors love this question – with its endless answers prompting excited debates, and sometimes intense arguments. It gets more complicated with modern technology and all the many ways we can ‘consume’ music today. Are we talking physical records, albums or 45’s; are we including digital sales from on-line music services, or streaming data? Are we looking at Canada, the US, North America, the world? See what I mean?
I thought I’d keep it simple by sticking to the original question: ‘….biggest selling records’. Actual physical records (vinyl and CDs) – from before the recent era of digital downloads and streaming. And in this first of a two-part feature, we’ll look at singles: the individual single release; counting worldwide sales. Next Sunday (Nov. 15), we’ll check out the all-time worlwide top-selling albums. One thing I can promise – tremendous variety – and some real surprises. (OK, two things !)
I’ll also have two major Canadian birthday spotlights – on Joni Mitchell at 77, and Neil Young who’s turning 75.
The first-hour feature – ‘This Week in Zoomer Music’ includes the Beatles live performance at the Royal Variety Show in 1963, when John Lennon famously asked the wealthy to ‘just rattle your jewellery’. We’ll feature the very first song to top the first UK music chart, introduced this week in 1952; the first song to go into the Billboard Top 3, in three different versions, in three different decades; and the day Bruce Springsteen gave ‘the shirt off his back’ to charity. It’ll be another fine Sunday afternoon listening to the radio – join me. Cheers.