Beatles on top of the century

By Edna Gundersen, USA TODAY

The Beatles are the most successful recording act of the 20th century, according to a report due Wednesday from the Recording Industry Association of America. The legendary British foursome has racked up U.S. sales of more than 106 million albums.

Garth Brooks, with sales of 89 million, ranks second on the RIAA's Artists of the Century list. The century's most successful male solo artist eclipses his female counterpart, Barbra Streisand (62 million).

The RIAA, a trade group for U.S. record companies, has certified gold (500,000 copies) and platinum (1 million) albums in the USA since 1958, the period in which its statistics show that the vast majority of record sales have occurred.

Though his total of 77 million lags behind Brooks, Elvis Presley has accrued more gold (80) and platinum (43) albums than any other act. He also leads in singles, with 50 gold and 27 platinum.

The Eagles' Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, the first release certified platinum by the RIAA, is the century's top-selling album at 26 million, surpassing Michael Jackson's 25-million-selling Thriller, which held the top spot from 1984 through January. Thriller still leads in sales of studio albums and albums by a solo artist.

Other leaders:

Single - Elton John, Candle in the Wind 1997
R&B male - Michael Jackson
R&B female - Whitney Houston
R&B group - Boyz II Men
Rock female - Madonna
Hard-rock group - Led Zeppelin
Alternative-rock group - U2
Country female - Reba McEntire
Country group - Alabama
Hip-hop album - TLC, CrazySexyCool
Live album, box set - Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Live/1975-1985
Debut album - Boston, Boston
Soundtrack - The Bodyguard
Classical album - The Three Tenors, In Concert