Biggest selling British acts of all time

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This list documents Britain's best-selling music artists alphabetically[1] as well as by record sales. This page lists those artists who have had claims of over 50 million or more records in sales. The list is divided into numerous record-sales brackets within each of which, artists are listed in alphabetical order, rather than by number of records sold. The artists on the list are supported by third-party reliable sources, the sales-figures within which should represent a total number of sold albums, singles, compilation-albums, music videos as well as downloads of singles and full-length albums.


Although the criteria for the following list are intended to be expansive (including comparisons for total-sales for all recording artists) there are certain limitations and constraints that may limit the conclusions that can be derived from these data.

Such constraints include:

  • Bias towards acts who have had success in a specific country or region.
  • Bias towards older artists. There is a broader genre spectrum of music to listen to now which limits the number of listeners.
  • Bias towards modern artists. Comparatively fewer successful pre-modern artists will have sold more records, as both global spending power and population have increased. In 1950, the world's population was 2.5 billion; by 2000 it had risen to 6 billion. Also, older artists suffer from bias as their record sales are less likely to have been accurately tracked, and estimates of their early sales are likely to be more vague.
  • Fan sites, press articles and record labels have been known to inflate record sales claims.
  • Inflated claims for artists who performed in different acts during their careers. Sometimes all of the sales data is attributed to an individual artist. For the purposes of this list, an effort is made to separate the individual acts (e.g., the sales figures for The Beatles and Paul McCartney & Wings are mutually exclusive).

Artists by reputed sales[edit]

Artist Biggest Selling Album Period Genre Estimated Sales
The Beatles The Beatles[2] 1960–1970 Pop Rock 1 billion[3]
600 million[4][5]

300 million to 400 million records[edit]

Artist Biggest Selling Album Period Genre Estimated sales
Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick Road 1964–present Pop / Rock 350 million[6]
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin IV[2] 1968–1980 Hard rock / Heavy metal 300 million[7][8]
Queen Greatest Hits[9] 1970–present Glam rock / Hard rock 300 million[10][11][12]

200 million to 299 million records[edit]

Artist Biggest Selling Album Period Genre Estimated sales
Cliff Richard Always Guaranteed 1958–present Pop / Rock / Rock N Roll / Jazz 260 million[13]
Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon[14] 1964–2014 Progressive rock 200 million[15][16]
The Rolling Stones Hot Rocks 1964-1971[17] 1962–present Rock / Blues rock 200 million[18]

100 million to 199 million records[edit]

Artist Biggest Selling Album Period Genre Estimated sales
The Dave Clark Five 1964–1970 Pop rock / Beat 100 million[19][20]
David Bowie Let's Dance 1964–2016 Rock 140 million[21][22]
Deep Purple Machine Head 1968–present Hard rock 100 million[23][24]
Depeche Mode Violator 1980–present Electro Rock 100 million[25][26]
Dire Straits Brothers in Arms 1977–1995 Rock / Pop 103 million[27]
Engelbert Humperdinck 1956–present Easy listening 150 million[28]
Fleetwood Mac Rumours 1967–present Pop rock 100 million[29]
Genesis Invisible Touch 1967–present Progressive rock / Pop rock 150 million[30]
George Michael Faith 1981–present Pop 100 million[31]
Iron Maiden The Number of the Beast 1975–present Heavy metal 100 million[32]
Paul McCartney Pipes of Peace 1957–present Pop rock 100 million[33]
Pet Shop Boys Actually 1981–present Synthpop 100 million[34]
Phil Collins No Jacket Required 1980–present Adult contemporary 100 million[35]
Rod Stewart Out of Order 1962–present Rock / Pop 100 million[36]
Status Quo 12 Gold Bars 1967–present Rock 122 million[37]
The Who Who's Next 1964–present Rock / Hard rock 100 million[38]

50 to 99 million records[edit]

Artist Biggest Selling Album Period Genre Estimated sales
Black Sabbath Paranoid 1968–present Heavy metal 50 million[39]
Coldplay A Rush of Blood to the Head 1997–present Alternative rock 80 million[40]
Culture Club Colour by Numbers 1982-present New Wave-Pop 50 million
Def Leppard Hysteria 1977–present Hard rock / heavy metal 65 million[41]
Duran Duran Rio 1978–present New wave / alternative rock 100 million[42]
Eurythmics Greatest Hits 1980–present New wave 75 million[43]
Jethro Tull Aqualung 1968–present Progressive rock / hard rock 60 million[44]
Oasis What's the Story (Morning Glory) 1991–2009 Britpop / Rock 70 million[45]
The Police Synchronicity 1977–present Pop rock / New Wave 50 million[46]
Robbie Williams I've Been Expecting You 1990–present Pop 55 million[47]
Spice Girls Spice 1996–2000
Teen pop 75 million[48]
T. Rex The Slider[49] 1967–1977 Glam rock / Folk rock 58 million[50]
UB40 Labour of Love II 1980–present Reggae 70 million[51]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ List of best-selling music artists
  2. ^ a b 25 Best-Selling Albums of All Time. HowStuffWorks.
  3. ^ "Paul at Fifty: PAUL MCCARTNEY". Time Magazine. 8 June 1992. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  4. ^ "Rock Band' unveils 19 songs for Beatles game". MSNBC. 18 August 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  5. ^ "All You Need Is Cash". NBC. 8 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  6. ^ [1] on Elton John
  7. ^ Gibson, Owen (16 October 2007). "Led Zeppelin to release songs digitally for the first time". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  8. ^ Sorel-Cameron, Peter (9 December 2007). "Can Led Zeppelin still rock?". CNN. Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  9. ^ Queen Score 'best selling album ever'
  10. ^ "ROGER TAYLOR BBC BREAKFAST NEWS VIDEO INTERVIEW". BBC NEWS. 6 November 2009. Archived from the original on 9 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-06. 
  11. ^ "British rock legends get their own music title for PLAYSTATION3 and PlayStation2". EMI Group. 
  12. ^ cite web |'s Greatest Hits is first album to sell 6 million UK copies
  13. ^ Sir Cliff Richard told to demolish conservatory by planners. The Times.
  14. ^ Pink Floyd, The Wall
  15. ^ Fresco, Adam (11 July 2006). "Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett dies at home". Times Online (London). Archived from the original on 25 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  16. ^ "Floyd 'true to Barrett's legacy'". BBC News. 11 July 2006. 
  17. ^ Level 12, Hot Rocks
  18. ^ Holton, Kate (17 January 2008). "Rolling Stones sign Universal album deal". Reuters. Archived from the original on 7 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-26. 
  19. ^ Gundersen, Edna (6 March 2008). "For Dave Clark Five, the accolades finally arrive". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  20. ^ "Dave Clark Five singer Smith dies". BBC News. 29 February 2008. 
  21. ^ Thompson, Jody (8 January 2007). "Sixty things about David Bowie". BBC News. 
  22. ^ "David Bowie". 
  23. ^ "Deep Purple". EMI Music Publishing. 
  24. ^ "Russia's Medvedev meets Deep Purple". USA Today. 11 February 2008. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  25. ^ "Depeche Mode reveal tour details". (ITN). 7 October 2008. Archived from the original on 10 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  26. ^ [tt_news=406&tx_ttnews[backPid]=84&cHash=3ed085be65 "Depeche Mode mit Weltpremiere beim ECHO"]. (in German) (Bundesverband Musikindisrtie-IFPI Germany). 3 February 2009. 
  27. ^ "With Dire Straits no more, Knopfler sails solo". CNN. 13 October 2000. 
  28. ^ The Times on Engelbert Humperdinck
  29. ^ Fleetwood Mac: Biography : Rolling Stone
  30. ^ Lee, Marc (30 May 2008). "Final chapter in the book of Genesis?". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  31. ^ "Michael seeking 'a quieter life'". BBC News. 12 June 2008. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  32. ^
  33. ^ "Biography: Paul McCartney" (in German). MTV Germany. 
  34. ^ "Pet Shop Boys: Biografie". Warner Music Germany (in German). Archived from the original on 18 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  35. ^ Paphides, Pete (25 April 2008). "Phil Collins casually serves notice of his retirement". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  36. ^ "Stewart show backed by public cash". BBC News. 11 April 2002. 
  37. ^ The Times on Status Quo
  38. ^ The New York Times on The Who
  39. ^ "Ozzy Osbourne Goes 'On the Record'". Fox News. 25 May 2007. 
  40. ^ "Coldplay to win the Royal Albert Hall Best British Act Award at O2 Silver Chef Awards". Nordoff-Robbins. 13 May 2013. 
  41. ^ "Def Leppard, Poison coming to White River Amphitheatre in Auburn". The Seattle Times. 26 June 2009. 
  42. ^ Duran Duran To Get Brit Award Honor
  43. ^ "Eurythmics". Sony Music Germany (in German). Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  44. ^ "Interview with Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson". BBC Wiltshire. 
  45. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  46. ^ Robb, Stephen (28 May 2007). "Police fan bands go on patrol". BBC News. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  47. ^ Amanda Andrews and Adam Sherwin (9 January 2008). "Shake-up starts at EMI with departure of UK chief". London: Times Online. 
  48. ^ "Simon Fuller and Judy Craymer plan Spice Girls musical". BBC News. 28 June 2007. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  49. ^
  50. ^ "The death of a glam rock idol". Chronicle Live. 15 September 2007. 
  51. ^ Sherwin, Adam (30 April 2008). "UB40 reveal new lead singer: Ali Campbell's brother Duncan". Times Online (London). Retrieved 2010-04-26.