Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975)

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Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975)
Eagles - Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975).jpg
Compilation album by
ReleasedFebruary 17, 1976
StudioOlympic and Island, London; The Record Plant, Los Angeles; Criteria, Miami
The Eagles chronology
One of These Nights
Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975)
Hotel California

Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) is the first compilation album by the Eagles, released in 1976. The album contains a selection of songs from the Eagles' first four albums released in the period from the Eagles' formation in 1971 up to 1975.

Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) reached number one on the US Billboard 200, where it stayed for five weeks. "One of These Nights" and "Best of My Love" both topped the Billboard Hot 100. The album has the distinction of being the first album to receive the RIAA Platinum certification, which was introduced in 1976 to recognize albums that shipped one million copies in the United States. It was ranked number four on the Billboard year-end album chart of 1976 and has spent a total of 239 weeks on the Billboard 200 as of August 2018.

Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) was the best-selling album of the 20th century in the United States, and it stayed the best-selling album in the U.S. for some years until it was surpassed by Michael Jackson's Thriller after the artist's death in 2009.[1] In August 2018, it regained the title of the best-selling album in the U.S.; In 2017, it was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant".[2]


Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) comprises nine singles released between 1972 and 1975, plus the album track "Desperado". All of these singles except "Tequila Sunrise" charted in the top 40, with five in the top ten, and "One of These Nights" and "Best of My Love" both topping the singles chart.

The manager of Eagles, Irving Azoff, said: "We decided it was time to put out the first greatest-hits because we had enough hits."[3] However, according to Don Felder, none of the band members had any say in the decision to release the compilation album.[4] The band complained that the album was "nothing more than a ploy by the record company to sell product without having to pay additional production costs".[5] Don Henley was unhappy that songs like "Tequila Sunrise" and "Desperado" were lifted out of the context of the original album in a way that he thought detrimental to the nature, quality and meaning of the music. He said: "All the record company was worried about were their quarterly reports. They didn't give a shit whether the greatest hits album was good or not, they just wanted product."[5] Despite being unhappy with the album's release, the band nevertheless reasoned that it gave them more time to work on the Hotel California album.[6]


The cover of the album is an image of an artwork created by Boyd Elder, also known as "El Chingadero", whose work was also used for the cover of One of These Nights.[7] The work was created from a plastic cast of an eagle skull, which was then painted.[8] The skull was set against a light-blue background made of silver mylar, and the bumpy appearance of the background gave rise to a myth that it was cocaine powder that they were using. Glenn Frey also noticed the resemblance, telling Elder that the background reminded him of "a field of blow" (slang term for cocaine), however the band chose not to debunk the myth.[3] The artist was paid $5,000 for the work.[8]

As with their previous album One of These Nights, the original vinyl editions feature messages printed onto the inner vinyl dead wax. In this case, "Happy New Year, Glyn" and "With Love from Bill" appear on sides one and two respectively.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[9]
Christgau's Record GuideB[10]
The Daily VaultA[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide5/5 stars[12]

William Ruhlmann of AllMusic thought the songs in the compilations melodic and immediately engaging, and that they have lyrical consistency. He wrote: "... unlike the albums from which they come, these songs make up a collection consistent in mood and identity, which may help explain why Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) works so much better than the band's previous discs and practically makes them redundant. No wonder it was such a big hit out of the box ..."[9]

The album was voted by the public number 6 out of 25 compilation albums in the 1994 edition of All Time Top 1000 Albums.[13] In a poll of 50 rock critics and DJs organized by Paul Gambaccini in 1978, it was ranked number 141.[14]

Commercial performance[edit]

Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200 album chart on its first week of release,[15] and reached number one in the following week, where it stayed for five weeks.[16][17] It was ranked number four on the Billboard year-end album chart of 1976 and has spent a total of 239 weeks on the Billboard 200 as of August 2018.[18][19] The album has also been number one on the Billboard Top Pop Catalog Albums chart for 15 non-consecutive weeks and has spent 465 weeks on the chart.[19]

The album has the distinction of being the first album to receive the RIAA platinum award, which was introduced in 1976 to recognize albums that shipped one million copies in the United States.[20][21] It received its certification on February 24, 1976, a week after its release. It was certified 12× platinum in August 1990, 14× platinum in 1993, 22× platinum in 1995, and then became the best-selling album of the 20th century in the United States when it was certified 26× platinum on November 10, 1999.[22][23] In a 2001 radio interview, Randy Meisner said neither he nor Bernie Leadon were notified of the award presented to the band in 1999, and "...had to call and we finally received it."[24] It was certified 29× platinum on January 30, 2006. In August 2018, it was certified 38x platinum under a new system that tallies album and track sales as well as streams. It again became the highest-certified album by the RIAA, surpassing Michael Jackson's Thriller which is certified 33× platinum.[25]

There is skepticism of the album's certifications. From 1993 to 1995 the album received certifications for an additional eight million units, yet per Nielsen SoundScan it sold fewer than a million copies during that time. The album sold just over five million copies from 1991, when SoundScan began tracking, to 2006, although certifications indicate 17 million albums shipped between that time.[26][27][28] It has accrued 6.4 million in units consumed from 1991 to February 2020.[29] In 2018 Sony Music CEO Rob Stringer stated the album had only sold 2.3 million album-equivalent units from 2006 to 2018 yet it received certification for nine million units during that time. Warner Music, which distributed Their Greatest Hits, claims the figure comes from newly-discovered sales dating back to 1976. A representative from Jackson's estate stated "The notion that they can go back 10, 15, 20 or 30 years and find units that were never counted before is absurd, they reviewed these records before. Why didn’t they find those uncounted records then?" and noted sales audits are usually restricted to three years.[30]

Worldwide, the album has sold over 42 million copies as of 2011.[1][31] Therefore, it's the best-selling greatest-hits album, as well as one of the five best-selling albums of all time.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Take It Easy" (from Eagles, 1972)Frey3:29
2."Witchy Woman" (from Eagles)Henley4:10
3."Lyin' Eyes" (from One of These Nights, 1975)
  • Don Henley
  • Glenn Frey
4."Already Gone" (from On the Border, 1974)
5."Desperado" (from Desperado, 1973)
  • Don Henley
  • Glenn Frey
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."One of These Nights" (from One of These Nights)
  • Don Henley
  • Glenn Frey
2."Tequila Sunrise" (from Desperado)
  • Don Henley
  • Glenn Frey
3."Take It to the Limit" (from One of These Nights)
4."Peaceful Easy Feeling" (from Eagles)Jack TempchinFrey4:16
5."Best of My Love" (from On the Border)





Chart (1976) Peak
Canadian RPM Albums Chart[33] 1
New Zealand Albums Chart[34] 2
Norway (VG-lista)[35] 8
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[36] 31
UK Albums (OCC)[37] 2
US Billboard 200[38] 1


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[39] 8× Platinum 560,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[40] 2× Diamond 2,000,000^
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[41] Platinum 20,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[42] Platinum 300,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[23] 38× Platinum 38,000,000double-dagger

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Anderson, Kyle (July 20, 2009). "Michael Jackson's Thriller Set to Become Top-Selling Album of All Time". MTV. Viacom.
  2. ^ "National Recording Registry Picks Are "Over the Rainbow"". Library of Congress. March 29, 2016. Retrieved March 29, 2016.
  3. ^ a b Knopper, Steve (January 20, 2016). "How the Eagles' 'Greatest Hits' Invented a New Kind of Blockbuster". Rolling Stone.
  4. ^ "How The Eagles took it to the limits". Archived from the original on July 18, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-20.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link). The Times (London). October 12, 2007
  5. ^ a b Eliot, Marc (2004). To the Limit: The Untold Story of the Eagles. Da Capo Press. pp. 140–141. ISBN 978-0-306-81398-6.
  6. ^ Browne, David (June 10, 2016). "Eagles' Complete Discography: Don Henley Looks Back". Rolling Stone.
  7. ^ Stephen K. Peeples (March 31, 2015). "Boyd Elder: Encounters of the Southwestern Kind, 1978".
  8. ^ a b Corcoran, Michael (February 10, 2016). "Respect Boyd Elder, Valentine, Texas' Greatest Hit". Lone Star Music Magazine.
  9. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. "Eagles – Their Greatest Hits 1971–1975". AllMusic.
  10. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: E". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved February 24, 2019 – via
  11. ^ Thelen, Christopher (2019). "The Daily Vault Music Reviews : Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)". Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  12. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian David (2004). Eagles. Simon and Schuster. Archived from the original on February 28, 2013. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  13. ^ "The Guinness All Time Top 1000 Albums 1994". Rock List Net.
  14. ^ "The World Critic Lists". Rock List Net.
  15. ^ "Billboard 200". Billboard. March 6, 1976.
  16. ^ "Billboard 200". Billboard. March 13, 1976.
  17. ^ Gallucci, Michael (February 17, 2016). "40 Years Ago: Eagles Become the First Band to Go Platinum With 'Their Greatest Hits'". Ultimate Classic Rock.
  18. ^ "Album". Billboard. December 25, 1976.
  19. ^ a b "Eagles". Billboard. Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  20. ^ Grein, Paul (Nov 30, 2012). "Chart Watch Extra: Where "Thriller" Ranks". Chart Watch. Yahoo Music. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
  21. ^ Michael Campbell, James Brody (2008). Rock and Roll: An Introduction (2nd ed.). Thomson Schirmer. p. 308. ISBN 978-1-111-79453-8.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b "American album certifications – Eagles – Eagles/Their Greatest Hits". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved August 20, 2018. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  24. ^ "Randy Meisner of the Eagles Interview : Smooth Jazz Now Radio Streaming Live". Archived from the original on 2011-01-11. Retrieved 2009-11-28.
  25. ^ "RIAA: Eagles' Greatest Hits Certified 38x Platinum, Passing 'Thriller'". Billboard. Associated Press. August 20, 2018.
  26. ^ "On SoundScan and Music Celebrity". Shallow Rewards. December 2, 2015. Archived from the original on July 12, 2018. Retrieved August 26, 2018.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  27. ^ ""Thriller" sales soar close to Eagles' "Hits"". Reuters. July 19, 2009.
  28. ^
  29. ^ Bjorke, Matt (February 10, 2020). "Country Music's Most-Consumed Album Chart: February 10, 2020". Roughstock. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  30. ^ Eagles vs. Michael Jackson: Questions Linger Over Best-Selling Album of All Time. Billboard. 25 March 2019.
  31. ^ "Rocking Like a Bat out of Hell for 35 Years... And Counting". Billboard. November 26, 2011.
  32. ^ "Their Greatest Hits 1971–1975 – Eagles | Credits". AllMusic. 1976-02-17. Retrieved 2014-03-04.
  33. ^ "RPM Top Albums". RPM. 25 (5). May 1976. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 23, 2012. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  34. ^ " – Eagles – Their Greatest Hits". Mega Album Top 100. Hung Medien / Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  35. ^ " – Ealges – Their Greatest Hits". VG-lista. Hung Medien. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  36. ^ " – Eagles – Their Greatest Hits". Albums Top 60. Hung Medien. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
  37. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  38. ^ "Eagles Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard.
  39. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2008 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  40. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Eagles – Greatest Hits 1971–1975". Music Canada. Retrieved March 15, 2012.
  41. ^ "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award − 1979". IFPI Hong Kong. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
  42. ^ "British album certifications – Eagles – Their Greatest Hits 1971–1975". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved July 4, 2011. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Their Greatest Hits 1971–1975 in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.