Country music grew out of folk songs, spirituals, blues, and other traditional forms. The first commercial country music recordings – a couple of fiddle instrumentals – were made in 1922, with the first country song with lyrics following the next year. The genre’s popularity surged over the next decade and today, it is a multi-billion dollar part of the overall music industry in America.
Garth Brooks, one of the biggest stars in country music, has sold 157 million albums so far in his career. His top-selling effort, and the best-selling country music album of all time, is “Double Live,” released Nov. 4, 1997.
Even people who do not listen to country music have most likely heard of the Grand Ole Opry, the temple for country music artists, many of whom started their careers there. The Grand Ole Opry is in Nashville, Tennessee, often called “Music City.”
To determine the best-selling country albums of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on certified U.S. album sales from the Record Industry Association of America. Albums identified as country by the RIAA or that have charted on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart were ranked based on lifetime U.S. unit sales. Data on certification also came from the RIAA. Historical chart data used to determine performance on the Billboard 200 was collected October 2021.
The list of best-selling albums is mostly dominated by albums from the 1990s and 2000s, though there are also some more recent records. The ‘90s and ‘00s were a golden era for country stars. Legends like Garth Brooks and Shania Twain pumped out megahits throughout the period. (These are the 50 greatest country music stars of all time.)
Taylor Swift also scored several hits with her modern fusion of country and pop. While the sounds of the ‘90s and ‘00s have transformed country music, it is very much a living and growing genre. (These are the best movies for country music fans.)
It is impossible for a country album to post huge sales if it does not top the sales charts for several weeks – or in a few cases, for many months. Garth Brooks’s “Double Live” album, which sold 21 million copies, spent 56 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart, five of them in the top position. Garth Brooks also dominates the list of best-selling albums, placing a dozen in the top 60.
Click here to see the best selling country albums of all time
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