The Best-Selling Albums Of The 1960s And ’70s

Although there are hundreds of albums released each year, covering a multitude of genres, there can be only one that holds the title of the best-selling album of that year. While this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best one, it clearly was good enough for millions of people to want to purchase it around the world.

Furthermore, the decades of the 1960s and 70s were iconic in music history and produced some of the greatest and highest-selling albums of all time. Take a look to see what they are and if you know them.

1960 – The Sound Of Music (Original Broadway Cast)

The Sound of Music
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

The Sound of Music is a musical with music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, based on the 1949 memoir of Maria von Trapp titled The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. The original Broadway production, starring Mary Martin and Theodore Bikel, opened in 1959, winning five Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

In 1960, the album managed to make it on to Billboards best-selling albums chart for 16 weeks and eventually became one of the most successful-selling albums, selling more than 20 million copies.

1961 – Camelot (Original Broadway Cast)

Man as King Arthur
Archive Photos/Getty Images
Archive Photos/Getty Images

Camelot is an Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe musical based on the European legend of King Arthur and adapted from T.H. White’s 1958 novel The Once and Future King.

Camelot opened on Broadway at the Majestic Theater on December 3, 1960, and eventually closed three years later on January 5. The production received four Tony Awards and the original cast album was the United States’ top-selling mono LP for a whole two weeks.

1962/1963 – West Side Story (Soundtrack)

People dancing
John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

West Side Story is the soundtrack to the 1961 film of the same name. Released in 1961, the film went on to spend 54 weeks at No.1 on the Billboard albums charts, making it the No.1 of any album to do so in history.

In 1962, the soundtrack won a Grammy for Best Sound Track Album – Original Cast and went on the become one of the best-selling albums of the 1960s, certified three times platinum by the RIAA, meaning it sold millions of copies.

1964- Hollo, Dolly! (Original Broadway Cast)

People in the play
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

Hello, Dolly! is a 1964 musical with lyrics by Jerry Herman and book by Michael Steward based on Thornton Wilder’s 1938 comedy The Merchant of Yonkers/The Matchmaker. In 1964, the musical won ten Tony Awards, a record that the play held for 37 years.

The RCA Victor cast recording of the original Broadway production was released in 1964 and was the No.1 album on the Billboard pop albums chart for seven weeks and the top album of the year on the Year-End chart.

1965 – Mary Poppins (Original Soundtrack)

Mar Poppins actors
FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images
FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

Mary Poppins: The Original Cast Soundtrack is the soundtrack to the 1964 album Marry Poppins with music and lyrics written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. The original 1964 album is comprised of seventeen tracks with sixteen lyrical numbers and the overture tracks to the film.

The film’s music went on to win two Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song, along with two Grammys for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture and Best Recording for Children.

1966 – Whipped Cream And Other Delights

Picture of the band
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

Whipped Cream & Other Delights is a 1965 album by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass and released on A&M Records. Although it is the group’s fourth released album, it is arguably their most successful.

In this album, the band strayed away from their Mexican-themed tracks and did instrumental arrangements of popular songs. Upon its release, Whipped Cream & Other Delights sold over 6 million copies in the United States, with the album cover becoming a cultural icon.

1967- More Of The Monkees

Picture of the Monkees
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

More of the Monkees is the second studio album by the pop-rock band the Monkees, which was recorded in 1966 and released on Colgems label #102 on January 9, 1967. It beat their own debut album from the top of the Billboard 200 chart, where it remained NNo.1 for 18 weeks, the longest of any of their other albums.

More of the Monkees was also No.1 in the UK and has been certified quintuple platinum, with sales exceeding more than 5 million copies. It was also the first pop/rock album to be the best-selling album of the year.

1968 – Are You Experienced

Picture of Jimi Hendrix
J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images
J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images

Are You Experienced is the debut studio album by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. The album was released in 1967, and despite mixed reviews, grew to become one of the most hailed debuts in the history of rock and roll music.

In the United Kingdom, the albums spent 33 weeks on the charts, peaking at No.2, and in the United States, it reached No.5 on the Billboard Top LPs chart, remaining on the chart for 106 weeks, with 27 of them being in the Top 40. It also went on to reach No.5 on the Billboard 200, selling more than one million copies in the first seven months.

1969 – In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

Picture of the band
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

The second studio album of the American rock band Iron Butterfly, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida was released in 1968 and is known for the title track that takes up the entire B-side of the album. The album peaked at No.4 on the Billboard albums chart, selling more than eight million copies within its first year of release, outselling every record in history up to that point.

Eventually, it reached worldwide sales of more than 30 million. It was the highest-selling album of 1969 by far and was the first officially certified Platinum and 4x Multi-Platinum album in the United States.

1970 – Bridge Over Troubled Water

Picture of Simon and Garfunkel
GAB Archive/Redferns
GAB Archive/Redferns

The fifth and final studio album by the folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water is a 1970 album released on Columbia Records. The album is notable for incorporating a variety of genres, including rock, R&B, pop, gospel, jazz, and more.

The record includes two of the duo’s greatest hits, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “The Boxer,” which have been listed on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The album went on to the top of the charts in over ten countries, received two Grammy Awards, and sold more than 25 million records.

1971 – Jesus Christ Superstar (Soundtrack)

Picture of the performance
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

Jesus Christ Superstar is a 1970 album musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, which the 1971 rock opera musical of the same name is based on. The album is a musical version following the last week of Jesus Christ, beginning with his entry into Jerusalem and ending with his Crucifixion.

Initially, the album was banned by the BBC because it was supposedly “sacrilegious,” yet managed to sell over 7 million copies worldwide by 1983. In 1971, the album topped the US Billboard Top LPs chart in both February and May and was ranked No.1 in the year-end chart.

1972 – Harvest

Young with a guitar
Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The fourth studio released album by Neil Young, Harvest was released in February 1972 on Reprise Records and made quite the splash. The album featured a number of reputable artists such as the London Symphony Orchestra and guests such as David Crosby, Linda Ronstadt, Stephen Stills, and more.

In addition to topping the Billboard 200 album chart, the album also produced two hit singles, “Old Man”, and “Heart of Gold.” The album became the best-selling of 1972 in the United States.

1973 – The World Is A Ghetto

Picture on the band War
Pinterest/David Fisher
Pinterest/David Fisher

The World Is a Ghetto is the fifth studio album by the band War and was released in late 1972 under United Artists Records. The record proved to be successful, reaching the No.1 spot on Billboard and was the magazine’s Album of the Year as the best-selling album of 1973.

The album sold more than 3 million records in 1973 and was later ranked number 444 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

1974 – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Picture of Elton John
Anwar Hussein/WireImage
Anwar Hussein/WireImage

The seventh studio album by singer-songwriter Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, was first released as a double LP in 1973. The album contains some of Elton John’s best-known hits such as “Bennie and the Jets,” “Candle in the Wind,” “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” among others.

The album has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, and in 2003, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It was also ranked 91 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 greatest albums of all time.

1975 – Elton John’s Greatest Hits

Elton John on stage
Michael Putland/Getty Images
Michael Putland/Getty Images

Elton Jon’s Greatest Hits was the eleventh studio album by Elton John and his first compilation. The album spans the years 1970 to 1974 and was a mix of ten of Elton John’s singles.

It topped the album charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom and remained at No.1 in the US for eleven weeks and in the UK for ten. It was the best-selling album of 1975 and is John’s best-selling album and one of the best-selling albums of all time, selling more than 24 million copies worldwide.

1976 – Frampton Comes Alive!

Peter Frampton
Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images
Fin Costello/Redferns/Getty Images

Framptom Comes Alive! is a double live album by the rock musician Peter Frampton. The singles “Show Me the Way,” “Baby, I Love Your Way,” and “Do You Feel Like We Do” all reached he Top 15 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Released in 1976, the album debuted on the charts at 191, yet reached number one on the Billboard 200, where it remained for ten weeks. It was the best-selling album in 1976, selling over 8 million copies in the US, and is one of the best-selling live albums of all time.

1977- Rumors

Picture of Fleetwood Max
Richard Creamer/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Richard Creamer/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The eleventh studio album by rock band Fleetwood Mac, Rumors was released on February 4, 1977 by Warner Bros. Records. Although the band wrote and recorded the album during a time of internal strife, it is regarded as one of their best works, producing hits such as “Dreams,” “Go Your Own Way,” “Don’t Stop,” and more.

Rumors became the band’s first No.1 album on the UK Albums Charted and topped the US Billboard 200. It sold over 10 million copies within the first month and has currently sold an estimated 45 million copies worldwide.

1978 – Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Soundtrack

Picture of John Travolta
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Saturday Night Fever is the soundtrack album from the 1977 film of the same name starring John Travolta. Incredibly, it is one of the best-selling albums of all time and is the second-biggest selling soundtrack to date.

The album has sold more than 45 million copies worldwide, and in the United States, the album was No.1 for 24 weeks straight and stayed on Billboard’s albums charts for 120 weeks, as well as was No.1 in the UK for 18 weeks.

1979 – 52nd Street

Picture of Billy Joel
Robin Platzer/Images/Getty Images
Robin Platzer/Images/Getty Images

52nd Street is the sixth studio album by Billy Joel. It was released on October 11, 1978. It was the first of Joel’s albums to top the Billboard charts, earning two Grammys, including Album of the Year, with the song “My Life,” “Big Shot,” and “Honesty,” which reached the Top 40 in the United States.

Besides introducing a new and fresh sound on Joel’s part, the album is also regarded for being one of the first commercially released on the compact disc format.

1980 – The Wall

Pink Floyd On Stage
Pete Still/Redferns
Pete Still/Redferns

The Wall is the eleventh studio album from the English rock band Pink Floyd and was released on November 30, 1979. The album topped the US charts for 15 weeks and reached No.3 in the UK.

The Wall is considered to be one of the most successful concept albums ever, selling more than 24 million copies, also making it one of the best-selling albums in history. Despite the album’s success, it initially received mixed reviews from critics, with some claiming it was pretentious, although today it is considered one of the greatest albums of all time.