Brow Beat

The Eagles Outsell Michael Jackson to Score the No. 1 Album of All Time

The Eagles perform on a stage bathed in blue light.
Timothy B. Schmit, Don Henley, and Steuart Smith of the Eagles.
Rick Diamond/Getty Images

The King of Pop has been dethroned: Michael Jackson’s Thriller is no longer the best-selling album of all time. The Recording Industry Association of America announced Monday that in its latest assessment, the Eagles have sold the equivalent of 38 million copies of Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, which was released in 1976. (In the digital era, RIAA has tweaked its methodology so that 1,500 streams of an album or 10 song downloads are counted as one album sale.) That’s more than the previous record-holder, Thriller, the sales of which were recalculated last year at 33 million.

Don Henley of the Eagles said in a statement: “We are grateful for our families, our management, our crew, the people at radio, and, most of all, the loyal fans who have stuck with us through the ups and downs of 46 years. It’s been quite a ride.” After Thriller, the Eagles’ 1977 album, Hotel California, is the third best-selling album of all time.

On the surface, the Thriller vs. Their Greatest Hits showdown hardly seems like a fair fight, given that one is a compilation album that is literally supposed to be the best that a band has to offer. Then again, Thriller has “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” “P.Y.T.,” and the title track, which frankly puts it halfway to a greatest hits album, anyway.

Slate is an Amazon affiliate and may receive a commission from purchases you make through our links.