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We all know that Pink Floyd are popular, right? But it isn’t until we drill down into their chart positions that we can really get a grasp on exactly how popular.
In the UK every single studio album they have released since 1967’s The ‘Piper at the Gates of Dawn’ has been a top 10 record. 5 have been #1 records, but not, ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’, amazingly enough, which peaked at #2 despite having sold over 4.1 million copies in the UK alone.
Their first UK #1 was ‘Atom Heart Mother’ in 1970, which, let’s be honest, is hardly what anyone would now think of as a commercial album.
They’ve released three live albums, ‘Delicate Sound Of Thunder’ went to #11, 2000’s ‘Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980–81’ #15, but Pulse was a #1 album too.
Chartwise their most successful album is not Dark Side.. as we might think but The Division Bell which went to #1 in UK, USA, Canada and all across Europe, not one territory excluded. The Wall runs it close in being #1 across all territories except one: the UK. It only got to #3 here.
In terms of actual sales nothing touches Dark Side of course which is currently guesstimated - because no-one knows for sure - as having sold over 45 million copies and rising. Every generation discovers it and loves it. The next best seller is listed as The Wall at 30 million but that may be an inflated number because at least in the USA and possibly other countries, they count a double album as 2 sales, which is basically dishonest. So, its 23 million US sales were really 12.5 million copies.
‘Wish You Were Here’, on the other hand has shifted over 20 million and the sometimes overlooked ‘Animals’ has sold 12 million.
It is estimated that they have sold over 250 million records worldwide, including 75 million units sold in the United States.
Have they ever had a flop? No. Not in the UK. However in the USA they were slow to really start selling. Their first 7 releases up to 1972 all charted but in the lower reaches. Even the magnificent ‘Meddle’ only got to #70 and ‘Obscured By Clouds’ was the best performer getting to #46 in 1972.
But ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ changed everything. It has been on the Billboard charts for 957 weeks so far, and no-one would bet against it re-entering again in future. It is the longest running charting album of all time by a huge distance. In another weird quirk, it only held the number one spot in the USA for a single week, but it remained in the Billboard album chart for 736 consecutive weeks from 1973 to 1988, 15 years unbroken. Incredible.
All of which made the boys a lot of cash. Roger Waters net worth is estimated at $310 million and David Gilmour at $180, Nick Mason $150 million, though Rick Wright’s estate in 2008 on his death was a mere £24 million. How do you get by on only 24 million?
In 2013, Dark Side.. was selected for preservation in the United States National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
You can say that again.