Many in the movie audience could relate, as they may well have already owned multiple copies of The Beatles’ White Album, on vinyl, cassette, and CD. And that should come as no surprise to anyone, as the Beatles have sold more music than any other act in history: an estimated worldwide tally of somewhere beyond 1.6 billion units of records, tapes and CDs about one for every five current global inhabitants.
However, over the past 50 years, the Beatles haven’t dominated just our music world. Individually and collectively, the Fab Four have become Monsters of Media, through their many varied adventures into stage performance, film, television, art, books, magazines, memorabilia, and digital media.
But let’s start with just a few testaments to the popularity of their music. The Beatles burst out of the gate in April 1964, with the rapid (and rabid) surge of Beatlemania placing 12 of their newly released singles on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. At the same time, their songs had also locked up all of the top 5 positions on that chart. Before the year was out, the group would sell over 25 million records in the U.S. and over 90 million globally.
Through 1964 and 1965 alone, The Beatles turned out 11 No. 1 singles and 7 No. 1 albums on the American music charts. (They would end up with 20 U.S. No. 1 singles and 19 U.S. No. 1 albums overall.) They are the only musical group in history to have No. 1 singles or albums in six successive decades.
The single most-recorded (and almost certainly most-played) popular song in music history is “Yesterday”, released on the 1965 Beatles’ Help!album. The tune, which has been covered by an estimated 2,000 or more artists worldwide, has been broadcast more than 10 million times since its release, and is heard around the globe numerous times each day.
Music critics continue to debate whether the single most influential album of all time is Revolveror Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and musical artists of every genre often cite one or both as a prime source of inspiration.
Upon its release in 1969, Abbey Roadbegan selling at a pace of almost a half-million albums per day. Even after the group’s break-up in 1970, sales of its music continued, boosted by the releases of 1967-1970, Anthology 1, 2 and3, and the collection of theitrno.1 hits, 1.
In the late months of 2009, after the long-awaited release of their remastered canon of albums/CDs, The Beatles sales figures surged once again by more than 2 million additional units over the short term.