Top 20 Best-Selling Country Artists of All Time: No. 4 Kenny Rogers

by Jim Casey

Kenny Rogers took a few “gambles” in his Hall of Fame career. And they paid off. Kenny crossed over from the pop charts as the frontman of The First Edition in the 1970s to become a country music powerhouse for the next several decades. The Grammy-winning artist scored a string of No. 1 albums and No. 1 hits, both solo compositions and noteworthy duets with some of country music’s finest, including Dolly Parton.

Kenny Rogers is No. 4 on our list of the Top 20 Best-Selling Country Artists of All Time, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). In fact, Kenny is one of the select few who can claim a Diamond-certified album.

The RIAA tracks album sales in the U.S. with its bedazzling certifications: Gold (500,000 units), Platinum (1 million units), Multi-Platinum (2 million units and more), and Diamond (10 million units).

No. 4 Kenny Rogers

  • 47.5 Million Units Sold
  • 1 Diamond Album
  • 7 Multi-Platinum Albums
  • 10 Platinum Albums
  • 11 Gold Albums
  • 1 Platinum Single
  • 5 Gold Singles

The Great One

Along with Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, The Chicks, Taylor Swift, and Patsy Cline, Kenny Rogers has a Diamond-certified album on his resume. Kenny’s Greatest Hits album has moved 12 million units since its release in 1980. The 12-song album features plenty of vintage Kenny, including “The Gambler,” “Lucille,” “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town,” “You Decorated My Life,” and more.

In addition, Kenny can claim seven Multi-Platinum albums. His best-selling studio album, 1978’s The Gambler, has been certified 5X Platinum for sales of 5 million units.

No Man Is an Island

Kenny’s best-selling single is his 1983 duet with Dolly Parton, “Islands in the Stream.” Penned by the Bee Gees’ Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb, “Islands in the Stream” has been certified Platinum for sales of 1 million units. Not only did the tune reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, but also it ascended to the top of the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart.

In addition, Kenny copped Gold singles with “Lady,” “Coward of the County,” “She Believes in Me,” and “Lucille.” Each tune has been certified for sales of 500,000 units.

In Defense of Kenny Rogers

Kenny, 81, passed away in March 2020. Over the course of his storied career, he earned more than 20 No. 1 singles, three Grammy Awards, eight ACM Awards, and six CMA Awards. Deservedly so, Kenny was finally elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013.

Of course, Kenny became part of pop culture lexicon for a new generation during a 1996 episode of Seinfeld that centered around his Kenny Rogers Roasters chicken restaurants.