Top 20 Best-Selling Country Artists of All Time: No. 1 Garth Brooks

by Jim Casey

And then there was one. The sultan of sales. The king of cash. The colossus of clout. The great Garth Brooks.

Garth Brooks has sold more records (157 million units) than any solo artist in the history of music, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Only the Beatles (183 million units) have moved more music than Garth. And chew on this: Garth has sold 88 million units more than George Strait, who currently resides at No. 2 on our list.

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

No. 1 – Garth Brooks

  • 157 Million Units Sold
  • 9 Diamond Albums
  • 31 Multi-Platinum Albums
  • 14 Platinum Albums
  • 1 Gold Single

Diamond King

In addition to Garth Brooks, only five country artists claim a Diamond-certified album(s): Shania Twain (3), The Chicks (2), Kenny Rogers, Patsy Cline, and Taylor Swift. Garth has nine Diamond-certified albums: Garth Brooks, No Fences, Ropin’ the Wind, The Chase, The Hits, Sevens, Double Live, The Ultimate Hits and In Pieces.

In fact, Garth’s best-selling album, 1998’s Double Live, has been certified 2X Diamond for sales of 21 million units. The double-disc offering is the best-selling live album in any genre.

Garth’s best-selling studio album is 1990’s No Fences, which has been certified 18X Platinum for sales of 18 million units. The album features four No. 1 singles, including “Friends in Low Places,” “Unanswered Prayers,” “Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House,” and “The Thunder Rolls.”

Garth Goes Gold

Considering Garth’s monumental sales figures, it’s staggering that he has only one Gold single (and no Platinum singles) to his name.

What is Garth Brooks’ best-selling single? If you guessed “Friends in Low Places,” “The Dance,” or “The River,” you’re way off. In fact, Garth’s best-selling single is “Lost in You.” The tune was featured on his 1999 album, The Life of Chris Gaines. “Lost in You” peaked at No. 5 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart, marking Garth’s best tally on the chart.

Over his career, Garth has always emphasized the “album” over the “single,” hence the discrepancy in album sales versus single sales.

In Defense of Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks needs no defense. Sales king, marketing mastermind, performer extraordinaire.

Waylon Jennings is credited with spearheading the “Outlaw” movement of the 1970s to create music the way he intended (studio, musicians, producing, etc.). While Garth isn’t an “outlaw,” per se, he has done things his way, more so than any artist I can think of. Of course, some of Garth’s swings weren’t considered home runs (see Chris Gaines or GhostTunes), but those ventures were still “successful” by many metrics. But if you want to talk home runs, check out Garth Brooks’ seven CMA Entertainer of the Year Awards or his 2012 induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame (when he was only 50 years old).