Top 20 Best-Selling Country Artists of All Time: No. 14 Linda Ronstadt

by Jim Casey
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Linda Ronstadt diversified her portfolio. The multi-format darling dominated both the pop and country albums charts in the 1970s.

And we won’t hold her pop popularity against her. In fact, we’re celebrating her entire catalog. Got a problem with that? Talk to Linda’s Trio pals, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. They’ll vouch for Linda’s country chops.

But we’re focusing on Linda’s solo work in this installment of the Top 20 Best-Selling Country Artists of All Time. Linda is No. 14 on our list, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

For the last seven decades, the RIAA has been tracking domestic album sales in the U.S. with its shiny designations: Gold (500,000 units), Platinum (1 million units), Multi-Platinum (2 million units and more), and Diamond (10 million units).

No. 14: Linda Ronstadt

  • 30 Million Units Sold
  • 7 Multi-Platinum Albums
  • 6 Platinum Albums
  • 3 Gold Albums
  • 1 Platinum Single
  • 2 Gold Singles

Platinum Queen

Linda Ronstadt has seven solo Multi-Platinum albums to her credit. Leading the packs is Linda’s 1976 Greatest Hits album, which has been certified 7X Platinum for sales of 7 million units. Let that sink in for a second.

In addition, three of Linda’s studio albums—Cry Like a Rainstorm Howl Like the Wind, What’s New, and Simple Dreams—have been certified 3X Platinum for sales of 3 million units. Simple Dreams reached No. 1 on both the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and the all-genre Billboard 200 chart in 1977.

Add another three Multi-Platinum albums, six Platinum albums, and three Gold albums to Linda’s solo tally. She routinely scored Top 5 albums across multiple charts. Linda’s crossover appeal was seamless, which helps explain why her Greatest Hits album was so damn popular.

From ‘Blue’ to Happy

Linda’s best-selling single of all time is her signature hit, “Blue Bayou.” Released in 1977, “Blue Bayou” became a Top 5 hit on both the county and pop charts.

The tune netted Linda two Grammy Awards in 1977 for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance – Female. It also earned Linda a nomination at the CMA Awards for Single of the Year. The RIAA certified “Blue Bayou” Platinum in 1990 for sales of 1 million units.

In addition, Linda scored two Gold singles during her career: “Don’t Know Much” with Aaron Neville and “Somewhere Out There” with James Ingram.

In Defense of Linda Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt has been a musical forces across multiple genres for more than 50 years.

How’s this for well-rounded? In addition to her Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016, Linda has scored Grammy wins for country, pop, film, Latin, Mexican-American, and children’s music.

Linda’s collaborative album, Trio, with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1987. In addition, the Platinum-certified Trio won the ACM Award for Album of the Year in 1987 and the CMA Award for Vocal Event of the Year in 1988.

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