riaa certifies elvis for 18 new gold and platinum awards

Es­ti­mated reading time is 6 minutes.

WELL BLESS-A MY SOUL! The folks at Sony/RCA are acting wild as a bug and may, in fact, be all shook up. Why? Be­cause the RIAA just pre­sented them with more Gold and Plat­inum Record Awards for Elvis and the two or­ga­ni­za­tions are sending mixed sig­nals on the In­ternet. Ba­si­cally, one of them ap­pears to be using in­cor­rect dates.

But first, back to the awards: over the past year, Sony/RCA re­quested the RIAA to audit sev­eral Presley ti­tles. On March 8, 2018, sev­en­teen ti­tles were cer­ti­fied for eigh­teen Gold and Plat­inum Record Awards.

While this in­creases Pres­ley’s total for the most al­bums cer­ti­fied by the RIAA (see below), he re­mains in third place on their totem pole. But the RIAA has only au­dited a small por­tion of the Presley cat­alog: the sales of ap­prox­i­mately three-fourths of his al­bums are un­ac­counted for!

In terms of RIAA sales of album units—which are a very, very dif­ferent thing than ac­tual total sales for some artists—here are their five biggest sellers:

Bea­tles:              178,000,000
Garth Brooks:  148,000,000
Elvis Presley:    139,000,000 1
Led Zep­pelin:     111,500,000
Ea­gles:                101,000,000


Elvis Hitstory fc

HIT­STORY (2005) repack­ages two ear­lier ti­tles, 30 #1 HITS and 2ND TO NONE, along with a third disc of yet more hit sin­gles. While all of these tracks are avail­able on a va­riety of pre­vi­ously re­leased 45s, EPs, LPs, and CDs, this re­mains the de­fin­i­tive col­lec­tion of Elvis hits. It was cer­ti­fied Plat­inum last week.

Elvis’s ongoing impact

Here is the of­fi­cial news re­lease from Sony Music/Legacy dated March 8, 2018:

“Legacy Record­ings, the cat­alog di­vi­sion of Sony Music En­ter­tain­ment, and RCA Records ac­knowl­edge the as­tounding on­going im­pact of the music and artistry of Elvis Presley, whose all time RIAA cer­ti­fied album awards in the US now top 146.5 mil­lion units.

As Pres­ley’s cat­alog achieves new Gold, Plat­inum and multi-Platinum sales awards as cer­ti­fied by the Recording In­dustry As­so­ci­a­tion of America (RIAA), Elvis con­tinues to in­spire, in­form and trans­form pop­ular culture.


For more in­for­ma­tion on RIAA Gold and Plat­inum Record Awards, click here.


Elvis—the second most awarded solo per­former and third most awarded act in RIAA his­tory (after the Bea­tles at #1 and Garth Brooks at #2)—has racked up more Gold Records (101) than any other act and is the only artist still earning RIAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tions whose con­nec­tion to the as­so­ci­a­tion dates back to its founding.

In 1958, the in­au­gural year of the RIAA Gold & Plat­inum pro­gram, Elvis’ Hard Headed Woman be­came one of the RI­AA’s first three Gold sin­gles and the very first in Elvis’ on­going string of Gold, Plat­inum and multi-Platinum certifications.

Over the past year, 17 Elvis Presley cat­alog ti­tles have been awarded RIAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tions, with 11 of those al­bums reaching Gold (or Plat­inum) status for the very first time.”

If you read the Sony press re­lease or any ar­ticle using their info, you will read that the cer­ti­fi­ca­tions were made on three dates span­ning al­most six months:

•  Two were awarded on July 31, 2017.
•  Five were awarded on Sep­tember 13, 2017.
•  Eleven were awarded on Jan­uary 13, 2018.

Yet the RIAA web­site lists the date of cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for all eigh­teen Awards as March 8, 2018, the same day as Sony/RCA sent its news re­lease. And that’s why I sug­gest that the folks at Sony/RCA may be all shook up, as surely they would have no­ti­fied the media in July and Sep­tember of new Awards.

Maybe we shouldn’t ask them what’s on their minds as they seem a little mixed up. Un­like them, my tongue doesn’t get tied when I try to speak.

And I as­sure you that my in­sides ain’t shaking like a leaf on a tree. That’s why I am giving the nod to the folks at the RIAA and listing the March date below.


Elvis Rock CD fc

ROCK (2006) used this mono­chro­matic photo of Elvis from the Milton Berle Show in June 5, 1956, to equally fine ef­fect. (This was the show where Elvis did his bump-and-grind rou­tine to a souped-up Hound Dog, which may have been the gen­esis of the nick­name “Elvis the Pelvis.”) It was cer­ti­fied Gold last week

The new awards

When the RIAA au­dits a title, they count sales of LPs, tapes, and CDs. A ‘unit’ is one LP or one CD or one tape: sub­se­quently, a two-record album counts as two units, while a boxed set of five com­pact discs counts as five units. So multi-disc al­bums do not sell the ac­tual min­imum amount as al­bums, they meet the RI­AA’s min­imum amount in units. 2

The first column is the year of the al­bum’s re­lease, the second column is the al­bum’s title (no­ta­tions for multi-disc sets follow in paren­thesis), and the third column is the min­imum number of copies each album (not units) had to sell to qualify for the Award.


Elvis UltimateGospel fc

UL­TI­MATE GOSPEL (2005) used a 1969 photo of Elvis in a re­flec­tive mood to nice ef­fect. It was cer­ti­fied Plat­inum last week.

Gold Records

The fol­lowing al­bums re­ceived Gold Record Awards for sales of 500,000 units:

1990   The Great Per­for­mances                                                    500,000
1997   An Af­ter­noon In The Garden                                             500,000
1997   Elvis’ Greatest Jukebox Hits                                              500,000
1999   Artist Of The Cen­tury (3-disc set)                                      167,000
1999   He Touched Me (2-disc set)                                                250,000

1999   Peace In The Valley (3-disc set)                                          167,000
2000   White Christmas                                                                  500,000
2003   Christmas Peace (2-disc set)                                             250,000
2005   Hit­story (3-disc set)                                                             167,000
2006   Elvis Rock                                                                              500,000
2008   Christmas Duets                                                                  500,000


Elvis ThatsTheWay LP 600

THAT’S THE WAY IT IS (1970) sports one of my fa­vorite Elvis covers of all time, with this photo from Elvis on stage at the In­ter­na­tional Hotel in Las Vegas. It was taken from the MGM doc­u­men­tary movie of the same title in 1970. The album was cer­ti­fied Plat­inum last week.

Platinum Records

The fol­lowing al­bums re­ceived Plat­inum Record Awards for sales of 1,000,000 units:

1970   That’s The Way It Is                                                         1,000,000
1995   Heart And Soul                                                                  1,000,000
2004   Ul­ti­mate Gospel                                                            1,000,000
2005   Hit­story (3-disc set)                                                             334,000


Elvis AfternoonInTheGarden fc

AN AF­TER­NOON IN THE GARDEN (1997) fea­tures one of the most dra­matic and tasteful photos on any re­cent Elvis re­lease. It was cer­ti­fied Gold last week

Multi-Platinum Records

The fol­lowing al­bums re­ceived Multi-Platinum Record Awards for sales of 2,000,000 or more units:

1974   A Leg­endary Per­former Volume 1                              3,000,000
1999   It’s Christmas Time                                                      4,000,000
2002   30 #1 Hits                                                                          6,000,000


Elvis LegendaryPerformerVol1 fc

A LEG­ENDARY PER­FORMER, VOLUME 1 (1974) at the top had a tex­tured white jacket with a die-cut cir­cular window in the front cover. Through it was seen the cover photo of an in­for­ma­tive bonus book in­cluded in the album. It was cer­ti­fied 3xMulti-Platinum last week. 3

Some kind of perspective

Elvis now has 117 al­bums that have re­ceived a Gold Record from the RIAA. To put this in some kind of per­spec­tive, 117 is more than the com­bined number of Gold Records for al­bums that the Bea­tles, Garth Brooks, Led Zep­pelin, and the Ea­gles have combined!

Of those 117 Gold Records, 67 have re­ceived Plat­inum Records.

Of those 67 Plat­inum Records, 27 have re­ceived Multi-Platinum Records.

Of those 27 Multi-Platinum Records, one has re­ceived a Di­a­mond Record for sales of 10,000,000 units.

The RIAA has au­dited only a frac­tion of Elvis’ vast catalog—literally hun­dreds of his al­bums are un­counted! Share on X

Elvis Graceland WallOfGold2 copy

FEA­TURED IN IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page was taken at the Wall of Gold in Grace­land. I lifted it from the Ex­hi­bi­tion List web­site, where the cap­tion reads, “You can then go on to see what must be one of the largest col­lec­tions of gold and plat­inum records in the world . . . there was the cor­ridor pic­tured above and then a whole other room.”


Elvis 1957 goldsuit standup 1000POST­SCRIP­TU­ALLY, I will write an ar­ticle ex­plaining why the RIAA tally for Elvis’ ac­counts for the sales of less than 20% of his re­leased al­bums! It is lu­di­crously low and com­paring his sales to post-’70s artists is even more lu­di­crous. 4



1   Pres­ley’s album total (LPs, tapes, and CDs) was re­cently re­duced from 146,500,000 to 139,000,000 and is a topic of con­ver­sa­tion in the com­ments sec­tion below.

2   In 2013, the RIAA began counting paid streaming to­wards cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, but I don’t un­der­stand their cri­teria at this time.

3   There were three more vol­umes in the Leg­endary Per­former se­ries; each used the same pack­aging technique.

4   Hell’s Belles! By this time it may be less than 10%—there have been so many ti­tles re­leased in these here United States (I gave up counting years when it was some­where around 530) that I’m not sure that any source any­where has a com­plete list of all of them.


16 thoughts on “riaa certifies elvis for 18 new gold and platinum awards”

  1. I think it’s about time Garth Brooks was taken out of the pic­ture as the “top selling solo artist of all time” when we all know it’s Elvis. Sony should get their fig­ures sorted out with the RIAA. It’s de­meaning that the King has to take second place wrongly. He may have even out­sold the Bea­tles in re­ality, but even if not he is a solo artist and should be top of that list.

    • DAVID

      Thanks for the comments.

      I agree, but I don’t now if Sony even has all the pa­per­work needed to prove sales of Elvis records during Pres­ley’s life­time. So much of the paper trail of those sales have been lost by the care­less­ness of pre­vious RCA people. You’d never know that for a brief pe­riod in 1977, it was al­most im­pos­sible to buy an Elvis record in a le­git­i­mate re­tail outlet any­where in the world be­cause they were all SOLD OUT!

      The RIAA has ac­counted for the sales of ap­prox­i­mately 90&% of the Bea­tles al­bums is­sued in the US. Con­versely, they have ac­counted for less than 20% of the Elvis al­bums is­sued in America. But that too may never be rec­ti­fied. It’s up to us fans to carry the beacon of truth into the future . . .


  2. Thank you for that.It re­ally is sad if we are stuck with Garth Brooks at number 1 in the States but it looks like there is nothing to be done but just hope some de­tails emerge from a base­ment in Salt Lake City or some such ob­scure storage facility.

    • DG

      Those people who be­lieve that the RIAA ex­ists to keep track of an artist’s record sales will be­lieve what­ever they be­lieve. Think of your­self as be­longing to an élite group that knows better.


      PS: Apolo­gies for taking so long to re­spond but this one just slipped past me all this while . . .

  3. I have al­ways said Elvis record sales were way too low. And I know he has more than one Album to sell more than 10,000,000. They way they count records is a laugh. Like Bill­board comes up and changes the rules on his #1 records.

    There only one solo artist that is #1 and that Elvis. One one number #1 group as far as record sells and that the Bea­tles. These were the only two acts that change music History.

    Elvis being King of it all. He was the first to take R&R to a new level that had never been seen in His­tory. And is still un­matched today. I don’t re­ally com­pare Elvis and Bea­tles to­gether. Dif­ferent kinds of mu­sical sounds. But to me, in music Elvis is the Best.

    • RONNIE

      Thanks for the comment!

      There is no ques­tion that Elvis’s sales are under-accounted, but this is RCA’s fault, not the RI­AA’s. RCA has re­put­edly lost boxes of pa­per­work con­cerning Pres­ley’s do­mestic sales that will prob­ably never be found.

      The RIAA was never set up to be the tab­u­lator of an artists’s sales, simply to give them awards when the record com­pa­ny’s re­quested (and paid for) them.

      We will prob­ably never know how many records sold in the US let alone in the world, where many rep­re­sen­ta­tives of RCA in other coun­ties didn’t even keep per­ma­nent records of their sales.

      I don’t com­pare Elvis with the Bea­tles, either—I just love ’em both.

      Rock­ahula, baby!


  4. This is now nearly two years ago. I wonder if you have any up to date news about Elvis’s sales fig­ures. I keep hoping some­thing will crop up pa­per­work­wise to cover the hun­dreds of Elvis al­bums left un­counted. It would be lovely to see him go over Garth Brooks where he rightly belongs.

    • DG

      1. I do not have any new data.

      2. Most of the hundreds—and there are lit­er­ally hundreds!—of Presley LPs not counted thus far have prob­ably not sold the req­ui­site 500,000 units.

      3. Un­less RCA finds the pa­per­work, nothing is gonna change.

      4. RCA will never be able to doc­u­ment sales out­side the US for most of Elvis’s ca­reer as the com­pa­nies that man­u­fac­tured and dis­trib­uted their records did not keep per­ma­nent records of those sales.

      5. The RIAA was never meant to be the ar­biter of who sold the most of any­thing. It just cer­ti­fies sales that the record com­pa­nies can prove happened.

      Nick Keene’s “For the Bil­lionth and the Last Time” re­mains the best take on the topic thus far:

      Rock­ahula, baby!


  5. Elvis is the biggest selling artist of all time. Pe­riod. Forget the Bea­tles, Michael Jackson, etc.—no one comes close!

      • Hi, Neal!

        Thanks for the comment.

        I agree that the ar­ticle from Nick Keene’s “For the Bil­lionth and the Last Time” re­mains the best take on the topic thus far:

        I’ll leave the last word to Mr. Paul Mac­Cartney, who vis­ited Grace­land in 2013 and said “I thought we were the biggest sellers” but after seeing the Hall of Gold (over 150 gold and plat­inum discs now!), he said, “Amazing, simply Amazing.”

        Nothing more to be said...

        RIP, Elvis.

        • P

          I have per­mis­sion to quote Nick Ken’s ar­ticle at length. My plans are to con­dense his ar­gu­ments down to their essence and re­spond to them.

          But I can’t promise I will get around to it soon.

          Do the clam!


          PS: It’s dif­fi­cult to get most people to un­der­stand that the RI­AA’s num­bers have very lim­ited meaning and that the sales fig­ures for 80% of the Elvis al­bums out there are not in­cluded in their fig­ures. Oh, well . . .

  6. Wow, what an in­cred­ible achieve­ment for Elvis: eigh­teen new RIAA Gold and Plat­inum Awards! It’s mind-blowing how his music con­tinues to cap­ti­vate and in­spire gen­er­a­tions. This recog­ni­tion is truly a tes­ta­ment to Elvis’s un­matched talent and en­during legacy. Con­grat­u­la­tions to everyone in­volved in pre­serving his iconic sound and en­suring that his music lives on.

    Thank you for sharing this won­derful news.

  7. I still find it in­ter­esting that the mo­ment, years ago al­beit, the RIAA grand­fa­thered in past double al­bums de­f­i­n­i­tions as simply two lps they im­me­di­ately dou­bled The White Album in sales but as of yet haven’t dou­bled Aloha for Elvis. It would take the title to di­a­mond status. I’ve in­ves­ti­gated this some­what and Aloha had RIAA certs at over 5 mill years be­fore the new ac­cep­tance of double lp de­f­i­n­i­tions. Be­sides outing them­selves as lib­eral pro­pa­gan­dists, the RIAA has seem­ingly ig­nored Alo­ha’s now double lp status. Any word why this has been over­looked or have I not done my due diligence?


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