elvis’ riaa gold record awards 1958-1975 (while he was alive)

Es­ti­mated reading time is 7 minutes.

ELVIS DIED WITH ONLY 28 “OF­FI­CIAL” GOLD RECORDS. That is, he col­lected only twenty-eight RIAA Gold Record Awards during his ca­reer from 1956 to 1977. Nei­ther he nor Colonel Parker nor RCA showed any en­thu­siasm for the awards while he was alive. But since his death, an­other 150 of his records have been newly certified!

Working with the vast per­sonal files of Colonel Parker, the RIAA cer­ti­fied and awarded 110 Gold and Plat­inum Record Awards to the Presley es­tate in 1992. Since then, more than 150 RIAA Awards have been added to the list. 1

Since Elvis died in 1977, an­other 150 of his records have been newly cer­ti­fied for RIAA Gold and Plat­inum Record Awards!

There are many rea­sons for RCA’s lack­adaisical at­ti­tude to­wards these awards, an at­ti­tude ap­par­ently shared by Elvis and his man­ager. And looking at the his­tory of the Awards, this per­spec­tive was also shared by most of the record in­dus­try’s movers and shakers.

When the RIAA launched its “of­fi­cial” Gold Record Awards pro­gram in Jan­uary 1958, it opened its doors to the Amer­ican record in­dustry. Any com­pany could submit records for in­de­pen­dent au­diting and re­ceive RIAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for a Gold Record Award. They of­fered the in­dustry ac­cess to awards that were stan­dard­ized and in­de­pen­dently au­then­ti­cated. 2

There is a follow-up to this ar­ticle ti­tled “About Those Elvis Gold And Plat­inum Record Awards,” which can be found here.


Elvis HeartbreakHotel 1956 GoldRecord long shot 800

On April 14, 1956, RCA Victor pre­sented Elvis with his first gold record for sales of 1,000,000 copies of “Heart­break Hotel.” The pre­sen­ta­tion was ca­sual and took place while he was recording his second million-seller, “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You.”

Gold record awards since the ’40s

In­di­vidual record com­pa­nies had been handing out gold records since the ’40s, so there wasn’t a big rush to get records to the RIAA for their blessing. In fact, the in­dustry es­sen­tially ig­nored the RIAA Awards for years. They picked up a little steam in the late ’60s; al­bums ap­peared with RIAA Gold Record stickers af­fixed to their covers. But the Awards didn’t re­ally catch on until the ’70s. 3

At that point, record com­pa­nies re­al­ized that the awards could be used pro­mo­tion­ally: a Gold Record was proof that “mil­lions” of people had al­ready bought an album, so why shouldn’t you buy it? 

But for the first ten years, most com­pa­nies just didn’t see the awards as a big deal and didn’t ac­tively par­tic­i­pate. For ex­ample, in early 1958 RCA Victor could have im­me­di­ately re­quested cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for Gold Record Awards for the fol­lowing Elvis titles:

Heart­break Hotel / I Was The One
I Want You, I Need You, I Love You / My Baby Left me
Hound Dog / Don’t Be Cruel
Love Me Tender / Any Way You Want Me
Too Much / Playing For Keeps
All Shook Up / That’s When Your Heartaches Begin
Teddy Bear / Loving You
Jail­house Rock / Treat Me Nice

RCA Victor could have also sub­mitted the extended-play album ELVIS, VOLUME 2, the only EP to sell more than a mil­lion copies in the US! Elvis’ JAIL­HOUSE ROCK would follow suit later in ’58. Sev­eral LPs prob­ably qualified.

They could have.

But they didn’t.

And we will prob­ably never know why. 


ElvisGold 1961 Surrender 1200

On Feb­ruary 25, 1961, Elvis was given a spe­cial golden record by RCA Victor for his latest hit, Sur­render, to com­mem­o­rate the fact that he had sold 76,000,000 singles—or 15,000,000 per year since 1956!

Qualifying a 45 for a Gold Record

A 45 rpm single had to sell 1,000,000 (one mil­lion) copies within the United States.

That’s it.


Elvis ChristmasAlbum RIAAGoldRecord 1963 800

This RIAA Award is for LPM-1951, the reissue of ELVIS’ CHRISTMAS ALBUM from 1959. It’s pos­sible that the sales of the orig­inal 1957 album (LOC-1035) were not counted to­wards this Award. When RCA is­sued this album in fake stereo (LSP-1951e) in 1964, it sup­pos­edly sold an­other 300,000 copies in a few weeks!

Qualifying an LP for a Gold Record

A 33⅓ rpm LP album had to sell $1,000,000 (one mil­lion dol­lars) at the man­u­fac­tur­er’s whole­sale price. The number of copies that an LP sold was ir­rel­e­vant to the Award but was slightly more than 700,000 copies for a normal LP.

As the price of records rose, the number of records re­quired to reach the million-dollar gold stan­dard de­clined. In 1974, new stan­dards for an album were es­tab­lished and an album had to meet two criteria:

•  An album must sell at least $1,000,000 at the whole­sale level.
•  A
n album must sell at least 500,000 units.

By this time a “unit” con­sisted of ei­ther an LP or tape. While reel-to-reels and 8-tracks were still man­u­fac­tured, they sold little and had a mi­nus­cule im­pact on sales tal­lies. But the cas­sette tape was catching on fast with music lovers across the country.


Elvis ElvisPresley LPM 1254 RIAAGoldRecord orange 1000

LPM-1254 sold an as­tounding 362,000 copies within weeks of its re­lease and sup­pos­edly passed the half-million mark shortly after. Yet it took RCA Victor ten years to have it cer­ti­fied by the RIAA for a Gold Record Award! The award above con­tains an LP with an or­ange label, which wasn’t used by RCA until late 1968. This shows that a record com­pany could have new awards made for them any time after the RIAA had cer­ti­fied the title.

Elvis’ RIAA Gold Records 1958-1975

Here are the records cer­ti­fied Gold by the RIAA prior to Elvis’ death in 1977. As noted, there were only twenty-eight, and this teeny-weeny figure had tongues a-wagging for years after Pres­ley’s passing about how RCA must have lied about his sales through the years to ac­count for so low a tally. This would be put to rest in 1992 with the afore­men­tioned cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of 110 Gold and Plat­inum Record Awards.

The ti­tles below are listed chrono­log­i­cally as they re­ceived their cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Within each year, ti­tles are listed chrono­log­i­cally based on their orig­inal re­lease date. Album ti­tles are in bold print.



47-7280                  Hard Headed Woman / Don’t Ask Me Why



LPM/LSP-1382    Elvis



LPM/LSP-1707     Elvis’ Golden Records

LPM/LSP-2426    Blue Hawaii



47-7968                  Can’t Help Falling In Love / Rock-A-Hula Baby



LPM/LSP-1951      Elvis’ Christmas Album

LPM/LSP-2256     G.I. Blues

LPM/LSP-2621     Girls! Girls! Girls!



LPM/LSP-1254     Elvis Presley

LPM/LSP-2075     Elvis’ Gold Records, Volume 2

LPM/LSP-2765     Elvis’ Golden Records, Volume 3



LPM/LSP-1515      Loving You

LPM/LSP-3758    How Great Thou Art



LPM/LSP-2328    His Hand In Mine

LPM-4088             Elvis (NBC-TV Special)

47-9741                   In The Ghetto / Any Day Now

47-9764                  Sus­pi­cious Minds / You’ll Think Of Me

LSP-6020              From Mem­phis To Vegas/From Vegas To Memphis



LSP-4155               From Elvis In Memphis

47-9768                 Don’t Cry, Daddy / Rubberneckin’

47-9835                 The Wonder Of You / Mama Liked The Roses



LSP-4362               On Stage – Feb­ruary 1970



74-0769                 Burning Love / It’s A Matter Of Time

LSP-4776               Elvis As Recorded At Madison Square Garden



LPM-6401             World­wide 50 Gold Award Hits, Volume 1

LSP-4555              That’s The Way It Is

VPSX-6089           Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite



CPL1-0341            A Leg­endary Per­former, Volume 1


Ex­actly why RCA Victor, Colonel Parker, and Presley balked at building an im­pres­sive cat­alog of RIAA Awards through the years will prob­ably never be known. Due to the au­diting and cer­ti­fi­ca­tions of 1992, we know that had RCA been dili­gent about the Awards (and about main­taining proper records about their records), Elvis might have left this mortal coil with 50-60 of­fi­cial Gold Records on his walls.

Since Elvis died in 1977, an­other 150 of his records have been newly cer­ti­fied for RIAA Gold and Plat­inum Record Awards! Click To Tweet

ElvisGold 1972 Sholes 1500 trim

FEA­TURED IMAGE: Here is Elvis with RCA ex­ec­u­tive George Parkhill showing off the RIAA Gold Record Award for the 1972 album ELVIS AS RECORDED AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN. Presley looks trim and fit, if over-tanned. Of course, there are those eyes . . .


ATOG Postscript Image

POST­SCRIP­TU­ALLY, I have to stress that the RIAA Awards did not carry a lot of weight in the in­dustry until the mid-’70s, by which time Elvis wasn’t racking up the sales fig­ures that he had pre­vi­ously. It’s pos­sible that Elvis was prouder of get­ting a gold record from Ar­gentina or South Africa, where people didn’t have the money to buy large quan­ti­ties of records than he did from get­ting a re­dun­dant RIAA Award for a title that he al­ready had an RCA award hanging on his wall. We’ll never know.





1   The sto­ries of RCA’s “mis­placing” thou­sands of pieces of paper doc­u­menting Pres­ley’s sales through the year have been around since Elvis was alive! Ap­par­ently, most of the pa­per­work from the years fol­lowing his death (1977-1979) are missing—years in which hun­dreds of mil­lions of Elvis records were selling around the world! 4

2   Record com­pa­nies could join the RIAA and pay mem­ber­ship dues and sep­a­rate fees for the au­diting and the ac­tual phys­ical Awards. Non-member record com­pa­nies also had ac­cess to the Awards, but with sig­nif­i­cantly higher au­diting fees.

3   These awards pre­sented by a record com­pany to one of its artists are now called in-house awards and for many records, these are all we have to go on.

4   RCA also “mis­filed” all of the master tapes to Pres­ley’s record­ings of the 1950s. But that’s an­other story . . .



22 thoughts on “elvis’ riaa gold record awards 1958-1975 (while he was alive)”

  1. That’s a lot of hard info I’ve never seen put to­gether in one place and much ap­pre­ci­ated. I al­ways as­sumed RCA was just under-reporting for tax pur­poses, hiding profit like the movie com­pa­nies (sup­pos­edly) did. My guess on Elvis’s in­dif­fer­ence is that once he had a few for the walls at home it just wasn’t that big a deal, but as you say, we’ll prob­ably never know.

    • NDJ

      Hey, I just added a new plugin for my Com­ments sec­tion and it dug up sev­eral old com­ments such as yours that had been “lost” in my Word­Press files!

      Glad you en­joyed: the as­sump­tion of under-reporting is just and may still be in effect.

      AIn the days after Pres­ley’s death, I was glued to the radio. Soooo many in­ter­esting in­ter­views that would never ever ever have hap­pened ex­cept for the un­ex­pected demise of a deity.

      One RCA exec talked about how the com­pany con­tin­u­ally under-appreciated (my term for “took him for granted”) Elvis: he said that in the 18 months prior to Elvis’s death, he had sold 150,000,000 units world­wide but that RCA’s ac­counting system was old-fashioned they weren’t aware that he was still their biggest seller!!!

      Sup­pos­edly, all RCA’s data on Elvis sales for sev­eral years be­fore and after his death have been “mis­placed” and may never be tal­lied by the RIAA ...


    • Just as prob­able that the Colonel and Elvis didn’t want proof of, or ques­tions about, his in­come. This makes clear there had been other ‘award gold record’ pro­grams so this just wasn’t viewed as a ‘big deal’ by many. 

      I think this em­phasis on awards, etc., has not had a pos­i­tive im­pact on the music in­dustry. We’re sacrificing/losing cre­ativity and orig­i­nality as in­dustry execs focus on things like this. And as we’ve learned with book sales/awards, too often the au­thor, family, pub­lisher are the ones buying to en­sure an award.

      • DA

        Thanks for the comments.

        Re­garding Parker and Presley: Good point but I think it’s more likely that RCA would hide sales from them than them hiding those fig­ures from the IRS, which is a fed­eral of­fense. But any­thing is possible.

        Re­garding in­dustry awards: While I have al­ways con­sid­ered the Grammys a joke, the RIAA Gold and Plat­inum Record Awards are the only stan­dard of sales in the US that can be trusted. Whether we like it or not, fans will prob­ably al­ways wanna be able to say, “My guy’s got more Gold Records than your guy.”

        Rock­ahula, baby!


  2. Hi Neal,

    There are a few things wrong with this ar­ticle from a fac­tual stand­point. First of all, the photo of Elvis re­ceiving the in-house gold record for “Heart­break Hotel” at the Nashville recording ses­sion for “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You” was done on April 14, 1956, not April 11, 1956. Elvis was later pho­tographed with this gold record back home in Mem­phis at the Audubon Drive home with his par­ents and local DJ Dewey Phillips. Later that month, Elvis was pho­tographed again in Las Vegas with Colonel Parker and an as­sort­ment of in­di­vid­uals on stage. This photo was used for the cover of Cashbox mag­a­zine at some point in late May, 1956.

    Also the photo of Elvis with a heavy set gen­tleman from Au­gust 1, 1972 is wrong. The guy in the photo be­side Elvis is not Steve Sholes. The guy in the photo is George Parkhill, who worked for RCA. Steve Sholes had died in 1968, four years prior to the photo being taken.

    As to your ques­tion re­garding why more RIAA awards weren’t is­sued during Elvis’ life­time. The an­swer is pretty easy. RCA was al­ready is­suing in-house gold records in most cases, so there re­ally wasn’t any need to pursue the RIAA awards, al­though, at times it would seem that they were pur­sued. I should also point out that al­though you don’t show pho­to­graphic ev­i­dence of it, Elvis did re­ceive some RIAA gold records from Steve Sholes in late 1963 while Elvis was filming “Kissin’ Cousins.” These gold records would have been for the Christmas album and the sound­track to “Girls!, Girls!, Girls!” I am aware of at least two photos taken. There are sev­eral more photos taken of the Houston event from March, 1970 when Elvis re­ceived his gold records for the three sin­gles and the two al­bums. There is also a photo of Elvis’ pro­ducer Felton Jarvis, Chet Atkins and RCA ex­ec­u­tive Harry Jenkins holding gold records. Felton is holding a gold record for the “How Great Thou Art” LP, while Felton is holding one for “In The Ghetto” and Harry Jenkins is holding one for “Sus­pi­cious Minds.” I would imagine this photo also dates from some­time around 1970.

    • DARYL

      Thanks for the corrections!

      The April 11 error was a typo but I have no idea why I said Sholes in­stead of Parkhill!

      As for RCA’s spo­radic in­terest in RIAA Awards: who knows? The awards didn’t re­ally take on a lot of meaning out­side the in­dustry until the ’70s, so there was little pro­mo­tional value in them. But why pay for an award in 1960 for ELVIS (1382) but not ELVIS PRESLEY (1254). And in 1961, why one for BUE HAWAII but not G.I. BLUES? Like much of the in­con­sis­ten­cies in RCA’s (lack­adaisical) han­dling of Presley through the decades, we will prob­ably never know the facts and will spend hours in speculation ...


      PS: Sur­pris­ingly, there is very little in­for­ma­tion on George Parkhill on the In­ternet, not even a Wikipedia entry .. .

  3. Hi Neal, thanks for the ar­ti­cles on RIAA Cer­ti­fi­ca­tions, they are very helpful and appreciated. 

    1. The Hound Dog/Don’t Be Cruel single is cer­ti­fied at 4million. There is an in-house award at Grace­land for Don’t Be Cruel en­graved with “Spe­cial Award for 5 mil­lion seller” con­taining 5 ac­tual records pressed in Gold and framed. Is this for World­wide Sales or USA Sales? I am un­aware of the issue date for the award.

    2. Are in-house awards for world­wide or USA sales? 

    3. The Elvis For Everyone LP rear cover con­tains the al­bums that have sold over $1million, is this world­wide sales or USA sales? 

    Thank you in ad­vance for your an­swers - Anthony

    • A

      1. Sales of “Hound Dog” / “Don’t Be Cruel” sup­pos­edly passed 5,000,000 in the US in 1956. RCA Victor “mis­placed” thou­sands of pages of pa­per­work in­volving sales of Pres­ley’s records, so there may never be an up­grade on the RIAA Plat­inum Award to the 5,000,000 sales level.

      2. In-house awards can be for what­ever the com­pany wants the award to sig­nify. In the 1950s, RCA Victor in the US gave Presley in-house awards for US sales alone.

      3. The banner on the back cover reads “WORLD WIDE $1,000,000 L.P. AL­BUMS,” so I’d guess the amounts are whole­sale numbers.

      Hope this helps!


      • Thanks Neal. What was the cri­teria for Gold, and post-1974, for Plat­inum RIAA awards for 45 EPs. Also were you aware re­cently RIAA re­duced Elvis’s album total from 146.5 mil­lion to 139 mil­lion and GOLD cer­ti­fi­ca­tions from 117 to 101? ap­pre­ciate your site, lots of great ar­ti­cles i’ve en­joyed very much. - Anthony

        • AN­THONY

          Thanks for the comment!

          I am not aware of there being any cri­teria nor any awards for EPs prior to those given Pres­ley’s es­tate in 1992.

          I am not aware of the RIAA re­ducing Elvis’s stats nor can I find any­thing about that on the in­ternet. Can you please supply me with your source?

          Here is the best ar­ticle on Pres­ley’s prob­able sales total: For the Bil­lionth and the Last Time

          I am pleased that you are pleased with this site and my work. Let’s hope that con­tinues be­cause I still have a lot to write about.

          Keep on keepin’ on!


        • This is a very good ques­tion that I have often asked my­self. The RIAA web­site lists the cri­teria for short-form al­bums / EPS (ex­tended plays) as needing the same amount sold as a single or full-length album (500,000 for gold, 1 mil­lion for plat­inum, 2 mil­lion or more for multi-platinum and 10 mil­lion for di­a­mond). How­ever, all of Elvis’ ex­tended plays were cer­ti­fied back in March 1992. As noted by An­tho­ny’s com­ment al­ready, the RIAA web­site (www.riaa.com) has re­moved 7.5 mil­lion in album sales from Elvis’ tally on the web­site to re­duce it from 146.5 mil­lion down to 139 million.

          Also, the RIAA web­site has re­duced the number of gold al­bums Elvis had from 117 down to 101 along with the number of plat­inum and multi-platinum tal­lies. Elvis has 16 ex­tended plays that are cer­ti­fied at a min­imum of gold, 10 of which have reached plat­inum status. 2 of those plat­inum ex­tended plays have reached 2X Plat­inum. So it breaks down as such:

          6 Gold
          8 Platinum
          2 2X Platinum

          Total of 16 ex­tended plays were cer­ti­fied back in March 1992. The problem I’ve al­ways no­ticed is if you ex­trap­o­late the RIAA rules as men­tioned above for short-form al­bums / ex­tended plays and apply them to the above tal­lies of the 16 ex­tended plays that are cer­ti­fied, you don’t come up with the 7.5 mil­lion that was re­duced from Elvis’ total. 6 gold would be equal to 3 mil­lion. 8 plat­inum would be equal to 8 mil­lion, and 2 2X plat­inum would be equal to 4 mil­lion. That should be a total of 15 mil­lion, which is twice as much as the 7.5 mil­lion that was re­moved from Elvis’ album tally.

          This would seem to in­di­cate that the ex­tended plays that were cer­ti­fied back in March 1992 were cer­ti­fied as gold equaling 250,000, plat­inum equaling 500,000, and 2X Plat­inum equaling 1 mil­lion. If you ex­trap­o­late those set of rules you get 6 gold equaling 1.5 mil­lion, 8 plat­inum equaling 4 mil­lion and 2 2X Plat­inum equaling 2 mil­lion. 1.5 mil­lion + 4 mil­lion + 2 mil­lion equals 7.5 mil­lion. That’s how they came up with the 7.5 mil­lion for the 16 ex­tended plays.

          I don’t quite un­der­stand why those rules were used for the ex­tended plays but it ap­pears they were. I think the logic was back then that since a short-form album or ex­tended play was roughly 1/2 of an album, it only needed 1/2 of the sales of a full-length album to be­come cer­ti­fied, even though that is not the way the cri­teria for short-form al­bums / ex­tended plays is cur­rently stated on the RIAA web­site for certification.

          Now the ques­tion is was there a mis­take back in March 1992 as far as the ex­tended plays that are just now being rec­ti­fied. This could go ei­ther way. For ex­ample, if those 6 gold ex­tended plays did, in fact, sell 500,000 copies but were only cer­ti­fied at 250,000 and if those 8 plat­inum ex­tended plays sold 1 mil­lion copies but were only cer­ti­fied at 500,000 and if those 2 2X plat­inum each sold 2 mil­lion copies but were only cer­ti­fied at 1 mil­lion that could mean that ul­ti­mately in­stead of Elvis losing 7.5 mil­lion, is going to re­gain that 7.5 mil­lion but also gain an­other 7.5 million.

          Now the flip-side of this is if in­deed the 6 gold ex­tended play al­bums only sold 250,000 and the RIAA de­cides to re­voke those cer­ti­fi­ca­tions due to not meeting the cur­rent 500,000 threshold for ei­ther a short form album or a full-length album, then that would mean that the 8 plat­inum would be­come gold for having 500,000 in sales which would equal 4 mil­lion and the 2 2X Plat­inum would be­come 2 plat­inum which would equal 2 mil­lion total. This would bring Elvis’ total ex­tended play cer­ti­fi­ca­tions only down to 6 mil­lion rather than the pre­vious 7.5 million.

          Es­sen­tially, there are 3 ways this could go. Elvis could simply re­gain the 7.5 mil­lion was taken from him and his total album sales would go back to 146.5 mil­lion (in­cluding both full-length al­bums and ex­tended plays) or he could gain that 7.5 mil­lion but also gain an­other 7.5 mil­lion due to the way the ex­tended plays were cer­ti­fied back in March 1992. Or there is the pos­si­bility that the RIAA is going to apply the new stan­dards for ex­tended plays / short form al­bums and Elvis would re­gain 6 mil­lion of the 7.5 mil­lion that was removed.

          The RIAA web­site has not shown any­thing that would in­di­cate that they are sep­a­rating full-length album sales and short-form / ex­tended play album sales when com­piling the top tally of album sales. In fact, there filter on their web­site still al­lows you to filter be­tween sin­gles or al­bums / EPs com­bined. I be­lieve Elvis is the only one who is se­ri­ously im­pacted by losing ex­tended play sales.

          • DARYL

            Thanks for the comment—and a hel­luva com­ment it is! In fact, I am going to use it as part of an ar­ticle and ad­dress all your points in detail.

            For now, let me say this for the ben­e­fits of readers un­fa­miliar with the wacky his­tory and ever-changing cri­teria of the RIAA Gold Record Awards: The RIAA in­tro­duced the Gold Record Award in 1958 to call at­ten­tion to out­standing sales. The orig­inal award for sin­gles re­quired 1,000,000 copies sold in the US at the re­tail level. The award for LP al­bums re­quired $1,000,000 in sales in the US at the man­u­fac­tur­er’s whole­sale prices. Ap­par­ently, at this time the RIAA did not set any cri­teria for 45 rpm EPs (which is odd given the sales of Pres­ley’s EPs on 1956-1957).

            In 1975, the RIAA re­quired that an album sell $1,000,000 at the whole­sale level plus a min­imum of 500,000 units (LPs and tapes).

            In 1976, the RIAA in­tro­duced the Plat­inum Record Award re­quiring 2,000,000 sales for a single and $2,000,000 plus 1,000,000 units for an album (LPs and tapes).

            In 1989, the RIAA low­ered the re­quire­ments for a single to 500,000 sales for a Gold Record and 1,000,000 for Platinum.

            The first time I saw EPs ad­dressed at all was for the 1992 awards cer­e­mony for Elvis Presley in 1992. At that time, EPs were cer­ti­fied as you surmised:

            250,000 for Gold
            500,000 for Platinum
            1,000,000 for Multi-Platinum

            If they have changed things since then, I am not sur­prised. If those changes have nei­ther ex­ternal nor in­ternal logic, I am not surprised.

            Keep on keepin’ on!


            PS: You might enjoy this book: The Bill­board Book of Gold and Plat­inum Records

  4. Hi Neal
    help un­con­fuse me please.in one re­sponse above you mention,“I am not aware of there being any cri­teria nor any awards for EPs prior to those given Presley’s es­tate in 1992. Since then, they use the same stan­dard as sin­gles: 500,000 for Gold and 1,000,000 for Platinum.”

    then within an­other re­sponse you wrote, “The first time I saw EPs ad­dressed at all was for the 1992 awards cer­e­mony for Elvis Presley in 1992. At that time, EPs were cer­ti­fied as you surmised:

    250,000 for Gold
    500,000 for Platinum
    1,000,000 for Multi-Platinum”

    are you saying that if Elvis had been cer­ti­fied for a GOLD EP when he was alive a GOLD EP was 250,000? but when he did re­ceive GOLD cer­ti­fi­ca­tions for an EP in March 1992 the cri­teria was 500,000? thank you again, Anthony

    • A

      For the first in­stance you list above (”I am not aware”), I should have written, “Since then, they changed the EP to the same stan­dard as sin­gles ...” Ac­tu­ally, there was no need to write that line at all and so I deleted it from my orig­inal com­ment (below).

      I fol­lowed the 1992 pre­sen­ta­tion of 100+ RIAA Awards to Elvis’s es­tate. I was pleased to see that Elvis was fi­nally get­ting Gold Records for his EPs, but I was flum­moxed by the cri­teria: 250,000 for Gold! 500,000 for Plat­inum! What were they thinking?

      Only three years ear­lier, the bone­heads at the RIAA had low­ered the qual­i­fi­ca­tions for a Gold Record for a single from 1,000,000 to 500,000, which made al­most no sense to me. And they made it retroac­tive, which made even less than al­most no sense.

      Why didn’t they just in­tro­duce a Silver Record Award for 500,000 sin­gles sales and 250,000 album sales and leave the Gold stan­dard alone? That makes more sense (to me) and would have been lots more fun (we would have seen thou­sands of new Silver Awards to all kinds of artists).

      And think how many Elvis al­bums have sold 250,000 but will prob­ably never reach the 500,000 mark.

      Oh, well, they did what they did and I still don’t know when they raised the cri­teria for EPs.

      So, did I an­swer your ques­tions and de-confuse you?

      Thanks for catching those er­rors. Please keep at it as I don’t want there to be mis­in­for­ma­tion on this site.



  5. RIAA didn’t help mat­ters with how they cer­ti­fied awards, but when RIAA launched its Gold Record Awards pro­gram in Jan­uary 1958, it was up to Steve Sholes to en­sure Elvis re­ceived his awards through RIAA. This in­cluded awards for records prior to Jan­uary 1958. Sholes ei­ther ig­nored RIAA on his own or was en­cour­aged by RCA. My take is prob­ably a little of both.

    RCA did a mar­keting blitz in 1964 with the re­lease of the Kissin’ Cousins album: RCA VICTOR SALUTES ELVIS 100,000,000 WORLD-WIDE SALES! We know they had help from the Colonel with adding “Get Your New Wallet Size Cal­endar At Your Record Dealer Today!”

    Fi­nally, when did RCA have the RIAA issue Elvis his first RIAA award on time for an album?

    • The RI­AA’s orig­inal cri­teria were simple and made sense: 1,000,000 copies of a single and $1,000,000 at the whole­sale end for an LP (fig­ured as one-third of the ti­tle’s re­tail price). As most pop LPs re­tailed for $3.98 or so, that meant that an album had to sell just over 750,000 copies to qualify. This was an as­tro­nom­ical figure in 1958 that would look ridicu­lous in the wake of Beat­le­mania and the British In­va­sion but, ex­cept for Elvis and Ray Charles, it’s hard to think of any rock & roll or rhythm & blues album from the ’50s or early ’60s that was awarded an RIAA Gold Record Award.

      Sholes or RCA Victor sub­mitted “Hard Headed Woman” for RIAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion but more or less stopped sub­mit­ting Presley plat­ters for fur­ther awards until the early ’60s. I haven’t a clue as to why ex­cept that it cost RCA to pay for the audit and the awards and they had their own in-house awards so the RIAA thin­gies didn’t matter much.

      I as­sume that the 100,000,000 WORLD-WIDE SALES that RCA was saluting in 1964 was just for sin­gles. Presley had sold more than 50,000,000 sin­gles in the US in the’50s and prob­ably an­other 10,000,000 in 1960-1963, so that sounds right. (Plus, I don’t think anyone was ac­tu­ally counting LPs sold, just dol­lars accumulated.)

      RCA Victor pre­sented Elvis with his first gold record for “Heart­break Hotel” on April 11, 1956, at the ses­sion where he recorded “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You” in Nashville. I as­sume they kept giving him so-called “in-house” awards with every single that sold a million.

      LPM-4088, Elvis, the sound­track for the NBC-TV spe­cial, was cer­ti­fied by the RIAA in early 1969, his fif­teenth RIAA Gold Record overall. He re­ceived four more RIAA awards that year but still RCA did not submit dozens of ear­lier records for cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Which is weird.

      Hope that helps.

      Now, I’m gonna go relax by slicin’ sand and doin’ the clam ...

      PS: The orig­inal RIAA Awards did not take into con­sid­er­a­tion the sales achieve­ments of EP al­bums until 1992 or so.

  6. Thanks, Neal

    It does help, but can’t say the same for RCA and Sholes.

    What doesn’t make sense is the photo of Sholes handing Elvis an award for his Christmas album with no RIAA plaque in 1964.

    RCA was saluting 100,000,000 WORLD-WIDE SALES for al­bums see at­tached clippings.

    In 1965 RCA re­leased the Elvis For Everyone album with the back­side: WORLD WIDE $1,000,000 L.P. ALBUMS.

    • The Gold Record Award from the RIAA was made in Au­gust 1963, so the one that Sholes is holding in the 1964 photo could be any­thing, in­cluding a dummy for the photo.

      I’ll bet you a French pastry to a cheap donut that all the rock & roll and rhythm & blues LP al­bums in the world prob­ably didn’t come close to 100,000,000 ac­cu­mu­lated sales in 1964.

      I un­der­stand the WORLD WIDE $1,000,000 L.P. AL­BUMS to mean that the com­bined sales of each of those al­bums around the world reached the fig­ures given on the back cover of Elvis For Everyone. For RCA to have fig­ured out the whole­sale price of LPs in all those coun­tries was prob­ably a bit of a chore at that time.

      What we need is for someone to un­cover boxloads of RCA pa­per­work con­cerning sales of Elvis records from 1955 through at least 1980. 

      Thanks for the comments!


      PS: I’ll offer you an­other pastry-to-donut bet that RCA sold more Elvis al­bums in the US be­tween Au­gust 1977 and Au­gust 1980 than they sold in the whole world in the ’50s.

  7. I’ll pass on bet­ting that RCA sold more Elvis al­bums in the US be­tween Au­gust 1977 and Au­gust 1980 than they sold in the whole world in the ’50s. Be­lieve Elvis had 12 al­bums in Bill­board’s Top 200 after he passed and an­other in­ter­esting note from RCA: In June ’77, In­di­anapolis air­port re­ceiving a plaque from RCA com­mem­o­rating the pressing of the two bil­lionth record at RCA’s In­di­anapolis pressing plant (which was done during the man­u­fac­turing of Elvis’ new album, Moody Blue) be­fore his last con­cert in In­di­anapolis on June 26, 1977.

    • Even if we credit each of the ten Elvis LP al­bums with sales of 1,000,000 each in the US (1254, 1382, and 1707 may have reached that but un­likely for the others), then there were 10,000,000 LP sales in the ’50s. RCA sold many times that amount of LPs and tapes in the US in the three years after his death. But that’s an­other story for an­other article ...


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