CSPC: The Beatles Popularity Analysis

I Want to Hold Your Hand

Controversy #2: I Want To Hold Your Hand US / Global Sales

As the first and biggest selling single emerging during the Beatles invasion, I Want To Hold Your Hand has been the subject of various sales myths. Maybe more surprisingly, it is in the middle of myths in both sides – deflating and inflating its results.

Previously stated at 12 million in the US alone on various Medias, the accepted figure nowadays happens to be 5 million US sales, with the 12 million claim being assigned to Worldwide sales. This being said, those figures are strongly inflated.

In Hunter Davies official 1968 biography, following figures were revealed:

In fact, I Want To Hold Your Hand sold a bit more than 3 million – some 3,2 million to date. So 3,2 million in the US, 5 million worldwide, case closed? Not exactly. Figures from this scan are fully correct but they refer to EMI owned releases only.

In their initial years, the Beatles records were sold on a leasing agreement by Odeon in various countries. Among areas where it sold relevant numbers, I Want To Hold Your Hand wasn’t issued by EMI in Germany, France and Japan. This is why the single is well past 7 million units by now. It is even over the 7,5 million units sold by Hey Jude stated by EMI as the group top seller in their October 1972 report. The song Hey Jude itself hasn’t sold 7,5 million units but past 8 million instead by selling near half a million units in Japan plus some more copies in Latin America under various other labels.

4.5 31 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I’m curious why their digital singles sales are so low compared to the likes of Queen and MJ?


I guess that one important reason is that they wait many years until put the catalogue there (2009), and 5 years later that market started to collapse, so they had few years to make sales. I mean, even Elvis have a little more digital sales, when the Beatles outstream him x2.


It’s explained on page 31 of this article.


I would love to see the sales of George Harrison. Both John Lennon and Paul Mccartney are updated while George and Ringo are missing. I assume Ringo hasn’t sold that well but George had string of succesful albums starting with All Things Must Pass. Maybe in the future when The Beatles sales are going to be updated you could also do George and Ringo, same as it was done with Neil Young, when both Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were done at the same time. I’m sure a lot of people would love to see that. Thank… Read more »

Tom Riise

An update on The Beatles would be great.

Eric Williams

BFD on amount of records sold. Theres more people in the world. All these groups/people are playing because of the BEATLES. I bought my first guitar from a guys living room. I traded my flute in for an electric guitar, at Jacks Drum Shop, after Feb. 1964 when they were on Ed Sullivan. There was no Guitar Center, or anything like that. Since the BEATLES, everyone and their brother play guitar.

1 4 5 6