Elvis Presley’s physical singles sales

Anne Laure , Paris

If his album sales are subject to various utopic myths, Elvis Presley‘s singles sales aren’t a mystery at all. Fact is, he sold an insane number of them. More than anyone who debuted after him, that means more than the Beatles, among many others.

Of course, It’s Now Or Never is nowhere near the 20 million sales often claimed. One must understand that historically labels used to state sales of every record that ever contained a song as copies sold of that song. Bing Crosby‘s White Christmas was quickly reported at 30 million. Every time Elvis’ Christmas Album was selling a copy, that was incrementing that tally since White Christmas is covered on it. That’s why sales figures for Christmas favorites, like Silent Night or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, were massively overstated – and still are – because they were covered on most Christmas albums.

So, how many singles has Presley really sold? Since there is no pricing issue, no multi-discs troubles and almost exclusively RCA records concerned, their RIAA tally is fairly straightforward and clear. It stands at 50,5 million singles sold. The list can be viewed here, using the “More details” button.

One may consider 51,5 million singles have been certified. Both The Wonder of You and My Way got awarded for 1 million shipments during their promotional campaign but failed to get that certification confirmed during 1992’s comprehensive audit. It’s due to returns pushing net shipments back under the million mark.

Why do I say that his singles sales aren’t a mystery? Well, in the US, studying chart runs and RIAA awards gives us a total that will never differ much from the 75 to 80 million span. That includes the 361,000 units sold by Sun singles before the signing of Presley to RCA. In the UK, his official tally is slightly over 20 million physical singles. Here too, the margin of error small, checking every data concludes on 21 to 23 million sales. Sales in Canada, Germany, Japan, Scandinavia, France and Italy are also under control. Elsewhere, most of his singles weren’t even released and when they were, the market was very low back in the day. Career totals have also been quoted through the years by Jorgensen and NME while the Worldwide Gold Awards compilation listed every song that made it past a million globally. With all this information, it’s almost impossible to be very wrong.

Thus, instead of getting into each and every technicality backing numbers, this article presents results from several perspectives. page 2 includes sales per single, page 3 sales per market, page 4 sales per year of first release. As usual, I’ll be happy to answer questions and queries if something bothers you.

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Robert

Did you include Hound Dog with Don’t be Cruel?

Colin Bratkovich

Robert /IF you are noting MY review of Presley physical singles (using original RCA record catalogs) ,I used CHARTMASTERS own list to (155).It will be up to CHARTMASTERS to further check & confirm .Hopefully ,when time permits ,they will find my research useful, as well as a needed update of missing sales data.

Colin Bratkovich

MORE of the end of Presley physical SINGLES up to 1968/CHARTMASTERS (no.64) finds PUPPET ON A STRING /TELL ME WHY.As TELL ME WHY is already at (no.58),it should be dropped./CHARTMASTERS (no.76). INDESCRIBABLY BLUE is noted at 460,000,yet the RCA 1967 catalog gives it over half a million./The same for SPINOUT (no.78) ,OVER a half a million. CHARTMASTERS has it at 430,000./As CHARTMASTERS has noted many titles that were ALSO on EP,or originally on EP in the (US),these titles,mostly BRITISH HMV issues,are more than fair to note,as I am noting them as all PHYSICAL releases before 1968./As many other countries issued… Read more »

Colin Bratkovich

MORE at last/CHARTMASTERS (no.47) as I’m YOURS at 940,000.THE RCA BLUE catalog credits ONLY it’s original flip “IT”s A LONG LONELY HIGHWAY as a HALF MILLION SELLER,/I made an error-I SHOULD HAVE noticed no.79 WITH your number 134/OTHERWISE-as far as SINGLE RELEASES ,the Elvis Presley history of sales is given another (early) look?Also keep in mind,people like MJD & AL at CHARTMASTERS,these are OFFICIALLY from RCA-before the recording industry began changing RULES./A GOLD RECORD was over a MILLION COPIES for SINGLES/A GOLD ALBUM was over a MILLION DOLLARS-not copies./RECORD COMPANIES that issued GOLD records THEN,had standards.Looking back,it’s unfortunate that the… Read more »

Colin Bratkovich

MORE& MORE/CHARTMASTERS-already reported but (no.126) is NOT PRESLEY.Get rid of this garbage/CHARTMASTERS (no.134) notes LAWSY MISS CLAWDY /SHAKE RATTLE & ROLL at 50,000./The RCA RED catalog ONLY lists SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL as a WORLDWIDE HALF MILLION SELLER/Please change/CHARTMASTERS (no.128) notes I DON’T CARE IF THE SUN DON’t SHINE at 80,000.The RCA RED catalog listed it as over HALF A MILLION WORLDWIDE sold.Please change.

Colin Bratkovich

MORE/MORE/CHARTMASTERS (no.84) as MYSTERY TRAIN/I FORGOT TO REMEMBER TO FORGET is noted at 380,000.First of all DROP MYSTERY TRAIN -as it’s titled on your no.141.-More so,it also charted without it’s original US flip.THE RCA RED catalog credits I FORGOT TO REMEMBER TO FORGET as an official WORLDWIDE HALF MILLION SELLER.Change your low figure on this./CHARTMASTERS no.85 as YOURE A HEARTBREAKER at 380,000./THE RCA RED catalog only noted it;s original flip side MILKCOW BLUES BOOGIE at WORLDWIDE HALF A MILLION -add this one/CHARTMASTERS no.101 notes MONEY HONEY at 220,000./The RCA RED catalog notes it as WORLDWIDE HALF A MILLION copies/Change it/

Colin Bratkovich

MORE OF singles info/CHARTMASTERS (no.70) as BABY LETS PLAY HOUSE/I’M LEFT YOUR RIGHT SHES GONE should be broken up.Perhaps with CHARTMASTERS (no.133) ?/CHARTMASTERS no.61 GUITAR MAN has got to be low? /CHARTMASTERS (no,75) US MALE is low.A later RCA catalog gave credit to it’s (low) charted flip STAY AWAY at HALF A MILLION-a dumb mistake-It’s really US MALE /CHARTMASTERS (no.83) credits BLUE MOON at 380,000.RCA RED listed it at over HALF A MILLION sales.Change it/

Colin Bratkovich

CHARTMASTERS (no.37) credits VIVA LAS VEGAS/WHAT’D I SAY at 1,370,000.The RCA RED catalog notes ONLY VIVA LAS VEGAS as a WORLDWIDE MILLION SELLER.As the flip side did chart slightly over it in the (US),the rest of the world found Viva Las Vegas the charted item.I would DROP What’d I Say on this one./CHARTMASTERS (no.41) notes I FEEL SO BAD at 1,050.000.It is also a RCA RED catalog entity as a WORLDWIDE MILLION SELLER.However,it;s original flip side ,a minor charted entity in the US,was a huge seller elsewhere in the world.Indeed WILD IN THE COUNTRY got a silver DISC award for… Read more »

Colin Bratkovich

MORE/MORE/& info again/CHARTMASTERS (no.26) lists ONE NIGHT at 1,770,000.Later than 1964 sales perhaps made this title a million seller,although original charted positions were high in top ten.This included R&B success & worldwide top ten charted placings The RCA RED catalog DOES NOT list it at all/It DOES list it’s original ‘flip’ I GOT STUNG as a WORLDWIDE MILLION SELLER & a DOMESTIC (US) MILLION seller.Look at this,as well as (later) sales-& add I GOT STUNG.Perhaps RCA’s bean counters messed up? CHARTMASTERS (no.29) TOO MUCH/TOO MUCH is listed as 1,660,000.As BOTH titles are given the nod as WORLDWIDE MILLION SELLERS &… Read more »

Colin Bratkovich

MORE /MORE. plus/CHARTMASTERS no.16) CAN’t HELP FALLING IN LOVE is noted at 2,470,000.IT was noted by RCA RED as a MILLION SELLER as well as a DOMESTIC (US) MILLION SELLER.Somehow,& unlike regular policy,it’s sales were presented to the RIAA (1961-62)-which is THE DOMESTIC (US) MILLION “GOLD”.Or perhaps another was issued by RCA as well?In any case,your figure is too low.The original flip “ROCK A HULA BABY is also noted by the RCA RED catalog as a WORLDWIDE MILLION SELLER .Another title that needs to be added. CHARTMASTERS (no.22) has WOODEN HEART at 1,960,000.The RCA RED catalog also introduced this title… Read more »

Colin Bratkovich

MORE of MORE or MORE info/CHARTMASTERS (no.9) notes TEDDY BEAR at 3,030,000>The RCA RED catalog also has it as a WORLDWIDE MILLION SELLER & Also lists it’s original flip LOVING YOU as a WORLDWIDE MILLION SELLER & a DOMESTIC (US) MILLION SELLER as well.As a charted B side,it needs to be added as a verified title. CHARTMASTER (no.11) has GOOD LUCK CHARM at 2,840,000 .AS a RED RCA catalog entity,it is noted as a WORLDWIDE MILLION SELLER & a DOMESTIC (US) MILLION SELLER.BUT where is the flip-ANYTHING THAT’s Part OF YOU?The RCA RED catalog notes it as a WORLDWIDE MILLION… Read more »

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