France best selling albums ever: Concert In Central Park by Simon & Garfunkel (1982)
Simon & Garfunkel had a very short career. Time wise it lasted six years with studio albums released from 1964 to 1970. Albums wise it was much better has they released only five sets. Their small catalog has had a never ending appeal ever since yet.
Just like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones, their studio albums sold in the 50,000 to 200,000 range when first released during the 60s. The market was awfully bad and even a massive record like Bridge Over Troubled Water failed to go beyond those figures during its first few years. Hits are still hits independently of the market yet and many of their songs including Sounds Of Silence, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Mrs Robinson, Cecilia, The Boxer and El Condor Pasa are well known since they have always remain radio favorites.
If original studio albums haven’t sold that much, this appeal created an outstanding three million selling albums just thanks to those songs, 1972 Greatest Hits, this present 1982 Concert In Central Park and 1992 The Definitive Simon & Garfunkel.
After the 1970 split following strong tensions between the pair, the duo barely met for a few songs live here and there during the 70s. In September 19 1981, they did their first complete show in almost a decade with a free, charity show in New York city. A crowd of 500,000 persons joined to assist this unique show. Such a hyped performance obviously got registered and released only a few months later, in February 1982. If the set was a strong seller in most countries, it did insanely well in France.
At the #1 spot during over four months, it was the summer hit of 1982. The small tour the duo did after seeing the impact of the Central Park event came in France twice in June and one third time in September, explaining partially why this release maintained such a high level of sales during months. The lack of competition during the weakest summer months obviously helped, but the record still sold well over 600,000 units for the year, an incredible result at the time.
With catalog sales increasing the tally year after year, the set was certified 3xPlatinum, 900,000 units, in 1991. In the large Sony Music catalog audit from April 1995, Concert In Central Park was awarded with an impressive Diamond award. It was the very first foreign live album ever certified Diamond. Since, only one other such album replicated such a feat, Serious Hits… Live by Phil Collins.
Celebrating the 15th anniversary of the performance, the album charted six weeks inside the main Top 40 album chart in late 1996, achieving close to 100,000 sales for the year. In spite of not charting since, the set remain a steady seller currently featuring inside the Top 1000 on Amazon.fr ranking. It sold an estimated 60,000 copies from 1997 to 2002 and about the same since.
Net shipment as of the end of 2015 is estimated at 1,240,000 copies.
As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!
Sources: SNEP, Nielsen, Platine, IFOP.