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RIAA Celebrates 50 Years Of Gold Records

Day marks Elvis' first certified Gold Record

WASHINGTON – The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) today celebrates the 50th anniversary of its historic Gold Record as part of its Gold & Platinum certification program. Fifty years ago today, Elvis was awarded his first ever RIAA Gold certification for his hit single “Hard Headed Woman.”

In 1958, the RIAA developed an industry-wide program for recognition of sales, trademarked the Gold Record and formalized the record label practice of presenting awards to their artists for hit songs. Fifty years later, the program’s brand and reflection of success has achieved unparalleled stature, and the bestowment of Gold or Platinum status of sales is often a defining moment for artists.

The RIAA awarded the very first Gold plaque in March 1958 to Perry Como for his hit single “Catch a Falling Star” on RCA Records. Four months later, the cast album to Oklahoma! sung by Gordon MacRae (Capitol Records) became the first official Gold album. Elvis followed one month later with his landmark award, one of his 53 Gold single certifications from the RIAA.

First awarded to sound recordings on LP formats but expanded to a variety of formats as technology changed the way fans enjoyed music to include cassette tapes, compact discs (CDs), digital tracks, digital albums, and master ringtones, more than 8,000 titles have been certified Gold by the RIAA during the last fifty years.

The Gold Record has been a signature and frequent reflection of success for a number of notable artists ranging from Elvis, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Celtic Woman, Chicago, Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, and Judas Priest to Akon, Garth Brooks, Gwen Stefani, Josh Groban, Kenny Chesney, Madonna, Nelly, Toby Keith, and many many others. The RIAA also has documented the popularity of soundtracks, live albums, multi-disc sets and music videos with its Gold Record award.

“Since 1958, great music has been painted in Gold and Platinum,” said Mitch Bainwol, Chairman & CEO, RIAA. “The 50th anniversary of RIAA’s G&P program is a celebration of the steadfast thrill and pure enjoyment that music has been giving to fans throughout the decades. This tradition honors the symbiotic relationship between artists and their fans and the great music that binds them. And it’s only fitting to celebrate this rich tradition by honoring a pioneer of rock ‘n roll – a King – who blazed an exciting trail for future generations of artists and fans with a sound that continues to inspire. This history encapsulates the true power of music.

“While the music industry continues to transform itself, the power of great music doesn’t change,” continued Bainwol. “We recognize all the artists, fans and music community members involved in the G&P tradition and we look forward to more moments in the decades ahead.”

In addition to the 53 RIAA Gold single certifications (which includes eleven gold records for hits released in 1956 and 1957 that were later certified by the RIAA), Elvis earned 81 RIAA-certified Gold Records for his widely popular albums, starting in 1960 with his hit album Elvis.

“We congratulate the RIAA on the anniversary of the Gold Record in conjunction with its Gold and Platinum program,” said Jack Soden, CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises. “Although Elvis had several hits (later certified) starting in 1956 with ‘Heartbreak Hotel,’ this anniversary was a historic day for him to be officially recognized by the RIAA. Elvis’ career achievements are marked in Gold and Platinum and we thank the RIAA and congratulate the G&P program on its 50th anniversary. We know that there’s another 50 great years of music in store.”

The RIAA program subsequently established awards for sales of more than one million albums with the introduction of the Platinum award in 1976 and multi-Platinum award in the mid-1980s commemorating more than two million album sales. In March 1999, the RIAA launched the Diamond award, honoring sales of 10 million or more. Currently, the Gold Record is awarded to recording artists for sales of more than 500,000 copies.

Several prominent artists commented on the golden anniversary of Gold & Platinum.

“Judas Priest have been making metal for well over three decades and during this incredible journey we have been proud to receive many gold and platinum RIAA awards. Our first Gold RIAA award was presented to us for British Steel which over time has come to be regarded as one of Priest’s most classic releases. Songs like ‘Breaking the Law’ and ‘Living After Midnight’ are part of American rock culture so all of us in Priest have the best of metal memories when we look back at the making of British Steel.”

“Today when we play, hear or see anything from Steel we think about the amazing studio sessions at John Lennon’s former mansion in England and should you get a look at Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ video -- that’s the room where Glenn was cranking the riff for ‘Living After Midnight’ in the early hours - waking up Rob who was trying to sleep in the room above and who upon coming downstairs made the comment ‘Glenn you are living after midnight!’ The rest is metal history!!!! Thank you RIAA and congratulations for 50 years of recognition for all the music we make!” –Rob, Glenn, K.K., Ian and Scott, Judas Priest


“I have to admit it took awhile for it to sink in when I was first told. It finally hit home when I saw it in writing, ‘Platinum recording artist Akon.’ It was then when I stopped for a moment and realized how much I have accomplished. I can't stop now. I'm working to go Diamond. Going Platinum makes me feel, certified. I'm a legitimate artist.” –Akon


"To be awarded a Gold Disc for Celtic Woman—A New Journey was an incredible feeling. We worked so hard on it and were very proud of it, but to find out the CD had gone gold was the icing on the cake. I've always dreamed of owning a Gold disc but now that dream is a reality and it has pride of place in my hallway where everyone can see it! It is a remarkable award and I hope it continues for another 50 years.” –Lisa Kelly, Celtic Woman


“To say that I felt great would be an understatement. The most incredible feeling is that not 10 or 1000 people like your music, but 1 million. Certified Platinum says 1 million people like you enough to spend $7 to $12 on hearing you do something you love. It's a BIG honor. One million people is a lot - and to think I sold 30 million records. I'm humbled and grateful.” –Nelly


1942 RCA-Victor executive presents bandleader Glenn Miller a gold record award for more than one million copies sold of the chart-topping “Chattanooga Choo Choo”

1952 The Recording Industry Association of America was created

March 14, 1958 First single audited and pronounced Gold - Perry Como’s “Catch a Falling Star”

July 6, 1958 Cast album to Oklahoma! sung by Gordon Macrae becomes the first official Gold album

August 11, 1958 Elvis Presley earns his first of 53 total Gold single certifications for “Hard Headed Woman”

February 3, 1964 Four days before the Beatles landed in the U.S., “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and Meet the Beatles! were both certified Gold

May 12, 1964 Barbra Streisand earns her first of 50 Gold albums with her sophomore album The Second Barbra Streisand Album

February 22, 1976 The Eagles album, The Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 was the first album to qualify for the brand new Platinum Award. It is currently the most popular album ever sold with a total of 29 million units sold

November 28, 1979 Columbia Records releases Pink Floyd’s The Wall which becomes the highest certified (23 million) double album

December 1984 Multi-Platinum category introduced

May 13, 1985 Foreigner’s Agent Provacateur (Atlantic Records) becomes first album released after introduction of MP award to be certified multi-platinum (2x)

November 3, 1993 The Bodyguard soundtrack sells 10 million units in the first year of its release, and goes on to become the highest certified soundtrack album at 17 million units

1999 Premios Oro y Platino introduced

Diamond Award introduced – 62 titles in first class of 10 million+ recipients

January 26, 2000 27 titles earn Oro, Platino and multi-Platino status in the launch of the Latin Awards Program. Jose Luis Rodriguez’s Inolvidables (Sony Latin) earns highest Latin honors at 6x Platino

2004 Digital Single award introduced

November 8, 2004 The best-selling album by a female solo artist, Shania Twain’s Come On Over, reaches 20 million units

October 7, 2005 Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” becomes first digital single to sell one million units

2006 Master Ringtone award introduced

May 14, 2007 Chamillionaire’s master ringtone “Ridin’” earns nod as highest certified ringtone to date at 4x Platinum

November 2007 Garth Brooks crowned as most successful solo artist in history with 123 million career albums sold

2008 RIAA celebrates 50th Anniversary of Gold Record


Highest Number of Gold certified albums:

Group: The Beatles – 45

Male solo artist: Elvis Presley – 81

Female solo artist: Barbra Streisand – 50

Highest Number of certifications (all multi-Platinum certifications counted as 1):

Group: The Beatles – 108

Male solo artist: Elvis Presley – 150

Female solo artist: Barbra Streisand – 93

Most albums sold:

Group: The Beatles – 170

Male solo artist: Garth Brooks – 128

Female solo artist: Barbra Streisand – 71


1950s Top Gold Album Recipients

1 – Ernie Ford, Gordon MacRae, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mathis, Mitch Miller & the Gang, Rogers & Hammerstein

1960s Top Gold Album Recipients

15 – The Beatles

14 – Elvis Presley

13 – Andy Williams

12 – Frank Sinatra

11 – Dean Martin, The Rolling Stones, H. Alpert and the Tijuana Brass

10 – Mitch Miller & the Gang

1970s Top Gold Album Recipients

16 – Elvis Presley

15 – Elton John

14 – Barbra Streisand

13 – John Denver, Neil Diamond

12 – Bob Dylan, Chicago, Jethro Tull

11 – Grand Funk Railroad, Paul McCartney, Charley Pride, The Rolling Stones 10 – Santana, Jefferson Airplane/Starship, Kiss, Three Dog Night

* Platinum award introduced in this decade.

1970s Top Platinum Album Recipients

6 – KISS

5 – Wings (Paul McCartney)

4 – Bee Gees, Neil Diamond, Earth Wind & Fire, Heart, Waylon Jennings, Barry Manilow, Ted Nugent, Linda Ronstadt, Barbra Streisand

1980s Top Gold Album Recipients

16 – Hank Williams, Jr.

13 – Willie Nelson

12 – Alabama, Kenny Rogers

11 – AC/DC, George Strait

10 – The Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, Neil Diamond, Judas Priest, Prince

*Multi-Platinum award introduced in this decade.

1980s Top Platinum Album Recipients

15 – Barbra Streisand

13 – The Rolling Stones

11 – Chicago

9 – Alabama, Billy Joel, Kenny Rogers

8 – Prince, Rush

7 – Black Sabbath, Neil Diamond, The Doors, Willie Nelson

6 – AC/DC, Aerosmith, Pat Benatar, Fleetwood Mac, Hall & Oates, Journey, Madonna, Pink Floyd, Linda Ronstadt, Santana, Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen, Luther Vandross, Neil Young

1980s Top Multi-Platinum Album Recipients

8 – Billy Joel

7 – Alabama, Journey, Barbra Streisand, Van Halen

6 – Aerosmith, Chicago, Earth Wind & Fire

5 – Fleetwood Mac, Foreigner, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Barry Manilow, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen

4 – AC/DC, Neil Diamond, Madonna, John Mellencamp, Motley Crue, Willie Nelson, Olivia Newton-John, Pink Floyd, Prince, Simon & Garfunkel, Styx

1990s Top Gold Album Recipients

33 – Elvis

15 – The Beatles, The Temptations

13 – Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, George Strait

12 – Neil Diamond

11 – Vince Gill, Mannheim Steamroller

10 – Aerosmith, Kenny G, Prince, Kenny Rogers, Rush, Barbra Streisand,

Tanya Tucker

*Diamond award was introduced in this decade.

1990s Top Platinum Album Recipients

45 – Elvis Presley

31 – The Beatles

21 – Elton John, George Strait

13 – Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire

10 – Alabama, Led Zeppelin

9 – Vince Gill, Alan Jackson

8 – Mariah Carey, The Carpenters, Eric Clapton, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Neil Diamond, Kenny G, Kenny Rogers

7 – AC/DC, Clint Black, Michael Bolton, Harry Connick Jr., Celine Dion, Madonna, Barbra Streisand, The Who

1990s Top Multi-Platinum Album Recipients

20 – The Beatles

17 – Elvis Presley

12 – Garth Brooks, Led Zeppelin

11 – Elton John, Van Halen

10 – Billy Joel, Madonna, Pink Floyd, George Strait, Barbra Streisand

9 – AC/DC

8 – Aerosmith, Mariah Carey, Kenny G, Reba McEntire, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne, Bruce Springsteen, U2

1990s Top Diamond Album Recipients

5 – The Beatles

4 – Garth Brooks, Led Zeppelin

2 – Backstreet Boys, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Eagles, Whitney Houston, Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, Shania Twain, Van Halen

2000s Top Gold Album Recipients (through 2007)

17 – Elvis Presley

11 – George Strait

10 – Jay-Z

9 – Kenny Chesney, Bob Dylan, Kidz Bop Kids, Dave Matthews Band

8 – Johnny Cash, Toby Keith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Barbra Streisand

6 – Gary Allan, Tony Bennett, Grateful Dead, R. Kelly, Diana Krall, Ludacris, Barry Manilow, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, Nelly, Snoop Dogg, Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart, Third Day

*Digital and Ringtone awards introduced in this decade.

2000s (through 2007) Top Platinum Album Recipients

12 – Elvis Presley

11 – Jay-Z

10 – Toby Keith

9 – John Denver, The Rolling Stones

8 – Dave Matthews Band, George Strait

7 – Kenny Chesney, Eagles

6- AC/DC, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, The Doors, R. Kelly, Tim McGraw

2000s (through 2007) Top Multi-Platinum Album Recipients

12 – Elvis Presley

11 – Eagles

10 – AC/DC, The Beatles

8 – Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, Metallica

7 – John Denver, Jay-Z, The Rolling Stones

6 – Foreigner, Faith Hill, Madonna, Queen, Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band

5 – Aerosmith, Kenny Chesney, Celine Dion, Eminem, Toby Keith, R. Kelly, Dave Matthews Band, Red Hot Chili Peppers, George Strait, Van Halen

2000s (through 2007) Top Diamond Album Recipients

5 – The Beatles

4 – Garth Brooks

3 – Eagles, Led Zeppelin, Shania Twain

2000s (through 2007) Top Gold Digital Single Recipients

10 – Nelly

7 – Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne

6 – Akon , Beyonce, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Rascal Flatts

5 – 3 Doors Down, 50 Cent, Christina Aguilera, Black Eyed Peas, Mariah Carey, Coldplay, Eminem, Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West

2000s (through 2007) Top Platinum Digital Single Recipients

4 – Rihanna

3 – Akon, Rascal Flatts, Justin Timberlake

2 – Natasha Bedingfield, Fall Out Boy, The Fray

2000s (through 2007) Top Multi-Platinum Digital Single Recipients

1 – Akon, Beyonce, The Fray, Daniel Powter, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West

2000s (through 2007) Top Gold Master Ringtone Single Recipients

8 – 50 Cent

6 – Beyonce, Chris Brown, Ciara, T.I.

5 – AC/DC, Akon, Bow Wow, Mariah Carey

4 – Fergie, T-Pain, Young Jeezy

3 – Ludacris, Sean Paul, Pussycat Dolls, Rihanna, Three 6 Mafia, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Yung Joc

2000s (through 2007) Top Platinum Master Ringtone Single Recipients

4 – Akon, Bow Wow, Chris Brown, Ciara, Fergie, T-Pain

3 – Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Keyshia Cole, Pussycat Dolls, Young Jeezy

2 – 50 Cent, Birdman/Lil’Wayne, Destiny’s Child, Nelly Furtado, Marvin Gaye, Mike Jones, Nelly, Ne-Yo, Rihanna, Shakira, T.I.

2000s (through 2007) Top Multi-Platinum Master Ringtone Single Recipients

3 – Akon

2 – T-Pain


The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi-Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy