Why Eagles' 'Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)' Keeps Soaring

Eagles' 'Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)'
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Elektra Records

The greatest hits album is a rite of passage for most rock and roll hitmakers - but few collections maintain a hold on the public conscious quite like Eagles' Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975).

Released Feb. 17, 1976, less than a year after the group's fourth album One of These Nights, Their Greatest Hits came together for a simple reason. “We decided it was time to put out the first greatest-hits because we had enough hits,” longtime manager Irving Azoff told Rolling Stone. Indeed, nine of the album's 10 tracks hit the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, with "Witchy Woman," the chart-toppers "Best of My Love" and "One of These Nights," "Lyin' Eyes" and "Take It to the Limit" all becoming Top 10s. (Several of their biggest hits had yet to be released; Hotel California, released at the end of '76, spun off two more No. 1s in "New Kid in Town" and the epic title track.)

Read More: Summer 1975: Eagles Soar Over America with "One of These Nights"

The notably particular band was, not surprisingly, initially bothered by the idea of releasing such an album. "All the record company was worried about were their quarterly reports," singer Don Henley huffed. "They didn't give a shit whether the greatest hits album was good or not, they just wanted product." But the album was pretty good, and the public seemed to think so: in its first week of release, it debuted within the Top 5 of the Billboard 200. A week later, it started a five-week run at No. 1. By the end of February, it became the first album to receive the Recording Industry Association of America's new platinum award, given to albums that ship more than one million copies.

Those platinum plaques kept coming, even after the band's break-up and reformation. On Nov. 10, 1999, the RIAA shocked the world when it announced that Their Greatest Hits was certified a staggering 27x platinum - two million more than Michael Jackson's Thriller, commonly regarded as the world's bestselling album. The King of Pop's magnum opus outsold the Eagles after his passing in 2009, officially crossing the 30x platinum mark in 2015 - but on Aug. 20, 2018, Their Greatest Hits came from behind again with a groundswell of sales, topping out at 38x platinum. (Thriller currently sits at 33x platinum in America, and some scrutinize the math.)

Read More: Released #OTD in 2003: "The Very Best of Eagles"

Even as additional and more comprehensive compilations have hit record store shelves, like 1982's Eagles Greatest Hits Vol. 2 and 2003's The Very Best of (which features everything from the first two volumes and more), Their Greatest Hits remains a strong seller, spending a total of 356 weeks on the Billboard 200 as of February 2021.

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