Such a beautiful song! From what I've read, The Seekers sold over 50 million records.
How many albums did The Kingston Trio sell? Anybody know?
Hi Susan -
The page linked below doesn't offer sources for the numbers, but its estimate of 3.5 million LPs sold by the Trio strikes me as close to accurate.
7 albums going gold at the dawn of the album era is really impressive.
Now that may look pale compared to The Seekers, but there are a few points to remember here.
The 33 and 1/3 rpm album didn't exist until 1948 -
and IIRC it was thought to be primarily a vehicle for classical music.
That changed quickly in the early 1950s as jazz and pop groups recognized that the format was well-suited to 12 to 14 3-4 minute tracks on each LP, and the whole music world sat up and took notice in 1956 when Harry Belafonte's Calypso album sold more than a million copies, the first LP to do so - making both Harry B and RCA Records buckets and buckets of money.
However, for a number of years 45rpm singles continued to outsell albums by a huge margin - 45s were cheaper and had only the specific music that the buyer wanted.
After Belafonte, the KT was a significant factor in the popularization of LPs, and by the mid to late 1960s musicians across all genres focused primarily on albums and saw both the potential for profit as well as the ability to develop themes and styles in the content of the LPs. And where only Belafonte had a million seller before the KT came along, by 1970 or so selling a million units had become the benchmark for an album's success.
The Seekers arrived at exactly the right time to benefit from this. Their tunes were listener-friendly, their 4 part arrangements were brilliantly professional, and Judith Durham's voice was just entrancing. The band also had a more international appeal than most other groups, with massive sales in the UK and USA in addition to their native Australia. The KT had a bit of success in the UK and a rush of popularity for a time in Japan, but the US was home base and really where they made their money.
So - the KT's peak of popularity was 1959 and 1960, well before the dominance of LPs in record sales. While I haven't found a breakdown for The Seekers, I'm pretty sure that the 50 million figure includes both albums and singles. The Trio had only one million-selling single (TD of course), but it sold at least 3 million units and possibly as many as 6 million.