Diamond discs for top-selling albums

PROVING THAT popularity and quality need not be close bedfellows, the American record industry yesterday announced a new category of award disc for record sales that outstrip both the gold and the platinum discs.

Reflecting a kind of precious metal inflation, the Recording Industry Association of America awarded 62 new "diamond discs" to the albums or singles that have sold over 10 million copies.

Gold discs go to records selling 500,000 copies and platinum discs to those selling a million, but the diamond disc has been designed for monster-sellers such as Michael Jackson's Thriller and The Eagles' Greatest Hits 1971-75, both of which have sold 25 million copies.

The 62 records qualifying for a diamond disc were recorded by 46 acts and five are by the Beatles. The country and western singer Garth Brooks comes close behind with four of his records eligible for a diamond disc. Elvis doesn't make it onto the list but Jon Bon Jovi and the Backstreet Boys do.

The only single eligible for a diamond disc is Elton John's Candle in the Wind, the tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales, which sold 11 million copies.

The Record Industry Association of America presented crystal trophies representing the diamond discs at a ceremony in New York this week attended by Billy Joel, whose Greatest Hits Volume I & II made the 10 million sales list. Also there for awards were Elton John, Kenny Rogers and Whitney Houston.

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