Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)
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Their Greatest Hits 1971%E2%80%931975
Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)
Eagles - Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975).jpg
Greatest hits album by the Eagles
ReleasedFebruary 17, 1976
StudioOlympic Studios, London; Island Studios, London; The Record Plant, Los Angeles; Criteria Studios, Miami
the Eagles chronology
One of These Nights
Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)
Hotel California

Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) is the first compilation album by the Eagles, released in 1976. The album contains a selection of songs from the Eagles' first four albums released in the period from the Eagles' formation in 1971 up to 1975. It was the best-selling album of the 20th century in the United States, and it stayed the best-selling album in the U.S. for some years until it was surpassed by Michael Jackson's Thriller after the artist's death in 2009.[1] In August 2018, it regained the title of the U.S.'s biggest-selling album, with a 38× Platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America.

In 2017, it was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant."[2]


Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) comprises nine singles released between 1972 and 1975, plus the album track "Desperado." All of these singles except "Tequila Sunrise" charted in the top 40, with five in the top ten, and "One of These Nights" and "Best of My Love" both topping the singles chart.

The manager of Eagles, Irving Azoff, said: "We decided it was time to put out the first greatest-hits because we had enough hits."[3] However, according to Don Felder, none of the band members had any say in the decision to release the compilation album.[4] The band complained that the album was "nothing more than a ploy by the record company to sell product without having to pay additional production costs".[5]Don Henley was unhappy that songs like "Tequila Sunrise" and "Desperado" were lifted out of the context of the original album in a way that he thought detrimental to the nature, quality and meaning of the music. He said: "All the record company was worried about were their quarterly reports. They didn't give a shit whether the greatest hits album was good or not, they just wanted product."[5] Despite being unhappy with the album's release, the band nevertheless reasoned that it gave them more time to work on the Hotel California album.[6]


The cover of the album is an image of an artwork created by Boyd Elder, also known as "El Chingadero", whose work was also used for the cover of One of These Nights.[7] The work was created from a plastic cast of an eagle skull, which was then painted.[8] The skull was set against a light-blue background made of silver mylar, and the bumpy appearance of the background gave rise to a myth that it was cocaine powder that they were using. Glenn Frey also noticed the resemblance, telling Elder that the background reminded him of "a field of blow" (slang term for cocaine), however the band chose not to debunk the myth.[3] The artist was paid $5,000 for the work.[8]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[9]
Robert Christgau(B)[10]
Rolling Stone5/5 stars[11]

William Ruhlmann of AllMusic thought the songs in the compilations melodic and immediately engaging, and that they have lyrical consistency. He wrote: "... unlike the albums from which they come, these songs make up a collection consistent in mood and identity, which may help explain why Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) works so much better than the band's previous discs and practically makes them redundant. No wonder it was such a big hit out of the box ..."[9]

Commercial performance

Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200 album chart on its first week of release,[12] and reached number one in the following week, where it stayed for five weeks.[13][14] It was ranked number four on the Billboard year-end album chart of 1976 and has spent a total of 239 weeks on the Billboard 200 as of August 2018.[15][16] The album has also been number one on the Billboard Top Pop Catalog Albums chart for 15 non-consecutive weeks and has spent 465 weeks on the chart.[16]

The album has the distinction of being the first album to receive the RIAA platinum award, which was introduced in 1976 to recognize albums that shipped one million copies in the United States.[17][18] It received its certification on February 24, 1976, a week after its release. In August 1990 it was certified 12×platinum, and it then became the best-selling album of the 20th century in the United States when it was certified 26× platinum on November 10, 1999.[19][20] In a 2001 radio interview, Randy Meisner said neither he nor Bernie Leadon were notified of the award presented to the band in 1999, and "...had to call and we finally received it."[21] It was certified 29x Multi-Platinum on January 30, 2006. According Nielsen Soundscan, which started collecting sales data in 1991, Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) sold just over 5 million albums in the United States since 1991, although RIAA certifications indicate 17 millions albums shipped between 1990 and 2006.[22][23][24] On August 20, 2018, the album was certified 38x platinum by the RIAA for 38 million units consumed in the United States under the new system that tallies album and track sales as well as streams. Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) became the highest-certified album by the RIAA, surpassing Michael Jackson's Thriller which is certified 33x multi-platinum.[25]

Worldwide, the album has sold over 42 million copies as of 2011.[1][26]

Track listing

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Take It Easy" (from Eagles, 1972)Frey3:29
2."Witchy Woman" (from Eagles, 1972)Henley4:10
3."Lyin' Eyes" (from One of These Nights, 1975)
  • Don Henley
  • Glenn Frey
4."Already Gone" (from On the Border, 1974)
5."Desperado" (from Desperado, 1973)
  • Don Henley
  • Glenn Frey
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."One of These Nights" (from One of These Nights)
  • Don Henley
  • Glenn Frey
2."Tequila Sunrise" (from Desperado)
  • Don Henley
  • Glenn Frey
3."Take It to the Limit" (from One of These Nights)
4."Peaceful Easy Feeling" (from Eagles)Jack TempchinFrey4:16
5."Best of My Love" (from On the Border)





Chart (1976) Peak
Canadian RPM Albums Chart[28] 1
New Zealand Albums Chart[29] 2
Norway (VG-lista)[30] 8
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[31] 31
UK Albums (OCC)[32] 2
US Billboard 200[33] 1


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[34] 8× Platinum 560,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[35] 2× Diamond 2,000,000^
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[36] Platinum 20,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[37] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[20] 38× Platinum 38,000,000double-dagger

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

See also


  1. ^ a b Anderson, Kyle (July 20, 2009). "Michael Jackson's Thriller Set to Become Top-Selling Album of All Time". MTV. Viacom.
  2. ^ "National Recording Registry Picks Are "Over the Rainbow"". Library of Congress. March 29, 2016. Retrieved 2016.
  3. ^ a b Steve Knopper (January 20, 2016). "How the Eagles' 'Greatest Hits' Invented a New Kind of Blockbuster". Rolling Stone.
  4. ^ "How The Eagles took it to the limits". Archived from the original on July 18, 2008. Retrieved .. The Times (London). October 12, 2007
  5. ^ a b Eliot, Marc (2004). To the Limit: The Untold Story of the Eagles. Da Capo Press. pp. 140-141. ISBN 978-0-306-81398-6.
  6. ^ Browne, David (June 10, 2016). "Eagles' Complete Discography: Don Henley Looks Back". Rolling Stone.
  7. ^ Stephen K. Peeples (March 31, 2015). "Boyd Elder: Encounters of the Southwestern Kind, 1978".
  8. ^ a b Michael Corcoran (February 10, 2016). "Respect Boyd Elder, Valentine, Texas' Greatest Hit". Lone Star Music Magazine.
  9. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. "Eagles - Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975". AllMusic.
  10. ^ Christgau, Robert. "The Eagles".
  11. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian David (2004). Eagles. Simon and Schuster. Archived from the original on February 28, 2013. Retrieved 2012.
  12. ^ "Billboard 200". Billboard. March 6, 1976.
  13. ^ "Billboard 200". Billboard. March 13, 1976.
  14. ^ Michael Gallucci (February 17, 2016). "40 Years Ago: Eagles Become the First Band to Go Platinum With 'Their Greatest Hits'". Ultimate Classic Rock.
  15. ^ "Album". Billboard. December 25, 1976.
  16. ^ a b "Eagles". Billboard. Retrieved 2018.
  17. ^ Grein, Paul (Nov 30, 2012). "Chart Watch Extra: Where "Thriller" Ranks". Chart Watch. Yahoo Music. Retrieved 2012.
  18. ^ Michael Campbell, James Brody (2008). Rock and Roll: An Introduction (2nd ed.). Thomson Schirmer. p. 308. ISBN 978-1-111-79453-8.
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b "American album certifications - Eagles - Eagles/Their Greatest Hits". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2018.If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.
  21. ^ "Randy Meisner of the Eagles Interview : Smooth Jazz Now Radio Streaming Live". Archived from the original on 2011-01-11. Retrieved .
  22. ^ "On SoundScan and Music Celebrity". Shallow Rewards. December 2, 2015.
  23. ^ ""Thriller" sales soar close to Eagles' "Hits"". Reuters. July 19, 2009.
  24. ^
  25. ^ Associated Press (August 20, 2018). "RIAA: Eagles' Greatest Hits Certified 38x Platinum, Passing 'Thriller'". Billboard.
  26. ^ "Rocking Like a Bat out of Hell for 35 Years... And Counting". Billboard. November 26, 2011.
  27. ^ "Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 - Eagles | Credits". AllMusic. 1976-02-17. Retrieved .
  28. ^ "RPM Top Albums". RPM. 25 (5). May 1976. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 23, 2012. Retrieved 2011.
  29. ^ " - Eagles - Their Greatest Hits". Mega Album Top 100. Hung Medien / Retrieved 2011.
  30. ^ " - Ealges - Their Greatest Hits". VG-lista. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2011.
  31. ^ " - Eagles - Their Greatest Hits". Albums Top 60. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2011.
  32. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  33. ^ "Eagles Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard.
  34. ^ "ARIA Charts - Accreditations - 2008 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 2012.
  35. ^ "Canadian album certifications - Eagles - Greatest Hits 1971-1975". Music Canada. Retrieved 2012.
  36. ^ "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award - 1979". IFPI Hong Kong. Retrieved 2018.
  37. ^ "British album certifications - Eagles - Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2011.Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

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