Grateful Dead rake in a big week on the Billboard charts, thanks to the reissue of its 1970 album American Beauty, as well as its latest Dave’s Picks archival concert album.
The 50th anniversary edition of American Beauty, which was remastered and reissued on Oct. 30 via Grateful Dead/Warner/Rhino, sold 21,000 copies in the U.S. in the week ending Nov. 5, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. That marks the band’s biggest sales week for any album in nearly 25 years. The act last saw an album sell more in the week ending Dec. 24, 1995, when Hundred Year Hall sold 25,000 copies. (All versions of American Beauty are combined for sales tracking and charting purposes.) The reissue of American Beauty is the second Dead album in 2020 to get a 50th anniversary reissue from Rhino, following Workingman’s Dead.
American Beauty debuts on Billboard’s Album Sales chart (dated Nov. 14) at No. 3. It’s one rung ahead of another debuting Grateful Dead title, the from-the-vaults live album Dave’s Picks Vol. 36: Hartford Civic Center, Hartford CT – 3/26 & 3/37/87, which bows at No. 4 with 20,000 copies sold. (Notably, both the 21,000 sales figure for American Beauty and the 20,000 sales start for Dave’s Picks Vol. 36 represent the Dead’s best sales weeks since Dec. 1995.)
“We are incredibly proud of the Grateful Dead’s chart success this week,” says Mark Pinkus, president, Rhino Records and Warner Music Group U.S. Catalog. “This represents extensive efforts for many in the Rhino and Dead world and marks the culmination of a year-long celebration of the 50th anniversaries of two milestone albums that the band released in 1970: Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty. The latter remains my personal favorite and continues to serve as a perfect entry to the Dead’s unparalleled catalog to many new fans as it did for me back in 1983.”
Billboard’s Album Sales chart ranks the top-selling albums of the week based only on traditional album sales. The Album Sales chart’s history dates back to May 25, 1991, the first week Billboard began tabulating charts with electronically monitored piece count information from SoundScan, now Nielsen Music/MRC Data. Pure album sales were the measurement solely utilized by the Billboard 200 albums chart through the list dated Dec. 6, 2014, after which that chart switched to a methodology that blends album sales with track equivalent album units and streaming equivalent album units. For all chart news, follow @billboard and @billboardcharts on both Twitter and Instagram.
American Beauty sold particularly well on vinyl, with 9,000 copies sold on wax. The set stands at No. 1 on the Vinyl Albums chart.
Grateful Dead regularly release solid-selling archival albums and from-the-vaults live recordings. Earlier in 2020, the band saw six albums debut on the Album Sales chart, with their best sales weeks ranging between 6,000 and 19,500.
In 2020, through the week ending Nov. 5, Grateful Dead has sold 248,000 albums across its entire catalog of albums – the 19th most of any act this year. (Taylor Swift has sold the most albums so far in 2020, with 1.34 million.)
The two Grateful Dead albums also make quite the impact on the Billboard 200 chart (which ranks the most popular albums of the week based on multi-metric consumption). American Beauty re-enters at a new peak of No. 19 (surpassing its original peak of No. 30 in 1971) while Dave’s Picks Vol. 36 enters at No. 25. American Beauty marks Grateful Dead’s seventh top 20-charting album.
Recapping the rest of the top 10 on the new Album Sales chart, Ariana Grande’s latest studio album Positions debuts at No. 1 with 42,000 sold, while Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You falls a spot to No. 2 in its second week with 21,000 (down 77%). Sam Smith’s new studio effort Love Goes bows at No. 5 with 18,000 copies.
Two Wrath albums are next, as Busta Rhymes’ new studio release ELE 2: The Wrath of God starts at No. 6 with 17,000 and Mr. Bungle’s The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo hops on at No. 7 with 16,000. Raging Wrath was a hot seller on vinyl, with 8,000 copies sold.
Carrie Underwood’s Christmas album My Gift vaults from No. 16 to No. 8 with 14,000 sold (up 105%) and For King & Country’s new holiday set A Drummer Boy Christmas drums up at No. 9 debut with 12,000 sold.
Gorillaz’s Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez falls 3-10 in its second week on the list with 11,000 sold (down 45%).