The Beatles have outsold every pop group in the world this year. Sales of more than 20-million albums make them the most successful band since . . . The Beatles.
Three Anthology volumes of out-takes and live recordings shot to No. 1 in the U.S. charts. The Guinness Book of Records had to rewrite its 1996 entry on the group and will have to do so again next year.
"The Beatles in the last 12 months have sold more albums than they ever did in any one year in the '60s," said Anthology publicist Geoff Baker.
"The Beatles have beaten the Beatles. That's not hype. It is true," he said. The third Anthology volume is the 18th No. 1 Beatles album in the United States.
"It is interesting that three guys who stopped recording together in 1970 and one who tragically died in 1980 are now outselling every other artist on the planet," Baker said.
He quashed rumors that Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr would get together for a "Threetles" reunion tour.
"That is absolutely not on. Paul said that the thought of anyone filling John's shoes was nonsense," Baker said. Lennon was shot dead outside his New York apartment in 1980.
The anthology albums have spawned a new generation of Beatle fans. The band's record label, Apple, says four out of every 10 Beatle albums sold this year have been bought by teenagers who were not even born when the group broke up.
The release of the Anthology albums has also boosted sales of the Beatles back catalog, record executives say. Gross record sales, TV rights and video sales will earn about $780-million this year, with most of it going to British record company EMI.
Oasis, leaders of the 1990s British popular music revival, readily acknowledge that the Beatles are a major influence on them.
Baker had great admiration for Oasis, but said their 1996 sales were less than half those achieved by the Beatles.
He said the surviving Beatles were "flattered and delighted" by the reception the albums have had.
"Paul always used to say he was pleased not about the fame and the legends but the songs. He and John hoped and intended they would last. They plainly have."