The 1960s changed music. Before the decade, record companies knew how to sell musical artists nationally to some degree, but not internationally. That would all change in the '60s.
The way records were made changed as well. There was better equipment and better studios so the records just sounded better. And the buying public gobbled up a lot of vinyl.
But who were the best-selling artists of the decade? The top artist likely will be no surprise. But number four might shock you a bit. For the record sales below, I used Chart Masters who do a pretty great job of confirming record sales the best they can.
Top five selling musical artists of the 1960s
No. 5 - Bob Dylan (72,934,000 record sales)
Dylan released nine studio albums in the 1960s beginning with his self-titled debut on March 19, 1962. The album didn't chart in the United States (but somehow peaked at number 39 in Germany). While the importance of Bob Dylan didn't always equate to record sales, he really took off commercially with his fifth album, Bringing It All Back Home. That album would be his first top-ten LP in the United States and peaked at number 6.
Dylan was actually more commercially successful in the UK earlier than he was in the US. His second record, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, hit number 1 in England. Dylan wouldn't have a US number 1 until 1974's Planet Waves. But while Dylan would release some extremely important records after the 1960s, such as 1975's Blood on the Tracks, his LPs from the late 1960s changed music.
Beginning in 1965, Dylan released Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, and John Wesley Harding in successive order. All three made the top ten in the US and the UK, but their real value cannot be measured in units sold. The lyrics are genius and the music is amazing. Few artists have had three such great albums in a row.