Purple reign: Prince has the top two albums on Billboard, decades after release

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Even in death, Prince is still the king. Less than a week after his unexpected passing last Thursday, two of Prince’s albums topped the Billboard 200 album chart for the week ending the day he died, April 21.

The Very Best of Prince, his 2001 compilation album, and Purple Rain, his 1984 masterwork, entered this week’s Billboard 200 album charts at the Nos. 1 and 2 spots, respectively. Prince’s The Very Best of Prince has sold more than 250,000 albums since April 15, according to BillboardPurple Rain has sold more than 150,000 copies.

Prince fans seem to have immediately drowned their sorrow in album purchases, because his music started selling soon after news broke that he had passed away. Since last week’s Billboard charts tabulation ended on the same day Prince died, massive sales were accumulated in 24 hours. He also sold more than 1 million tracks on Thursday, according to sales and streaming tracking service BuzzAngle Music. The three songs which have sold the most since he died include Purple Rain (326,000), When Doves Cry (246,000) and Little Red Corvette (201,000). Sales were likely bolstered by the fact that many older listeners had yet to purchase his music digitally.

Although Prince seemed to exist in an untouchable realm of celebrity cool, selling more than 100 million records to adoring fans across the globe, he did so slowly over time. The Very Best of Prince is only his fifth No. 1 album. It is also his first No. 1 album since 2006’s 3121The Very Best of Prince peaked at No. 66 on the charts when it was originally released in 2001, before shooting up to to the top of the chart this past week.

If this sales trend continues, Prince could find more of his albums in Billboard’s top albums next week, the first full week since his passing.

Updated on 4-26-2016 by Parker Hall: Updated to reflect new data from Nielsen and Billboard.

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