Greatest Hits is a compilation album by the British rock band Queen, released worldwide on 26 October 1981.[4] The album consisted of Queen's best-selling singles since their first chart appearance in 1974 with "Seven Seas of Rhye", up to their 1980 hit "Flash" (though in some countries "Under Pressure", the band's 1981 chart-topper with David Bowie, was included). There was no universal track listing or cover art for the album, and each territory's tracks were dependent on what singles had been released there and which were successful.

Greatest Hits was an instant success, peaking at number one on the UK Album Chart for four weeks. As of October 2019, it has spent 868 weeks in the UK Charts, and is the best-selling album of all time in the UK, selling over 6 million copies there.[5][6][7][8] It is certified 8x Platinum in the US, and is Queen's most commercially successful album worldwide with over 25 million copies sold, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time.[9][10]

Contents Edit


  • 1 History
  • 2 Commercial performance
  • 3 Track listing
  • 4 Charts
  • 5 Certifications
  • 6 Release history
  • 7 See also
  • 8 Notes
  • 9 External links

History[edit] Edit

There was no universal track listing or cover art for the Greatest Hits album, and each territory's tracks were dependent on what singles were released there and what tracks charted. In some cases, despite the band's popularity, not enough songs were issued as singles to fill a compilation album, and a few album tracks were used as filler. Some examples of these were "Sweet Lady" and "Love of My Life", neither was released as a single in any country, but appear on some regions' 1981 Hits release. In the UK and the U.S., where solid numbers could be collected, the standard was raised again by only including top 20 hits.

The U.S. ended up with its original edit of Queen's first single release, "Keep Yourself Alive", which had been re-released in the U.S. in 1975 (original release was 1973) after the success of "Bohemian Rhapsody". Also, because of the delay in release dates between the UK (out first) and the U.S. (almost a month later), the U.S. was able to add "Under Pressure" (Queen's duet with David Bowie) to its Hits collection, as it was released during that interim.

In Argentina and Brazil, the LP edition included the same list of UK Greatest Hits minus "Seven Seas of Rhye", and including "Love of My Life" (Live Killers version). CD version is the same as the British.

In 1991, Queen sought to issue a second Greatest Hits collection worldwide, this time with a standard track listing. However, the band had just changed record labels in the US, from Capitol to Hollywood Records, who were keen on a massive promotion of the band's back catalogue. The problem was that Elektra still held the US rights to that first 1981 collection (despite being Hollywood's US licencée). Hollywood Records decided to not release Greatest Hits II to the U.S. market, but instead created their own collection, Classic Queen (1992), peaking at no. 4.[11] This compilation was made up of tracks such as "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Keep Yourself Alive" and "Under Pressure" (which had already appeared on the Elektra 1981 Hits collection) as well as newer tracks ("A Kind of Magic" and "Radio Ga Ga").[12] Some tracks were not even singles in the U.S. ("One Year of Love") or anywhere ("Stone Cold Crazy").[12] Though well received, this collection would eventually pose the problem of overlapping track lists in the future.

Hollywood Records, later that year, re-released a companion collection Greatest Hits with similar artwork (on a red background, where Classic Queen was on royal blue). Commonly referred to as the Red Greatest Hits, it features most of the '70s tracks absent from Classic Queen (including "Another One Bites the Dust" [1980], "We Will Rock You", "We Are the Champions" and "Killer Queen").

In 2004, to promote the Las Vegas production of the musical We Will Rock You, Hollywood Records released Greatest Hits: We Will Rock You Edition which was the UKGreatest Hits with three bonus tracks.

Commercial performance[edit] Edit

In 2014, Greatest Hits became the first album in the United Kingdom to sell over six million copies.[8]

In the United States, the album has sold eight million copies, making it the band's best-selling album there.[8]

Track listing[edit] Edit

This section includes the track listings for the original Greatest Hits in its various forms. For other compilations, including the second and third Greatest Hits albums, see the relevant articles. On the 17-track UK editions, Freddie Mercury wrote ten songs, Brian May wrote five and John Deacon wrote two. Roger Taylor had not written any singles for the group at that time.

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Bohemian Rhapsody" (from A Night at the Opera, 1975) Freddie Mercury 5:56
2. "Another One Bites the Dust" (from The Game, 1980) John Deacon 3:36
3. "Killer Queen" (from Sheer Heart Attack, 1974) Mercury 2:57
4. "Fat Bottomed Girls" (single version, from Jazz, 1978) Brian May 3:16
5. "Bicycle Race" (from Jazz, 1978) Mercury 3:01
6. "You're My Best Friend" (from A Night at the Opera, 1975) Deacon 2:52
7. "Don't Stop Me Now" (from Jazz, 1978) Mercury 3:29
8. "Save Me" (Single Version on 1981 Release only, from The Game, 1980) May 3:52
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
9. "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" (from The Game, 1980) Mercury 2:42
10. "Somebody to Love" (from A Day at the Races, 1976) Mercury 4:56
11. "Now I'm Here" (from Sheer Heart Attack, 1974) May 4:10
12. "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy" (from A Day at the Races, 1976) Mercury 2:54
13. "Play the Game" (from The Game, 1980) Mercury 3:33
14. "Flash" (single version, from Flash Gordon, 1980) May 2:48
15. "Seven Seas of Rhye" (from Queen II, 1974) Mercury 2:47
16. "We Will Rock You" (from News of the World, 1977) May 2:01
17. "We Are the Champions" (from News of the World, 1977) Mercury 2:59
Total length: 57:20
[show]1981 U.S. and Canada edition
[show]1981 Japan edition
[show]1992 U.S. edition (Hollywood Records)

Has a red cover with the Queen crest design.

[show]2004 U.S. edition (Greatest Hits: We Will Rock You)

Same track listing as UK 1981 edition, followed by three additional tracks.

[show]2011 Japan Reissue Edition

From the bonus track for Japan, available on iTunes.

In addition to the variations above, the official biography Queen: As It Began by Jacky Gunn and Jim Jenkins states the following variations on the original UK track listing:

Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela had Love Of My Life (live) instead of Seven Seas Of Rhye.

Belgium and Spain had Spread Your Wings as an extra track.

Australia was identical to the U.S. version, but had Tie Your Mother Down as an extra track. Bulgaria had Death On Two Legs and Sweet Lady as extra tracks.

Australia, Canada, Germany, Israel and Netherlands had Under Pressure as an extra track.

Charts[edit] Edit

Chart (1981) Peak


Austrian Top 75 Albums[13] 1
German Albums Chart[14] 1
Netherlands Top 100 Albums[15] 1
New Zealand Top 40 Albums[16] 1
UK Albums Chart[17] 1
Chart (1982) Peak


Norwegian Top 40 Albums[18] 21
Chart (1992) Peak


Australian Top 50 Albums[19] 8
Canadian Top Albums[20] 4
French Compilations[21] 5
Hungarian Top 40 Albums[22] 12
Swedish Top 60 Albums[23] 21
Swiss Top 100 Albums[24] 5
US Billboard 200[25] 11
Chart (2004) Peak


US Catalog Albums[25] 2
Chart (2007) Peak


US Hard Rock Albums[25] 5
Chart (2008) Peak


Spanish Top 100 Albums[26] 63
Chart (2011) Peak


Belgium (Wallonia) 100 Albums[27] 78
French Top 200 Albums[28] 56
Mexican Top 100 Albums[29] 53
Preceded by

Shaky by Shakin' Stevens

UK Albums Chart number one album

14 November 1981 – 11 December 1981

Succeeded by

Chart Hits '81 by Various Artists

Certifications[edit] Edit

Region Certification Sales/shipments Argentina (CAPIF)[30] 3× Platinum 180,000x
Australia (ARIA)[31] 15× Platinum 1,050,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[32] 4× Platinum 200,000x
Brazil (ABPD)[33] Platinum 250,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[34] 3× Platinum 300,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[35] Platinum 55,058[35]
Germany (BVMI)[36] 7× Gold 1,750,000^
Sweden (GLF)[37] Gold 50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[38] 5× Platinum 250,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[39] 11× Platinum 6,000,000[8]
United States (RIAA)[40] 8× Platinum 8,000,000[8]
*sales figures based on certification alone

^shipments figures based on certification alone xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit] Edit

Date Region Label Format Catalog number
26 October 1981 United Kingdom EMI/Parlophone LP EMTV 30
3 November 1981 United States Elektra LP 5E-564
15 September 1992 United States Hollywood CD 61265
17 August 2004 United States Hollywood CD 2061-62465-2
3 January 2011 United Kingdom Island CD 2758364
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