PEAK POSITION: Number 1 (5 weeks)
SALES: 5.4m (April 2017)
DATE OF RELEASE: 13th September 1997
DATE IT REACHED 1 MILLION SALES: 17th September 1997
On 31st August 1997 Diana, The Princess Of Wales was killed in a tragic car accident in Paris. Her sad death prompted an incredible outpouring of grief in the UK, the USA and all over the world. Elton John was a close friend of hers and he asked to perform a song at her funeral on the 6th September. (This was, in fact, the only time he has ever publicly performed the song). He decided to perform an updated version of a song he released in 1973 which was originally about Marilyn Monroe. He reworked the lyrics for Princess Diana and it was a fitting tribute.
The song was released to huge demand. It sold 658,000 copies on its first day and over 1.5million by the end of its first week on sale. It, of course, flew straight to Number 1 where it stayed for five weeks. In the process it sold 4.9million copies. This is officially the biggest-selling single in the UK and, in fact, is officially the biggest selling single in the world since records began. All of these sales were in the era of the physical single – downloads weren’t available for a long time afterwards which somehow makes the record even more impressive. It seems unlikely that any single will sell more.
Elton John later had another million seller – his duet with Kiki Dee, ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart‘. He has featured on 7 Number 1 singles (plus Perfect Day by Various Artists).
— bpi music (@bpi_music) April 1, 2017
In August 2017, twenty years after its release, the OCC celebrated Candle In The Wind 1997 with a report which explains that only 27,000 copies have been downloaded since it was made available in 2007, and it has been streamed just 68,000 times since it was made available in 2015. Sales were also reported to be 4.9 million, however, in April 2017 the single was certified 9 times platinum which would mean combined sales of 5.4 million. Strange.
In December 2017 sales were again reported as 4.93 million.