After Di, the deluge In the wake of Princess Diana’s tragic death, the music industry is left to ponder an unforeseen aspect of her legacy as Di-related product (in particular, Elton John’s ”Candle in the Wind 1997” single) draws people into record stores faster than a new Elvis album from the Great Beyond.
”Candle,” John’s tribute to the late princess, sold a head-spinning 3.4 million copies in its first week of release in the States. (Also flying off the shelves, albeit at a slower pace, is the BBC’s recording of Diana’s funeral service, which London Records released Sept. 30.) Already certified multi-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, ”Candle” is the fastest — and best — selling single in history. ”Not even Michael Jackson in his heyday could have moved numbers like that,” says Billboard’s Theda Sandiford-Waller.
If the industry is getting a shot in the arm from increased retail traffic, John is getting a similar boost; since Di’s funeral, three of his albums have appeared on Billboard’s pop catalog albums chart with a sales bump of more than 250 percent. Remarkably, the success of ”Candle” hasn’t hurt its A side, ”Something About the Way You Look Tonight.” WLTW-FM, New York’s No. 1-rated adult contemporary station, is giving both songs equal time — a decision program director Jim Ryan says was based purely on merit: ”Certainly, [’Something’] wouldn’t have sold 3 million pieces without ‘Candle,’ but it still would’ve been the biggest Elton John single in years.”
Not surprisingly, others are following John’s lead. Come Christmas, expect to see a Diana tribute album featuring, among others, Paul McCartney, Sting, Annie Lennox, Peter Gabriel, George Michael, Phil Collins, Bryan Adams, and Seal. (As with both John’s single and the BBC funeral album, profits from the tribute will go to the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Fund.) But will people still care enough about Diana by then to buy that album? Sandiford-Waller thinks so: ”Especially at that time of the year, all those emotions are going to be renewed. People aren’t going to forget about what happened to her anytime soon.”