Aaliyah Album Sales Rise 41 Percent This Week

By | August 30, 2001 at 12:00 AM

Album sales for R&B singer Aaliyah rose 41 percent last week, reflecting a surge of interest in the 22-year-old performer following her death in a plane crash this past weekend, statistics showed Wednesday.

Music retail tracking firm SoundScan’s album charts for the week ended Aug. 26 showed sales of her latest album, “Aaliyah,” had grown to 62,000 copies, up from 44,000 units the week earlier.

Total sales of “Aaliyah” since its July 10 release reached 509,000 copies as of Aug. 26, putting the disc at No. 19 on the latest Billboard Top 200 chart of pop albums.

Blackground, Aaliyah’s record label, and Virgin Records, which distributes her albums, had no immediate comment on the sales figures.

Music industry officials expect the young star’s death to have a more profound impact in next week’s sales figures, because the latest statistics include only one day of sales following her death. SoundScan tracks sales from early Monday through Sunday night.

Aaliyah was killed on Saturday in a plane crash along with eight others on a Florida-bound charter flight from the Bahamas.

A spike in music sales following the death of a recording artist is not unusual, with posthumous commercial gains realized by such stars as Kurt Cobain, Notorious B.I.G. and Jerry Garcia.

Both new and long-time fans were buying Aaliyah’s albums, including many who had just heard of her for the first time this week in news accounts, according to music store retailers across the country.

Aaliyah was the latest in a long line of well-known music figures to die in plane crashes, including bandleader Glenn Miller, rock ‘n’ roll stars Buddy Holly, J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson and Ritchie Valens, John Denver and soul singer Otis Redding.

Aaliyah sold a million copies of her debut album “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number” in 1994, and more recently the single “Try Again” became a big hit.

Just last month, she released her third album, “Aaliyah,” and one of her latest projects was to have been an appearance in a sequel to the cult movie “The Matrix.”

Aaliyah was born in Brooklyn, New York, but moved to Detroit when she was 5. She began performing at an early age and by the time she was 11 she was singing in Las Vegas with the legendary Gladys Knight troupe.

After her teen-age album success in 1994, Aaliyah embarked on a tour that took her to Europe, Japan and South Africa.

Her film debut came opposite Chinese martial arts legend Jet Li in the hip and violent “Romeo Must Die.”

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