As expected, sales of the re-written and re-recorded "Candle in the Wind," Elton John's
tribute single for his friend, the late Diana, Princess of Wales, have
gone through the roof in Britain.
The single is estimated to have sold 600,000 copies on Saturday
alone, which was its first day of release, according to a Reuters
report. Advance sales of the song, which was originally written to honor
Marilyn Monroe, came in at 1.5 million copies. "Candle in the Wind" is
expected to become the United Kingdom's fastest-selling record ever, and
some are predicting that it will top sales for the country's
biggest-selling song, Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?"
The U.S. release date for the single, which was produced by former Beatles producer George Martin, has been delayed a week until Sept. 23.
John performed the new "Candle in the Wind" at Diana's funeral just a week
before the song went on sale. Up to 1,000 workers signed up for an extra
shift at Mercury Records' pressing plant in northern England to get the
single in stores by Saturday.
The track is expected to generate $16 million for the Princess Diana of
Wales Memorial Fund, and the British government has even pledged to forego
tax on the single to ensure the maximum amount of money gets to the charity.
London's Sunday Times reported that the first 250,000 copies of
"Candle in the Wind" were sold in just four hours. Angelita Ravizzoli,
assistant manager for the Tower Records at Piccadilly Circus told the
Times, "It's the fastest-selling single we've ever had. There's
been no comparison. We sold 1,000 of these in an hour."
While some stores limited sales for each customer, others allowed unlimited
purchases. A security guard named David Giles traveled to London from
Oxford specifically for the single. "We are buying eight or nine copies
for family members," he told the Times, "and one which won't be
played, as a keepsake, a collector's item."
The single will be followed by an all-star tribute album, scheduled to
feature R.E.M., the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney, due in time for Christmas. -- Chris Nelson [Mon., Sept. 15, 1997, 9 a.m. PST]