Three months after Janis Joplin died from a heroin overdose, the biggest album of her career was released. Pearl, which includes Joplin's version of "Me and Bobby McGee," topped the album chart in 1971, and has sold nearly 8 million copies in the years since.
Double Fantasy, John Lennon's most commercially successful solo album, was released three weeks before he was gunned down on Dec. 8, 1980. The album, which features Lennon classics "Just Like Starting Over" and "Woman," went on to win the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1981 and has sold more than three million copies.
Following Kurt Cobain's 1994 suicide, his band Nirvana was awarded another No. 1 album with MTV Unplugged in New York. The live acoustic album was recorded in late 1993 and included the tracks "About a Girl," "All Apologies" and "Come as You Are," as well as covers of the Vaselines and David Bowie. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 1994 and sold five million copies in the next three years.
It was meant to be her English breakthrough album, but Selena, gunned down by her former fan club president, would not live to see Dreaming of You top the Billboard album charts. It has since sold more than 2 million copies.
Fans of the late Tupac Shakur have seen no fewer than nine albums since his death in 1996, all of which debuted in the Top 10. His biggest seller: 2001’s Until The End of Time, which has moved 2.2 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Lisa “Lefteye” Lopez
Seven months after Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes was killed in a car accident in Honduras, surviving group members Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas released TLC's highly anticipated fourth album, 3D. It debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 chart and, within a year, had been certified platinum.
Just weeks after releasing her third studio album, Aaliyah died tragically at 22-years-old in a plane crash having just wrapped filming on her video for "Rock the Boat." The single went on the peak at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, with her following two singles "More than a Woman" and "I Care 4 U" each peaking in the Top 25. The singer also starred in Warner Bros.' Queen of the Damned, released six months after her death. The film grossed more than $45 million at the box office.
A year before Johnny Cash's 2003 death, he had one of his biggest late career hits with a cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt." In 2005, two years after he died at 71, he was still very much in the heart of the American public as that year's Academy Awards would show when Reese Witherspoon won best actress for biopic Walk the Line and the soundtrack won a Grammy. A year later, his final collaborative effort with producer Rick Rubin, American V: A Hundred Highways, debuted atop the Billboard 200.
His second posthumous release, American VI: Ain't No Grave, peaked at No. 3 on the charts in 2010 and sold 54,000 units in its first week.
Many artists experience their biggest sales after death. An example from the last decade: Ray Charles, whose 2004 album Genius Loves Company was released two months after he died, topped the charts and has since sold 3.2 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The 2010 collection Michael bundled together 10 unreleased tracks by Michael Jackson six months after his death and sold 224,910 units its first week out and 518,000 to date.
The late Amy Winehouse's first posthumous release, Lioness: Hidden Treasures, debuted atop the U.K. charts on Tuesday, Dec. 6. The collection features covers and unreleased original tracks, and sold more than 140,000 copies its first day out. Proceeds from the album's sales will benefit the Amy Winehouse Foundation.