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Rare Poster Signed By 23 Artists Spotlights 1999 Debut Of RIAA Diamond Award

Posted by James Duncan on

On March 16, 1999 the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the organization that issues Gold, Platinum and other music sales certifications, held a special ceremony in New York City. The affair was organized to celebrate the launch of the organization's brand new RIAA Diamond Award program, designed to recognize albums which have achieved the milestone of selling 10 million copies or more in the U.S.

The RIAA created a special poster to celebrate the launch of this new award. It features photos of all 63 albums that had reached Diamond sales at that point. A rarified group indeed, with classic albums from the literal who's who of pop, rock, rap, and R&B music. This close-up of the poster shows the 63 albums:

RIAA Diamond Award launch poster

All 63 artists were invited and many of the illustrious group showed up, one might even say surprisingly, given the list included such heavyweights as Boston, Boyz II Men, Def Leppard, Guns N Roses, Billy Joel, Elton John, Journey, Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top and many more.

While backstage at the event some artists managed to acquire autographs from their fellow RIAA Diamond Award honorees. Those doing this included ZZ Top's late bassist Dusty Hill, a well-known collector of memorabilia, who got many of the artists present to sign his personal copy of the poster. Of course, ZZ Top themselves were honored with a RIAA Diamond Award for their 1983 Eliminator album.

Check out this three minute video time capsule from that day that shows some of the artists arriving and speaking at the event, including James Hetfield, Billy Joel, Elton John, Kenny G, Jason Newsted, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, and Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, and Frank Beard of ZZ Top:

MusicGoldmine recently managed to acquire Dusty's personal poster that he got signed by 23 of the artists present that night:

RIAA Diamond Award poster signed by 23 artists

Autographs on the poster, all of which have been certified authentic by Beckett Authentication Services (BAS), include:

Brad Delp (RIP) and Tom Scholz of Boston

Shawn Stockman, Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris and Michael McCary of Boyz II Men

Rick Allen, Phil Collen & Joe Elliott of Def Leppard

Elton John

Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon of Journey

Kenny G

John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page, and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin

MC Hammer

James Hetfield and Jason Newsted of Metallica

Steven Adler of Guns N Roses.

Some of the artists signed next to the album image on the poster, like this with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones choosing the spot next to album cover image of their classic release Led Zeppelin IV:

Led Zeppelin Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones autographs

You can see close up photos and details of this ultra rare, one-of-a-kind multi-signed poster, which is now being offered for sale here.

As to the new Diamond Award the RIAA developed to present to the artists, it was designed by renowned crystal designer Peter Wayne Yenawine. Yenawine was a master designer at Steuben Glass who was commissioned by the last five U.S. Presidents to create gifts. The award is topped with a diamond-shaped, 728 caret crystal placed in a faceted sterling silver setting. You can see more photos of this example presented to Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones for their Hot Rocks album here:

RIAA Diamond Award for Rolling Stones Hot Rocks to Bill Wyman
RIAA Diamond Award detail

As of the date of this article in 2024, the Beatles is the group that has sold the most albums all time in the U.S. at 183 million, and Garth Brooks the solo artist with the most albums sold, at 162 million. Brooks also holds the record for receiving the most RIAA Diamond Awards at nine, with the Beatles at six.

By 2024 over 100 albums have been certified Diamond by the RIAA, but it certainly would have been fascinating to have been there that night in 1999 when the first 63 were introduced, with all the buzz and excitement that brought much of music's royalty out to celebrate.

MusicGoldmine.com has hundreds of RIAA and other record awards for sale. See our current selection of awards here.

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