I've been a IT lead since 1978. My first hard drive from Morrow Designs (I think it was a CMI) was 10M and cost $3600. When hard drives were expensive HP and Micropolis ESDI drives routinely lasted for years.
Quantum IDE drives and most Conners lasted forever (always retired for space reasons--not because of failure. Since that time most drives have been reliable except for shipping issues (6 drives would all fail within a week), or problem drives, Quantum LCTs, Maxtor 8s, Seagate 7200.11s with bad firmware etc.
Western Digitals have always been my least favorite drives, not because of higher failure rates, but because most of the failures come without warning because of what we call the click of death. We specialize in low tech data recovery when the data is valuable but the client can't or won't spend $750-3000 to recover data. Our success rate is pretty high except for WDs, Spinpoints, and old Deathstars.
Our stack of old dead drives (because of control boards) has a percentage of WDs, Quantum LCTs, Maxtor 8s and Samsung Spinpoints.
We sell Seagates, but recent history and lack of models concern me. Also all warranty replacements are rebuilts so we don't even bother. If there are WD models that don't tend toward click of death syndrome or all RMAs are not rebuilts--I would love you hear about them.