Drummers rarely enjoy the same level of fame as a lead vocalist or guitarist, but as the ones setting the pace, their contributions are enough to make or break even the greatest of bands. Talent and wealth aren’t always correlated (keen-eyed music enthusiasts will notice the conspicuous absence of such drumming legends as Ginger Baker and John Bonham from our list) but sometimes, the two collide… as they do frequently on our round-up of the 20 richest drummers of all time.
20. Travis Barker – Net Worth: $45 Million
First up we have Travis Barker, a musician and reality TV personality who came to prominence as the drummer for the pop-punk band Blink 182 but has since collaborated with numerous hip hop artists, founded the rock bands +44 and Box Car Race, and performed with Antemasque, Goldfinger, and the rap-rock group Transplants. In recent years, Barker has begun to dabble in ventures outside of music, founding a clothing company, Famous Stars and Straps, and releasing the memoir, Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death, and Drums, Drums, Drums. According to the latest estimate, Barker is believed to be worth in the region of $45 million.
19. Tre Cool – Net Worth: $50 Million
Up next we have Tre Cool (or, to give him his rather more illustrious birth name, Frank Edin Wright III). Tre, or should we say, Frank, rose to fame after being recruited by punk rock band Green Day as a replacement for their original drummer, John Kiffmeyer. In 1994, Tre’s decision to drop out of high school to concentrate on the band was well and truly validated when Green Day’s sophomore album, Dookie, turned the band into a worldwide sensation. Dookie went on to sell more than 20 million units worldwide, while Green Day’s follow up albums did little to harm their reputation as one of the biggest selling punk bands of all time. Tre Cool is currently believed to be worth $50 million.
18. Rick Allen – Net Worth: $50 Million
At the age of 16, British drummer Rick Allen began playing with a band. After deciding his future lay in music, he left school and began touring and recording with that self-same group…a unit collectively known as Def Leopard. Nearly 40 years later, Def Leopard is recognized as one of the world’s bestselling bands of all time, having sold more than 100 million albums worldwide. Allen, meanwhile, is widely considered one of the most talented drummers of the last century, despite losing one of his arms to infection in the mid-1980s. “The Thunder God “(as he’s known to his fans) is currently worth around $50 million.
17. Jon Fishman – Net Worth: $65 Million
Jon Fishman has achieved the robust net worth of $65 million thanks to his activities with Phish, a band he and his college buddy Mike Gordon founded at the University of Vermont. As part of Phish, Fishman has released 16 studio albums, 12 live albums, and one compilation album, while his outside ventures (which include working with Pork Tornado and the Jazz Mandolin Project, as well as touring with the Vermont-based comedy troupe Touchpants) has done little to harm either his reputation or his fortunes.
16. Carter Beauford – Net Worth: $65 Million
Drummer, percussionist, and composer Carter Beauford has collaborated with numerous artists over the years, but he’s best known as one of the members of the hugely successful Dave Matthews Band. As part of the collective, Beauford has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide (with 6 of those debuting at the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart). Current estimates suggest his net worth lies in the region of $65 million.
15. Bill Ward – Net Worth: $65 Million
In the late 1960s, Bill Ward and Tony Iommi left the band Mythology (with whom they’d already enjoyed some moderate success) to join Ozzy Osbourne and Geezer Butler in the newly formed band, Black Sabbath. Apart from a brief period in the 1990s when he was forced to withdraw from performing after a heart attack, Ward has been playing with the band ever since. He also hosts a monthly radio show called “Rock 50”. As of 2019, Ward is believed to be worth $65 Million.
14. Tommy Lee – Net Worth: $70 Million
As the founder and drummer of the heavy metal band Motley Crue, Tommy Lee has achieved a considerable net worth of $70 million. His very public personal life meanwhile (not least his short-lived marriage to Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson) has led to the reality TV series Tommy Lee Goes to College and a level of notoriety and fame few other drummers can rival. Lee’s current net worth is believed to be around $70 million.
13. Stewart Copeland – Net Worth: $80 Million
At number 13 is Stuart Copeland, an English musician best known for his activities with the multi-million selling band, The Police. While Copeland may not be quite the household name his fellow bandmember Sting is, his numerous activities both inside and outside the band (which extend to releasing several singles under the name Clark Kent, as well as becoming a successful soundtrack composer) have still managed to net him the very healthy net worth of $80 Million.
12. Chad Smith – Net Worth: $90 Million
After graduating high school, Chad Smith set his sights on achieving a successful career as a musician; with $90 million to his name, it’s fair to see he’s met his goal. In 1988, he auditioned for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a band that had already released 3 albums but had recently lost their drummer. A year later, the Peppers went stratospheric with the release of their fourth studio album, Mother’s Milk. 20 years on, they’ve sold more than 80 million albums worldwide and cemented their status as one of the world’s biggest rock bands with their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
11. Alex Van Halen – Net Worth: $95 Million
In 1974, Dutch-born American drummer Alex Van Halen formed the now legendary rock band Van Halen alongside his brother, Eddie, and bandmates, David Lee Roth and Michael Anthony. Since then, the band has sold over 80 million albums worldwide, achieved more Billboard Hot 100 hits than any other hard rock band, and, in 2008, became the highest-paid live act in the world. The band’s namesake drummer (who strangely enough also happens to be an ordained minister), is worth a mammoth $95 million.
10. Joey Kramer – Net Worth: $100 Million
Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer comes in next with the giant net worth of $100 million. His role in the band’s success hasn’t simply been limited to banging out the rhythm; in addition to coming up with the band’s name, he’s also contributed to the writing of some of their biggest hits, most notably the track “Pandora’s Box” from their second album, Get Your Wings. In addition to his activities with the band, Kramer has also ventured into business, launching a whole bean, organic coffee line called Rockin’ & Roastin’ Coffee in partnership with Comfort Foods, Inc.
9. Nick Mason – Net Worth: $150 Million
As the only remaining member of the original Pink Floyd line up, Nick Mason occupies a well-deserved place in any line up of living rock legends. The 75-year-old musician has drummed on every Pink Floyd album ever released, as well as penning a number of their biggest hits (including the singles “Echoes” and “Time”). An astute businessman, Mason has invested his earnings from the band into several successful companies, which has done little to dent his mammoth net worth of $150 million.
8. Charlie Watts – Net Worth: $200 Million
Thanks to his long career with arguably the most successful rock and roll band of all time, The Rolling Stones, drummer Charlie Watts is worth the giant sum of $200 million. Despite being known as the “quiet one” of the band, Watts’ skills have earned him a worldwide reputation as one of rock’s greatest ever drummers, with Rolling Stone placing him at number 12 on their list of the “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time” and bandmate Keith Richards praising him with, “When we got Charlie, that really made it for us.” “Charlie can rush like mad and still make it feel great. That’s his style”.
7. Don Henley – Net Worth: $200 Million
As one of the founding members of the American rock band, The Eagles, Don Henley has enjoyed a career that spans 5 decades and 120 million album sales. In addition to acting as the band’s primary drummer, Henley also takes lead vocals, lending his talents to such best selling singles as “Hotel California”, “Witchy Woman”, “Desperado”, and “Best of my Love”. Outside of The Eagles, he’s experienced huge success as a prolific solo artist, releasing 4 solo albums, two compilation albums, and a host of hit singles that include “Dirty Laundry”, “New York Minute”, “The End of the Innocence”, “All She Wants to Do Is Dance”, “The Boys of Summer”, “Sunset Grill”, “The Last Worthless Evening”, and “Not Enough Love in the World”. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Henley is currently worth a very impressive $200 million.
6. Roger Taylor – Net Worth: $200 Million
Multi-instrumentalist Roger Taylor may be best known as the drummer for the seminal 1980s group Queen, but he’s also enjoyed a hugely successful career outside of the band, performing with everyone from Eric Clapton and Phil Collins to Foo Fighters and Bon Jovi. His work with Queen, meanwhile, extends to writing six of their biggest hits, including “Radio Ga Ga”, “These Are the Days of Lives”, “A King of Magic”, and “The Invisible Man”, and lending his vocals to several of their albums. In 1999, Taylor cemented his national treasure status when he became the first living non-Royal Family member to appear on a Royal Mail stamp. 20 years on, he’s worth a highly respectable $200 million.
5. Phil Collins – Net Worth: $260 Million
These days, he’s best known as a solo artist, but before he became a household name with hits like “In the Air Tonight”, Phil Collins was laying grooves down for the likes of jazz fusion collective Brand X and the Peter Gabriel-led lineup of Genesis. His discography as a solo artist, meanwhile, extends to eight studio albums and 150 million worldwide sales; a mammoth achievement that has bestowed him with the equally gigantic mammoth net worth of $260 million.
4. Dave Grohl – Net Worth: $280 Million
Rock’s “Mr. Nice” Dave Grohl first came to international acclaim as the drummer for Nirvana; since the band disbanded in 1994 following the untimely death of lead singer Kurt Cobain, Grohl has continued his role of success as the founder, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and primary songwriter of the rock band Foo Fighters. Described by Ken Micallef, co-author of the book Classic Rock Drummers, as one of the most influential rock musicians of the previous 20 years, Grohl’s prolific career has earned him a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and, as of 2019, a net worth of $280 million.
3. Lars Ulrich – Net Worth: $300 Million
In 2009, Lars Ulrich became the first Dane to ever be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The achievement came off the back of a career that’s seen him became one of the most famous drummers in the world. As one of the founding members of heavy rock band Metallica, Ulrich has released ten studio albums, four live albums, a cover album, and five extended plays, won nine Grammy Awards, sold over 125 million albums worldwide, and earned a place on the list of the most commercially successful bands of all times. He’s also earned the envy-inducing net worth of $300 million.
2. Larry Mullen Jr. – Net Worth: $300 Million
Larry Mullen Jr may not have quite the fortune of his fellow bandmate Bono (who Celebrity Net Worth currently estimates to be worth $700 million), but with $300 million to his name, we doubt he’s in need of too much consolation. In addition to his activities with U2, Mullen has also worked extensively with other artists, forming the band Automatic Baby in 1993 with Michael Stipe and Mike Mills of R.E.M, and creating the theme tune to Mission Impossible in 1996 alongside Adam Clayton. The sum total of his activities has made him the 2nd richest drummer of all time.
1. Ringo Starr – Net Worth: $350 Million
It’ll come as little surprise to learn who occupies the number one position on our poll. As drummer for the world’s most iconic band, The Beatles, Ringo Starr is perhaps the most famous name on our list, and with $350 million behind him, most certainly the richest. After the Beatles disbanded in 1970, Starr began a solo career that may not have reached the same dizzying heights as the one he enjoyed with the band, but which has been no less prolific. To date, he’s released 15 solo albums, toured with numerous incarnations of Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band, and managed the rare feat of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as both a band member and solo artist.