Rock ‘n’ roll used to be synonymous with sex and drugs, but these days, it’s all about the money. 21st Century rockers now rank among the world’s richest, and while some musicians are still living the hedonistic lifestyles of lore, many more are investing their money in sensible (and lucrative) side ventures- see Jimmy Buffet’s hugely successful chain of restaurants as a case in point. Others are using their wealth to prove their philanthropic spirit (see everything Bono has done since the mid ‘80’s as an example). With the net worth of rock’s top earner (spoiler: he’s a Beatle) amounting to a massive $1.2 billion, there’s clearly money to be made from music. To discover just how much, let’s look at 20 of the world’s richest rockstars.
20. Robbie Williams Net Worth – $300 Million
Williams’ decision to leave boy-band Take That in 1995 was controversial at the time, but it’s clearly paid dividends. The British singer- songwriter has achieved massive success as a solo artist and can claim seven UK number 1 singles and ten number 1 studio albums to his name. To date, his only release not to get to UK number 1 is the 2009 album, Reality Killed the Video Star. Over the course of his 29-year career, Williams’ has racked up a record 18 Brit awards (including four gongs for Best British Male, and the 2017 Icon award). Williams was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004, after a vote which saw him win the title of “Greatest Artist of the 1990’s”. The star’s success in America has been somewhat underwhelming, but with over 75 million records sold worldwide, and a net worth of $300 million, we doubt he’s losing too much sleep over it.
19. James Hetfield Net Worth – $300 Million
Best known for his work with heavy metal band Metallica (where his duties include lead vocals, rhythm guitar and songwriting), musician James Hetfield is not just one of the world’s richest rockers, he’s also one of its most acclaimed. In 2009, British author Joel McIver recognized Hetfield’s intricate rhythm playing with the title of 8th “Greatest Metal Guitarist,” while Rolling Stone positions Hetfield as the 87th greatest guitarist of all time. Since its inception, Metallica has grown into one of the most commercially successful music acts of all time, an achievement which has been rewarded with a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the band, and a personal fortune of $300 million for Hetfield.
18. Eric Clapton Net Worth – $300 Million
His early career may have been marred by a prodigious drug habit, domestic disharmony and personal tragedy, but that hasn’t stopped British rocker Eric Clapton accruing an enviable fortune. Born March 1945, Clapton initially achieved fame as a member of such ‘60’s bands as the Yardbirds, Blind Faith and Cream, before going on to forge a successful solo career in the 1970’s. Career highlights include 18 Grammy awards, a Brit award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, and, to top it all, a CBE for services to music. With over 100 million records sold worldwide and a net fortune of $300 million, we doubt Clapton will be shedding too many “Tears in Heaven” over his misspent youth.
17. Dave Matthews Net Worth – $300 Million
South African born David John Mathews is best known as the lead singer, songwriter and guitarist for the hugely popular Dave Matthews Band. The band has seen phenomenal success since its 1991 inception, racking up seven consecutive number 1 albums and, in the first decade of the millennium alone, pulling in more revenue from concerts sales than any other act. In addition to his day job with the band, Mathews has forged a fledgling career as an actor, with credits including a brief appearance in Adams Sandler’s I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, and a more substantial role alongside Sissy Spacek and Ton Garity in Lake City. All in all, Matthews’s ventures have pulled in a very respectable $300 million.
16. Bjorn Ulvaeus Net Worth – $300 Million
When ABBA broke up in 1982, founding member Bjorn Ulvaeus could have retired quite happily on the proceeds of the Swedish super-group’s 380m+ records sales. Instead, he decided to forge ahead as a composer. These days, Ulvaeus can take credit for such smash hit musicals as Chess, Kristina från Duvemåla, and most notably of all, Mamma Mia. Despite two marriages and 4 children, Ulaveous hasn’t lost his entire fortune to alimony; with the royalty checks for ABBA still rolling in, the Swede can claim a healthy net worth of $300 million.
15. Anni- Frid Lyngstad Net Worth – $300 Million
Best known as the “brunet from ABBA”, Anni- Frid Lyngstad’s net worth matches that of fellow band member Bjorn Ulvaeus to the cent. Lyngstad, who started her career as a jazz singer, enjoyed considerable solo success in her native Sweden before achieving international acclaim with ABBA in the 1970’s. Following the band’s split, Lyngstad returned to her solo career, releasing the 1982 album Something’s Going On and 1984’s Shine before retiring from music for good in 1996.
14. Adam Clayton Net Worth – $300 Million
The first member of Irish rock group U2 to make our list is bass guitarist, Adam Clayton. As a founding member of U2, Clayton’s skills on the bass can be heard on all 14 of the band’s studio albums. Fans can also tune in to his talents on the 1996 soundtrack to Mission: Impossible (a joint project with fellow U2 member, Larry Mullen), Robbie Robertson’s self-titled album from 1987, and Steven Van Zandt’s 1999 album, Born Again Savage. The combined result of his multiple ventures is a very healthy net worth of $300 million.
13. Roger Waters Net Worth – $310 Million
Roger Waters clearly has more than one string to his bow; during his career with British rock band, Pink Floyd, he managed to act as their bassist, lyricist, co-lead vocalist and overall creative leader. The success of the band’s string of albums in the 1970’s propelled Walters’ and the rest of the crew to international glory. The fame, however, came with a price: in 1985, Walters quit the band in acrimonious circumstances and launched a legal battle against his former colleagues over use of the Pink Floyd name. After leaving Pink Floyd, Walters’ embarked on a solo career which, despite seeing only limited success, has done little to harm his substantial $310 million fortune.
12. The Edge Net Worth – $340 Million
David Howell Evans (or the Edge, as he’s known to his legions of fans), came to worldwide attention with Irish rock band, U2. As well as racking up 14 hit albums with the band, the Edge can also claim success with 1986’s solo album, Captive, and numerous side projects with the likes of Johnny Cash, Jay-Z, Rihanna and blues legend, B.B. King. His net worth may not be in the same league as band-mate, Bono’s, but with an estimated fortune of $340 million, we doubt his mammy is any the less proud.
11. Keith Richards Net Worth – $340 Million
Having spent the last six decades in one of the world’s biggest rock bands, it’s little wonder Keith Richards has such a healthy bank balance. Ranked 4th best guitarist in the world by Rolling Stone, Richards has strummed, written and sung his way to a $340 million fortune since the band’s inception in 1962. As well as pocketing his share of revenue from the Stone’s album sales and sellout tours, “Keef” has also earned a pretty penny from his three solo albums, frequent collaborations and occasional film work.
10. Ringo Starr Net Worth – $350 Million
The first of the Fab Four to make our list is the voice of Thomas the Tank Engine himself, Ringo Starr. Born Richard Starkey in 1940, Starr co-founded his first band, the Eddie Clayton Skiffle Band, in 1957, but it was his work with another Liverpudlian four-piece that would see him achieve his dream of global super-stardom. Starr joined the Beatles in 1962, and within a few short years, his was one of the most famous names in the world. His subsequent solo career bought in moderate success, while his voice- over work on children’s programs like Thomas & Friends has not only won him a new generation of fans, it’s also helped bag him the title of world’s richest drummer.
9. Gene Simmons Net Worth – $350 Million
In recent years, Israeli- American musician Gene Simmons has become as well known for his offstage antics as for his musical output. In 2017, the Kiss front- man received a lifetime ban from Fox News after gatecrashing a staff meeting, while his comments about Islam, women and mental health have all drawn more than just the occasional frown. Despite his notoriety, Simmons’ has amassed quite the fortune over his 40-year career. As of 2019, his estimated net worth is believed to be in the region of $350.
8. Mick Jagger Net Worth – $360 Million
Singer- songwriter Mick can credit the bulk of his fortune to his day job as lead singer and songwriter of legendary British rock group, the Rolling Stones. In the late 1960’s, Jagger diversified into acting, but his film roles failed to set the screen on fire. Similarly, his solo career never achieved even a modicum of the band’s success. He’s fared slightly better as a filmmaker and producer, but still, it’s his charismatic on-stage presence and drawling vocals that we’ll remember him for. That, and his $360 million bank balance, of course.
7. Sting Net Worth – $400 Million
In 1977, Sting formed new wave rock band the Police; the proceeding years would see him become one of the world’s best-selling artists, an Ivor Novella winner, and an inductee of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Sting’s new age witterings and reputed 8 hour, yoga fueled sex sessions with wife Trudie Styler have raised the odd eyebrow over the years, but with album sales of 350m and a net worth of $400 million, few can dispute the pulling power of his musical output.
6. Jon Bon Jovi Net Worth – $410 Million
Jon Bon Jovi has more than just big hair and a girlish pout to his name. As of 2019, he can also claim the title of 6th richest rocker in the world. The singer- songwriter can thank his 35 years as front man of rock band, Bon Jovi, for his fame and riches… although he may need to thank his genes, rather than his singing, for the title of People’s Sexiest Rock Star of 2000, and VH1 ‘s 13th Sexiest Artist of 2002. While his side career as professional “beautiful person” may not be enough to pay the bills, his day job most certainly is: since its inception in 1983, Bon Jovi have sold more than 350 million albums worldwide, the revenue from which has given Jon Bon Jovi a very handsome net worth of $410.
5. Elton John Net Worth – $500 Million
Elton John may be one of the world biggest spenders (see his court admission of spending more than £40 million in just under two years as proof) but as of 2019, he can also claim to be one its biggest earners. With three hundred million record sales, fifty Top 40 hits, seven consecutive Number 1 albums in the US, twenty-seven top 10 singles, the biggest selling single of all time (1997’s tribute to Princess Diana, Candle in the Wind 1997) and (deep breath), a net worth of $500 million, it’s fair to say John has earned his right to the occasional shopping spree.
4. Bruce Springsteen Net Worth – $500 Million
Bruce Springsteen isn’t called the Boss for nothing. Since his career began in 1964, the singer-songwriter has sold more than 140 million records worldwide, had 11 chart topping albums, won 20 Grammy’s, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and been named one of the world’s best-selling artists. Springsteen’s contribution to music veers from the commercial rock of 1975’s Born to Run and 1984’s Born in the U.S.A, to the somber folk of his later albums. In addition to his successful collaborations with long- standing backing group, the E-Street Band, Springsteen has won critical acclaim for his solo, acoustic offerings (2005’s Devil’s and Dust being a prime example). Six decades after he started shaking his stuff, his energetic stage performances are still drawing in the crowds… a fact that no doubt contributes to his massive $500 fortune.
3. Jimmy Buffet Net Worth – $600 Million
Buffet describes his music as “Drunken Caribbean Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Fans like to call it “Gulf and Western”. His bank manager, on the other hand, is probably more inclined to call it “Profitable”. Since starting his career in 1969, Buffet has won a devoted fan-base (known as “Parrotheads”), 20 million record sales, multiple sell- out tours and three number one best-selling books. When he’s not busy making music, Buffet props up his bank balance with the proceeds of his hugely successful restaurant chains, the Margaritaville Café and Cheeseburger in Paradise. All in all, the total reward for his efforts adds up to a staggering $600 million.
2. Bono Net Worth – $700 Million
Bono, the Irish musician and lead singer of legendary rock band, U2, is as well known for his philanthropy as he is for his music. Over the years, his social activism has included co-founding the charities, DATA, EDUN, the ONE campaign and Product Red, appearing at multiple benefit concerts (Live Aid being the most famous) and contributing to fundraising singles such as Band Aid’s Do They Know it’s Christmas/ Feed the World. His charitable endeavors haven’t gone unnoticed… in 2004, he was awarded the Pablo Neruda International Presidential Medal of Honor from the Government of Chile, and three years later, he was granted a knighthood. Of course, no-one is beyond rebuke, and in Bono’s case, criticism has centered around accusations of turning the pursuit of social justice into “a grand orgy of narcissistic philanthropy.” If Bono needs some time out to reflect on his decisions, we’re sure his personal fortune of $700 million will see him through.
1. Paul McCartney Net Worth – $1.2 Billion
Who else could claim today’s top spot but the man, the legend, the vegetarian Svengali, Sir. Paul McCartney? The “pretty one” from the Beatles ranks as one of the most successful singer- songwriters of all time, and despite it being nearly 40 years since the Fab Four called it quits, he’s still racking up the hits. His 1977 track, Mull of Kintyre, remains one of the bestselling singles of all time in the UK, while his 2018 album, Come On to Me, made it all the way to number 1, knocking young pretender, Eminem, off the top spot in the process. With a knighthood already in the bag, there doesn’t seem much left for McCartney to do but sit back and enjoy his 1.2 billion fortune.