The Richest Rock Bands In The World

If you've purchased a concert ticket in the recent past, there's a chance that you winced a little at the hefty price. Tickets aren't cheap and have continuously gone up for several years now. Paste Magazine, for instance, cites concert tickets as costing around $15.13 in 1985 (that's $37.55 in today's money) but escalating to an average of $74.25 as of 2015. The progressive costs of inflation are certainly understandable when you consider that way back in 1964 when The Beatles gave their first concert in America, the median household income was just $6,600. But why should we care about this?

While statistics like this may seem unimportant, in the world of rock bands concert tickets are the artist's own ticket to paradise. Buying albums and CD's is one thing, but tours are how musicians make the majority of their money. Business Insider confirms that bands make the most money not just by touring, but also selling their merchandise at shows and licensing their songs for movies and television, among other things. And while "the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll lifestyle" can be a detriment to a musician's bank account, the more money-savvy artists invest their money in anything from random hobbies to real estate to worthy charities. Here's a look at the world's richest rock bands, and what they do with their money.

AC/DC has sold 22 million albums to date

Formed in Australia in 1973, rock's bad boys (original member Angus Young still wears his school uniform on stage) soon became known worldwide. Young's brother Malcolm, singer Dave Evans, and Harry Vanda made up the original group. There were a few replacements along the path to stardom; the most notable was Bon Scott, the band's chauffeur who replaced Evans early on but drank himself to death in 1980. Fast forward to 2016, many members later, when Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses joined the band for a bit and co-founder Malcolm Young retired, and here was one band whose members seemed to endlessly pass through a spinning revolving door.

Fortunately for the band, AC/DC has been nothing short of resilient. Even after Malcolm Young died in 2017, the band remained together. At last count, the group consists of Angus Young and his nephew Stevie Young, singer Brian Johnson, bass player Cliff Williams, and drummer Phil Rudd, all of whom are veteran players for AC/DC. In 2020, the band produced their 17th album, "Power Up." Rolling Stone called it their best album in 30 years, which explains why the band has sold some 22 million albums in America alone and is still worth a cool $35 million. 

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers fought against rising ticket sales

Tom Petty was 26 years old when the semi-seasoned musician formed Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in 1976. Biography says the band's first album "established the blueprint for success" in the coming years. Notably, Petty is one of only a few artists to rebel against record labels whose contracts indebted their musicians even as album prices rose. Rolling Stone writes that in 1982, Petty refused to release his album, "Hard Promises," until his label agreed to sell it for $8.98 as agreed. Petty's band also worked to keep their concert ticket prices as low as possible, still charging only $65 or so as of 2012. Those efforts paid off, earning Petty 18 Grammy awards for his band and solo projects, as well as a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

Today, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are guessed to be worth some $38 million, and although Petty died in 2017, former Heartbreakers Steve Ferrone and Mike Campbell (who joined Fleetwood Mac in 2019) were discussing whether to regroup and begin performing again as of 2020. Meanwhile, Campbell has produced an album from his own band, the Dirty Knobs.

The Dave Matthews Band supports numerous causes

South Africa-born Dave Matthews is full of surprises. For one thing, he is a self-taught musician who formed his first and only band, the Dave Matthews Band in 1991, according to the group's website. And, says Encyclopedia, all of the original members — Matthews, Stefan Lessard, Carter Beauford, LeRoi Moore and Boyd Tinsley — are still with the band. Their first gig was for a private party in Charlottesville, Virginia, atop a downtown "pink warehouse." Three years later the band released their first album, "Under the Table and Dreaming," which quickly moved up to No. 11 on Billboard's top 200 chart.

Since that first album, the Dave Matthews Band has produced both studio albums and live records. It is notable that the first live album, "Live at Red Rocks," debuted at No. 3 on the charts without any marketing efforts whatsoever, and sold over three millions copies. Today players Jeff Coffin, Tim Reynolds, and Rashawn Ross have been added to the band, says Trendrr, which is worth $51 million. Notable too is that the group also supports some 22 charities and foundations, including the band's own Bama which supports at-risk youth and numerous other charitable programs around Charlottesville.

The Eagles are a mainstay of rock in America

In 1972, according to Rock Celebrities, musicians Don Henley and Glen Frey were playing with singer Linda Ronstadt's band when they decided to form a musical group of their own. Two more musicians, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner, joined to form The Eagles, which released its first album that same year. Soon, America was singing along to such epic songs as "Take it Easy" and later, "Hotel California." In 1998, singer Jimmy Buffet inducted the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. By that time, the group consisted of Henley, Frey, Leadon, and Meisner, as well as Joe Walsh, Don Felder, and Timothy B. Schmit.

Following the sad death of Glen Frey in 2016, the Eagles issued a statement that "words can neither describe our sorrow, nor our love and respect for all that he has given to us, his family, the music community and millions of fans worldwide." The Eagles have continued to tour, and Trendrr says the band is worth $60 million. But that surely doesn't count Don Henley's net worth of $250 million, nor Joe Walsh who has some $75 million. Some of their money has gone to Eagles Youth Partnership, which was formed in 1995 as Eagles Charitable Foundation to assist over one million children in the Philadelphia area. A branch of the foundation, Vision to Learn, also provides free eye exams and glasses to children in California.

The Black Eyed Peas signify American hip hop

According to Fandom, performers, (yes that is the spelling of their names), Jaime "Taboo" Gomez, and singer Kim Hill first formed Black Eyed Pods in 1995, but soon changed the name of the band to The Black Eyed Peas. Their first album was produced in 1998, but it wasn't until 2003 (after Hill had been replaced by Fergie) that the group really took off. To date the band has produced nine albums and dozens of singles, selling some 76 million records, says Trenderr. Of those, their 2005 album, "Monkey Business," has gone platinum four times. And there's more.

In 2009, The Black Eyed Peas made music history by remaining No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 20 consecutive weeks in a row, says Hip Hop Wired. Their efforts have awarded them an amazing 15 nominations and six wins at the annual Grammy awards. The band is now worth $61 million, and donates regularly to 17 different charities according to Look to the Stars. The Black Eyed Peas Foundation has played concerts around the world, and a recording of John Lennon's "Power to the People" was released on a tribute album for Amnesty International.

Bon Jovi's Jon Bon Jovi still washes dishes

A native of New Jersey, Jon Bon Jovi was working at his cousin's music studio when he got his first gig at age 17, according to Wealthy Gorilla. In 1983 he formed his own band, Bon Jovi. Biography notes the band owed its popularity to its own "power ballads, soaring guitar riffs, and well-crafted melodies." By the mid-1980's, Bon Jovi was not only one of the hottest hair bands on stage, but was also among "biggest American rock bands" of the time. And notably, the group had the know-how to change their music to fit audience tastes over time.

Bon Jovi actually once made $200 million alone from just 74 shows, and is now worth some $125 million. The money enabled Jon Bon Jovi to form his own Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation to help feed the hungry in New Jersey, which now has two Soul Kitchen locations. No wonder the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. As for Jon Bon Jovi, he still works at the Soul Kitchen — but washing dishes, not signing autographs. His own net worth is around $410 Million.

Ireland's U2 has millions, and more millions

In 1976, according to All Music, Irish teenager Larry Mullen Jr. posted a note on his school's bulletin board seeking musicians for a band. Four boys answered: Paul Hewson (better known today as Bono), David Evans (now know as The Edge), Adam Clayton, and Dick Evans. After throwing around a handful of names for the band, the boys finally settled on U2, the last idea on the list of potential names. Music Mayhem Magazine notes that although some of the band members "have come and gone" over time, U2 has been incredibly successful.

Let's look at some numbers. The Richest says U2 grossed $1.67 billion in just over 15 years, and another $193 million over the last three years. Their fame got them inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, the same year Time magazine named Bono "Person of the Year." And in 2007, Queen Elizabeth dubbed him a knight. Why? Because Bono, who is worth almost $700 million himself, is a champion of "global charity efforts." Indeed, Bono's main causes are ONE and (RED), which "fight extreme poverty," as well as AIDS. The rest of U2 is worth some $748 million from their tours alone.

Coldplay is not your typical band

Admittedly, Coldplay "doesn't quite fit in" with the average music "landscape," says The Encyclopedia of World Biography. They aren't rock, or bubblegum, or rap, or punk, and that's okay according to guitarist Jon Buckland who, along with Guy Berryman, Will Champion, and Chris Martin, have created a sound quite like no other. These veteran musicians first formed in London in 1996, recorded two albums on their own, and signed with Parlophone Records in 1999. It was their fourth album, 2000's "Parachutes," that shot them to stardom.

Three multi-platinum albums later, Coldplay found themselves playing the Super Bowl in 2016. According to Fuse, the band became a sort of "punchline" even as they shared the stage with Bruno Mars and Beyoncé, the latter still recovering from her 2013 Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction." Undaunted, the band dared to masquerade under the name Los Unidades in 2017, went on to win awards from MTV and the Grammys (with 29 nominations), and have sold over 100 million records all over the world. According to CEO World, these days Coldplay is worth a cool $475 million.

The rise and fall, and rise again, of Aerosmith

Known for their epic harmonies and jamming guitar riffs, Aerosmith's beginnings date back to 1970 when singer Steven Tyler, bassist Tom Hamilton, and guitarists Ray Tabano and Joe Perry formed one of America's hottest rock bands. By 1972 they had their first record deal with Columbia Records, but it was not until 1975 that their third album, "Toys in the Attic," was a major success. And that's when the party started; by the early 1980's the musicians lost a few fans as they fell down a well full of drugs and alcohol. Tyler would later explain that he blew (literally) some $20 million on drugs, even keeping a "medicine cabinet" onstage. "I snorted my Porsche, my plane, and my house," he said in 2011, before going to rehab and getting clean. 

The evolution was bittersweet: The band went on to play Woodstock '94 in 1994, and in 1988 actress Liv Tyler, who was only 11 years old, figured out on her own that Tyler was her father. Nobody seems to have a tab on just how much Aerosmith is worth today, but band members Tyler, Tom Hamilton, Joey Kramer, and Brad Whitford are each worth between $40 and $130 million says Music Mayhem Magazine. The band remains on tour as of 2021. 

Pink Floyd was originally called The Tea Set

You read that right. In 1965, the famous band headed by Roger "Syd" Barrett and Roger Waters (with David Gilmour joining a few years later) were known as The Tea Set when they booked a gig at a Royal Air Force base. To their horror, the musicians discovered there was already a band by that name on the roster, says Far Out magazine. The boys did some quick thinking, grabbing the names of two blues artists, Pinkney "Pink" Anderson and Floyd Council, to form Pink Floyd. And while one of their biggest hits, "Money," points out the evils of cash, the song's 1973 album, "Dark Side of the Moon," sold in excess of 34 million copies. 

Following the epic success of "The Wall" in 1979, Pink Floyd sold nearly 121 million albums across the globe, says Music Mayhem Magazine. The band itself says record sales are now around 250 million, and their "collective net worth" remains at over $800 million. Only Roger Waters, who is worth $310 million alone according to Wealthy Gorilla, continues to tour. Look to the Stars says that he also contributes a portion of his earnings to 10 charities dedicated to some 17 causes, from needy children to conservation to Peace One Day. Most recently Gilmour opted not to license "We Don't Need No Education" to Mark Zukerberg, calling him an "idiot."

The Rolling Stones are the longest performing band ever

If the popular meme "We need to start worrying about what kind of world we are going to leave for Keith Richards" seems unkind, it's not meant to be. It's just that the musician and his band mate, Mick Jagger, were both born in 1943 and are still rocking. Along with drummer Charlie Watts, the threesome are the foundation of the Rolling Stones, which writer Shelly Schwartz says is "the longest-performing rock band of all time." Formed in 1962, the British group first stormed America in 1964 and remain one of the most familiar names in music today.

Over time, the Rolling Stones have weathered drug charges, concert violence, member deaths and more. But they also have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, won a Grammy, and watched Jagger get knighted in 2003. And let's not forget some 99.3 million record sales worldwide that make the group worth over $900 million. The band is still touring and pulling in over $800,000 per month according to Latest Celebrity Net Worth. And if you watch the ticker on the website, you can see exactly how much the band makes, every single minute, every single day.

Metallica defined heavy metal thrash

All Music's Stephen Thomas Erlewine writes that drummer Lars Ulrich formed Los Angeles' Metallica in 1981, and was soon joined by bass player Ron McGovney, singer/guitar player James Hetfield, and lead guitar player Dave Mustaine. The band quickly drafted "the blueprint for thrash metal" while "pushing the boundaries of mainstream metal." After one self-released album in 1982, the band has signed with different labels to produce dozens of albums to date. It hasn't always been easy; in 1986 a tour bus crash in Sweden killed bassist Cliff Burton after the vehicle rolled and he was ejected through a window. 

In the years since Burton's death, Metallica has accomplished some noteworthy feats. In 2000, for instance, the band discovered that their song "I Disappear" from the "Mission: Impossible 2" soundtrack was on the file-sharing site Napster before it was even released. Metallica sued for copyright infringement, Napster was shut down, and thousands of music lovers, including Metallica fans, lost their illegal music source. Then, in 2017 the band formed All Within My Hands, a foundation dedicating to helping out local charities. Today the band is worth around $1 billion and shows no signs of slowing down.

The Beatles remain the richest band in the world

Are you really surprised to hear this? British moppets Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr date back to 1956, says Notable Biographies, when McCartney joined Lennon's group, the Quarrymen. Add Harrison a short time later and Starr in the 1960's, and here was a group deservedly called "The Fab Four" (which was coined by publicist Tony Barrow in 1962). Fast forward through dozens of group and solo albums, seven Grammy awards since 1964, concerts, movies, and other feats, and it is wonder that Music Mayhem Magazine calls The Beatles the "'founders' of pop and rock."

Today, The Beatles' combined net worth amounts to roughly $1.2 billion. During their lifetimes both John Lennon, who died in 1980 and George Harrison, who died in 2001, were charitable in their own rights. Notably, Harrison's The Material World Foundation which started in 1973, still makes donations to numerous causes. Paul McCartney, meanwhile, continues to support upwards of 45 charities, according to the Borgen Project. As for Ringo Starr, 100% of his proceeds today go to his own Lotus Foundation to assist a bevy of causes, including battered women, children, and animals.