Most people steer their kids away from learning the drums in favour of less noisy instruments. You may want to reconsider after you find out how rich these musicians became from banging on a drum.
30. Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac): $8.5m
Kicking off our list is Fleetwood Mac’s titular drummer, who despite his cultural currency, is earning nearly half than the next drummer on the list. Those reunion tours can’t come soon enough, eh Mick?
29. Steven Adler (Guns N’ Roses): $15m
Speaking of reunions, it being the 20th anniversary of Appetite For Destruction:, we can imagine that Steven Adler’s fortune would top the list – if only those feuds with Axl would salve. The reunion tour everybody wants, but is never going to happen, would make a mint. Still, $15 million for drumming is not a bad lot.
28. ?uestlove (The Roots): $16m
Drummer and bandleader for the legendary Roots crew, ?uestlove has no doubt seen a boost in his banking since his outfit became the house band for Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. It would certainly take a bit of cash to essentially prevent the band from touring.
27. Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters): $20m
Hawkins’ financial success is directly related to Foo Fighters; and while chief Foo Grohl is earning nearly ten times what his drummer is – we can imagine that Hawkins gets to sleep fine at night. Maybe playing a young Iggy Pop in the upcoming CBGB movie will give him some extra pocket money.
26. Neil Peart (Rush): $22m
The Canadian power prog trio have made a successful career from their rabid cult fanbase. Steadily releasing studio albums and regularly touring the world keeps the wages coming and Neil Peart comfy.
25. Bill Kreutzmann (Grateful Dead): $25m
The very definition of ‘band as institution’, the drummer and co-founder for the Grateful Dead is still earning his way to a high pay grade. The majority of that money is coming directly from the road as the band continue to play extensively across the United States.
24. Mickey Hart (Grateful Dead):$30m
We’re guessing Hart may be a little more frugal with his spending than his drumming bandmate Kreutzmann, how else do you explain the Grateful Dead percussionist pocketing an extra $5mil? Maybe it’s because his equipment is less expensive than a drumkit?
23. Max Weinberg (The E Street Band): $35m
The 61-year-old sticks man is back on the road with The Boss as part of the original E Street Band, but he’s another drummer/bandleader (like ?uestlove) that’s obviously enjoyed that network cash with his long-term commitments to Conan O’Brien’s late-night chat shows.
22. Tico Torres (Bon Jovi): $40m
Bon Jovi were one of the most successful bands of the hair metal era and they’ve been capitalising on that success ever since. Tico ‘The Hitman’ Torres is proof enough of that as we round into the Top 20 of the list.
21. Danny Carey (Tool): $40m
Considering Tool release albums every 5-6 years on average, it may not be the record sales that account for Carey’s wealth; but instead the commitment of their fans – with tickets for shows still hot property. The technical wizard also moonlights for a number of local LA bands, including Pigmy Love Circus and VOLTO!
20. Tre Cool (Green Day): $45m
Despite their upbringing as cartoon punks, come 2004’s American Idiot Green Day became a hugely bankable commodity. Playing with U2, prepping stage musicals and merchandise galore followed and the man born Frank Edwin Wright III aka Tre Cool took a tasty slice of that money pie.
19. Rick Allen (Def Leppard): $50m
Another act that is still relishing on the good deals they made from their 80s heyday, Def Leppard’s one-armed warrior is worth a cool $50 million alone. The band have recently been re-recording their classic hits to ensure they keep receiving the proper royalties, but even if it goes pear-shaped – Allen should be good for some time.
18. Carter Beauford (Dave Matthews Band): $55m
Though they never matched the same kind of success internationally, Dave Matthews Band are one of America’s most enduringly popular and commercially successful acts. Virginian native Beauford is widely respected for his groove and precision, he’s also ambidextrous which means he can spend that hard-earned with either hand.
17. John Fishman (Phish): $60m
From The Grateful Dead to Dave Matthews Band – it’s clear that being a cult concern in America is certainly a lucrative career choice. Case in point, Mr. Fishman, who’s is probably one of the highest earning musicians in the US and yet, one of the most unknown outside of his own turf.
16. Bill Ward (Black Sabbath): $65m
Though he was frozen out of the 2012 Black Sabbath reunion earlier this year over a controversy with his former bandmates, and a sour contract; it doesn’t seem like the metal maestro needs any hand-outs with his bulging wallet.
15. Tommy Lee (Motley Crue): $70m
Not even a messy divorce with former wife Pamela Lee could hurt the Moltey Crue drummer’s financial health. The royalties from the glam rocker’s catalogue are still rolling in and considering his stints with various acts among the hard rock community – Lee’s sitting pretty.
14. Nick Mason (Pink Floyd): $75m
”Money/it’s a gas/grab that cash with both hands and make a stash”, so goes the needling lyric to ‘Money’ from Pink Floyd’s 1973 masterpiece Dark Side of the Moon. Looks like the band took that sentiment to heart, especially car enthusiast Mason – who owns his own collection of Ferraris.
13. Alex Van Halen (Van Halen): $75m
Sitting neck and neck in earnings with the Floyd drummer is Dutch-born Van Halen. The older brother to guitar-shredding Eddie, Alex is obviously enjoying the benefits of his kinship right about now.
12. Stewart Copeland (The Police): $80m
Again, those reunion dollars start to make a lot of sense. While Copeland has made a go as a jazz drummer and sometimes soundtrack composer in the time since The Police’s split in 1986, there’s no denying the extraordinary cheques it took to get the band back together in 2007. Enough to compensate for the bad blood between Copeland and Sting.
11. Travis Barker (Blink 182): $85m
Barker’s made some smart financial decisions in his time, the chief one being leaving The Aquabats to join Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge in Blink 182 after original drummer Scott Raynor left the drum stool in 1998. The rest, as they say, is dollar signs – or is that history?
10. Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers): $90m
How many 50-year-olds do you know that earn nearly $100 million from playing punk-funk? Well, now you can add Chad Smith to the list. Though he occasionally bandies about with supergroup Chickenfoot, it’s with the Chilis that Smith makes his (serious) bank.
9. Joey Kramer (Aerosmith): $100m
Think money can buy happiness? Guess again. The Aerosmith’s skin pounder released his autobiography Hit Hard: A Story Of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top in 2009, which detailed Kramer’s career and struggles with depression. Still he must find some solace in being one of the most valuable (literally) members of American rock.
8. Roger Taylor (Queen): $105m
Not to be confused with the Duran Duran drummer of the same name, Taylor has made a luxurious career in the rhythm section of Queen. He’s also enjoyed a solo career fronting his side-project, The Cross, and the success of stage musical We Will Rock You can’t have hurt any either.
7. Larry Mullen (U2): $150m
U2’s worldwide 360° tour earned them the accolade of highest grossing tour of last year, raking in $293 million across 44 sold-out shows. From that alone the eternally youthful looking Mullen obviously enjoyed a sizeable portion of those jaw-dropping figures. At this rate, he’ll easily top the likes of The Beatles and The Stones for net worth if U2 reach the wrinkled lengths of their respective journeys.
6. Charlie Watts (The Rolling Stones): $160m
Is it really any surprise that after five decades and some of the biggest-selling tours in music history, that the British gentleman of Rock’s longest running boys club is worth so much? The question is can he still be spending as much as he’s making at the ripe old age of 71?
5. Lars Ulrich (Metallica): $175m
Being the most successful metal band of all time has been the biggest contributor to Ulrich’s wealth, but it’s a little-known fact that he’s a casual artist as well. Assuming he’s selling his pieces at a good price, it may just be the factor that edged him into the Top 5 richest drummers. Bottom line - does this mean the diabolical Dane can shut his trap about Napster now?
4. Don Henley (Eagles): $200m
While money isn’t everything, it’s surely nice to have plenty of it. Just ask Eagles drummer Henley. Still, the man has made sure he’s put his immense riches to good use, helping fund the non-profit Cadd Lake institution in 1993 to aid in ecological research. He’s also a noted donor to Democratic political campaigns and helped found the Recording Artists Coalition in 2001.
3. Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters): $225m
Considering the ‘nicest man in rock’ has a number of creative endeavours to his name, as well as the immense stadium success of his Foo Fighters; it’s not unsurprising to find Grohl near the top of the rich drummers heap, pounding out well over $200 million to his name. Those two daughters of his have got a pretty secure future.
2. Phil Collins (Genesis): $250m
Considering he successfully transformed Genesis from a prog rock outfit into a money-making 80s act, and then his burgeoning solo career - it starts to make sense that Collins is the second highest-earning drummer in the world.
1. Ringo Starr (The Beatles): $300m
It’s fitting that the drummer for the most influential band in history is also the world’s richest sticks man. He might not be worth the ridiculous amount of fellow surviving Beatle Paul McCartney – who’s got a net worth of approx. $780 million – but it doesn’t look like anyone can make any lame drummers jokes at Ringo’s expense anymore.
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