The ridiculous amount of money baby-boomer rockers still make on tour

The money has been coming in since the ’70s.
The money has been coming in since the ’70s.
Image: AP Photo/Nick Ut
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It’s no rumor: Lindsey Buckingham, former lead guitarist of Fleetwood Mac, is suing his former bandmates, declaring that cutting him out of their current tour deprived him of up to $14 million.

According to the suit Buckingham’s lawyers filed this week in Los Angeles Superior Court, Fleetwood Mac made a deal with Live Nation for a 60-concert North American tour that would earn $12 million to $14 million for each band member. Buckingham alleges that in addition to losing this potential income, the group also broke an oral contract that no member of Fleetwood Mac could be dismissed without cause. Buckingham was abruptly dropped from the group earlier this year, and replaced with Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and Neil Finn of Crowded House.

The chain of events leading to Buckingham’s departure included him wanting to focus on his solo work, a supposed disagreement with Stevie Nicks during a MusiCares benefit show in New York, and other band members reportedly being cryptic and cold toward him for months. Buckingham’s suit also highlights just how much baby-boomer rock stars can make even decades after their biggest hits.

Many other bands of the same vintage are still making big bucks. Pollstar, the concert-industry trade publication, published its list of the highest grossing worldwide tours for the first half of 2018. While Ed Sheeran tops the list with $213 million, there are 10 music acts in the top 30 that skyrocketed to fame decades before social media was a thing.

This chart shows just how much these baby-boomer artists have made on tour this year so far, as well as their ranking on Pollstar’s list.

The Rolling Stones are the top-earning rock band in 2018 (over $100 million so far), and groups like the Eagles and U2 outrank younger megastars including Jay-Z and Beyonce (no. 11), Katy Perry (no. 14), and Kendrick Lamar (no. 18).

If the estimation of up to a $14-million take for each member of Fleetwood Mac turns out to be right (it was a five-member lineup when the group included Buckingham), their gross take may be within range of what the Stones are taking in.