13 Rock Legends Who Went Broke

13 Rock Legends Who Went Broke | Society Of Rock Videos

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Being a popular rock star comes with fame, fans, and of course, a lot of money. However, it’s surprising how many rockers have managed to lose all their wealth over the years. Whether it was due to bad contracts, poor financial decisions, or excessive lifestyles, these musicians found themselves facing bankruptcy and financial ruins. Let’s take a closer look at some rockers who went from rockin’ success to hitting rock bottom.

Tom Petty

In 1979, Tom Petty made the strategic decision to file for bankruptcy in order to break free from an unfair recording contract. Despite achieving immense success with hit albums and singles, Petty found himself with no money due to the music industry’s deceptive accounting practices. Filing for bankruptcy embarrassed his record label, leading them to offer him a lucrative contract to prevent other artists from following suit.

Mick Fleetwood

Mick Fleetwood, the co-founder of Fleetwood Mac, faced bankruptcy in 1984 despite the band’s immense financial success. Purchasing and selling properties at a loss, major loans, and failed investments resulted in continuous financial troubles for Fleetwood. Over the years, he lost count of how many times he had filed for bankruptcy.

David Crosby


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David Crosby, a member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, & Nash, experienced a downward spiral in the 1980s due to drug addiction and legal troubles. Multiple arrests and time spent in jail drained Crosby’s bank account. He filed for bankruptcy in 1985 and even had to rely on friends for shelter and clothing.

Ted Nugent


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Ted Nugent, a successful rock star and self-promoter, faced bankruptcy after investing in ventures such as a mink farm, a hotel, and a herd of Clydesdales. Despite being careful with his finances, Nugent’s unconventional investments failed, leading to his financial downfall.

Dee Snider


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Dee Snider, known for his involvement in the band Twisted Sister, found himself broke and shopping in thrift stores after poor financial decisions. Despite his success, Snider’s extravagant spending and business ventures left him bankrupt.

Meat Loaf


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Meat Loaf, known for his epic rock ballads, found himself facing financial ruin due to a series of legal battles. Disputes with his record label, mismanaged finances, and the multi-million dollar lawsuit from his former songwriting partner, Jim Steinman, all contributed to his financial downfall. Meat Loaf was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1983 and had to start from scratch to rebuild his career and personal finances.

Billy Joel


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Billy Joel, a music legend known for hits like “Piano Man,” made a fortune during his successful career. However, poor financial decisions and a lavish lifestyle led to substantial monetary losses. Joel’s extravagant spending, failed investments, and multiple divorces drained his bank account. Despite his financial troubles, he managed to bounce back with successful concert tours and prudent financial management.

Willie Nelson


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Willie Nelson, a country music icon and activist, faced serious financial troubles due to unpaid taxes. In 1990, the IRS seized most of Nelson’s assets and placed a lien on his property, forcing him to file for bankruptcy. Nelson’s financial struggles lasted for several years, but his loyal fanbase and successful music career allowed him to recover financially.

B.B. King


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B.B. King, the legendary blues guitarist, faced financial difficulties due to being misled by managers into signing unfavorable contracts and bad business deals. King’s lack of financial expertise left him vulnerable to exploitation, resulting in an unfortunate drain on his finances. However, his music continued to resonate with fans worldwide, allowing him to recover financially later in his career.

Jerry Lee Lewis


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The rock ‘n roll icon made millions with hits like “Great Balls of Fire” but faced difficulties with the IRS due to overdue tax bills amounting to nearly $2 million in 1988. Lewis had to declare bankruptcy and struggled financially before his passing in 2022.

Ron Isley


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As the lead singer of the Isley Brothers, Isley faced financial trouble when he failed to file his taxes for years, resulting in a $5 million debt. The IRS seized his yacht and vehicles, and Isley eventually declared bankruptcy. He also faced legal consequences for not filing tax returns.

John Oates


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John Oates, the singer of the famous duo Hall & Oates, detailed his financial struggles and personal challenges in his upcoming memoir “Change of Seasons.” In the ’80s and ’90s, despite selling 80 million records, Oates was blindsided by the news that he was broke after his accountant informed him. He reflects on his lavish lifestyle, owning multiple homes, antique cars, and a plane, which led to his financial downfall. Oates also mentions his regrets regarding his treatment of his first wife and admits to mistakes made during that era.

Leonard Cohen


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A legal battle between Cohen and his personal manager and financial adviser, with accusations of mismanagement and betrayal has left Cohen almost broke, forcing him to take out a mortgage on his house and face a large tax bill. The suit alleges that his manager siphoned money from Cohen and accuses Cohen of conspiracy and extortion.

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