The Most Expensive Classic Rock Albums Ever Made
via Connor M./YouTube
Some Paid Off, Others Did Not
No artist wants to rush an album. Thus, it’s perfectly understandable if they end up spending weeks working on one song alone. Longer time means bigger bills. Whether it’s perfectionism or creative constraints or in-fighting – any delays can cause production costs to balloon quickly. Back then, not everyone had the luxury of taking their sweet time. Bands often have to deal with producers and managers pushing them to finish as soon as possible.
These are the most expensive rock ‘n roll albums ever made.
10. The Beatles – “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” ($416,000)
One of The Fab Four’s most innovative, groundbreaking, and revolutionary albums was expensive to make. But it was all well worth it as they received praises not just for the songs but even the artwork cover.
9. Queen – “A Night at the Opera” ($418,000)
It was the most expensive record ever made at the time. In the span of four months, they transferred from one studio to another.
8. The Beach Boys – “Smile” ($530,000)
It all began with the unfinished album Smile which was supposed to be a follow-up to Pet Sounds. In 2004, Brian Wilson finished it and called it Brian Wilson Presents Smile.
7. Foo Fighters – “One By One” ($1M)
There were tensions between the members and because they were unsatisfied with their initial recording sessions, they decided to redo everything. It may have been a commercial success but production was far from smooth.
6. Metallica – “The Black Album” ($1M)
The band’s best-selling album was expensive to make. It featured several classic hits but production was troubled from the beginning especially because Metallica had frequent arguments with their new producer Bob Rock.
5. Grateful Dead – “Aoxomoxoa” ($1.2M)
It was recorded twice and they spent around eight months in the studio working on it. They were busy experimenting with the new technology. And so it comes as no surprise that they racked up debt with Warner Bros. Records.
4. Tears for Fears – “Seeds of Love” ($1.26M)
They started working on it in late 1986 but by the following year, the initial recordings were scrapped. They began recording again in early 1988 and finished 1989. Aside from the lengthy sessions, they also had to hire numerous session players.
3. Fleetwood Mac – “Tusk” ($1.4M)
This experimental double album was expensive to make but compared to Rumours, it was a commercial failure as it only sold four million copies.
2. Def Leppard – “Hysteria” ($4.5M)
Production took more than three years and was marred with various delays. During this time, drummer Rick Allen also had an accident which cost him his left arm. He had to get used to and master his custom-made drum kit.
1. Guns N’ Roses – “Chinese Democracy” ($13M)
Not surprisingly, Axl Rose had a hand in the production delays. They hired several guitarists including Sebastian Bach and Buckethead. They began working on it in 1997 but by 2000, they had to re-record everything.