With Meek Mill and Drake’s rivalry continuing without an end in sight, it is clear that singers and songwriters often do not see eye to eye. This does not lead all singers to miss out on the songwriting experience, however. The following individuals have made it to the top of the pop charts several times, for their beautiful voices and songwriting abilities. These include Carole King, whose efforts earned her spots within the Billboard Hot 100 several hundred times. The most successful singer-songwriters and musical artists make millions of dollars out of their royalties.
Neil Diamond – $175 million
Greatest Hits: Cracklin’ Rosie, Song Sung Blue
Neil Diamond cracked the top 10 billboard charts thirty-eight times with the same number of singles, and has enjoyed the release of more than one hundred albums across the world. As you can imagine, Diamond is one of the most profitable artists ever. His place in the Songwriters Hall of Fame was secured in 1984, and his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inauguration took place in 2011. Diamond has always held on to his good sense of humor. Will Ferrell made a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Diamond during his conclusive May 2002 special.
Johnny Cash – $60 million
Greatest Hits: Folsom Prison Blues, I Walk the Line
Johnny Cash enjoyed over ninety million albums in sales across the world, securing his place as one of the planet’s most profitable artists. His place in the Rock and Roll, Country Music, and Gospel Music Halls of Fame were all well deserved. Cash’s music was rough and ready, but he always delivered with his emotional and powerful lyrics and presence. Cash was a humble and modest performer, unlike many of his Rock ‘n Roll contemporaries. The film Walk the Line was his troubled life’s biopic.
Joni Mitchell – $50 million
Greatest Hits: Big Yellow Taxi, Woodstock
Joni Mitchell’s The Blue Album is recognized as among the best ever released. The pianist, guitarist, and poet combined all manner of genres, such as jazz, folk, pop, and rock when she commenced performing on sidewalks and in poky bars. Mitchell was also a fierce social justice advocate, being energetically involved in the counterculture that Boomers were so passionate about. “Woodstock” and “Big Yellow Taxi” were among her most enjoyed songs, which she recorded with Reprise Records. Her songs have been covered many times, and she has enjoyed many different styles.
Jerry Garcia – $40 million
Greatest Hits: Sugaree, Truckin’
The San Francisco born artist enjoyed around three decades in the music industry alongside his incredible band. The man cycled through various bands in his time, as well as enjoying plenty of albums on his own. Garcia was also a sensational guitarist, earning the 13th spot on the “100 Greatest Guitarists” list by Rolling Stones magazine. Grateful Dead fans will know Garcia for his songwriting provisions for the rock band, as well as his psychedelic rock-fueled inspirations. Truckin’ was one of the songs where his improvised guitar solos really shone, something that would allow the artist blow off some steam.
Paul Simon – $75 million
Greatest Hit: Bridge Over Troubled Water
Paul Simon has written a monumental number of superb and timeless songs, such as Bridge Over Troubled Water, Sound of Silence, Mrs. Robinson, and so on. These songs were recorded with Columbia Records. He would eventually split up with his artist partner, Art Garfunkel, to commence his 1970 solo career. This led to the writing of Graceland, a song that was inspired by his time in South Africa. The track enjoyed 14 million record sales not long after it was published, becoming his best solo piece ever. He also enjoyed some time on Broadway where he produced several artists.
James Taylor – $60 million
Greatest Hits: Night Owl, Paint it Black
It was in the year 2000 that James Taylor, the singer-songwriter who won five Grammy awards, was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His more than 100 million album sales across the world made him one of the most successful artists ever. It was in 1970 that his breakthrough track, Fire and Rain, elevated him to popularity. He covered tracks like Sweet Baby James, Handy man, and How Sweet it Is.
Carole King – $70 million
Greatest Hits: Jazzman, It’s Too Late, Nightingale
From 1950 – 2000, Carole King successfully managed to continue her amazingly successful and popular musical career. She wrote her own or helped write 118 songs that would make it into the Billboard Hot 100 hits. And this was just her performance in America! Her 61 hits allowed her to become the most acclaimed woman songwriter in the world for the time, making an incredible name for herself in Britain as well. Her song Tapestry performed amazingly in America, as it was kept by the charts at a high place for almost four months, remaining in high esteem within the charts for six more years. Her Hollywood Star was awarded in 2012.
Stevie Wonder – $110 million
Greatest Hits: Superstition
Stevie Wonder is one of the greatest American singer-songwriters to ever have been born. The gentleman could play the keyboards, harmonica, harpejji, drums, and various other instruments, well beyond his golden voice. Wonder enjoyed more than one hundred million record sales, was awarded 25 Grammy awards, as well as an Academy Award, to name a few of his awards. Of course, Wonder is a part of the Hall of Songwriters and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He has too many hits to name them all here, but some of his best include Isn’t She Lovely and Superstitious.
Billy Joel – $180 million
Greatest Hits: Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song), Piano Man
You may better recognize Billy Joel as “Piano Man” thanks to the incredible performance of his initial track. From the 1970s onward, Joel’s over 150 million record sales made him one of the United States’ most successful artists. His Greatest Hits collection is one the country’s most bought albums ever. The Bronx-born artist departed from high school prematurely to begin studying music. Columbia Records finally agreed to sign him in 1972. Joel won 5 of the 23 total Grammy nominations he has received.
Burt Bacharach – $160 million
Greatest Hits: Close to You, Arthur’s Theme
The 20th century was filled with many incredible songwriters, with Burt Bacharach being one of the most successful. Burt came into the world in 1928 and commenced composing musing throughout the 1980s. He created countless masterpieces for more than 1,000 artists, working many times with Hal David. Dione Warwick is one singer that he was famous for collaborating with, and his jazz harmony and chord progression are iconic. But Burt would work with plenty of lesser known orchestras, too, providing them with all manner of special instruments. Burt enjoyed easy-going, modern pop music.
Jimmy Buffett – $900 million
Greatest Hits: Margaritaville, Cheeseburger In ParadiseCheeseburger In Paradise
The Mississippi-born singer-songwriter launched his career during the late 1960s in Nashville TN. His first album Down to Earth categorized as a country-tinged folk-rock genre made him a country star that made him known as a popular concert drawer. During the 70’s he released 5 albums including Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes which featured Margaritaville. Buffett is still active, releasing new songs and holding huge concerts. His net worth is composed not only from his musical career but also from businesses he runs and owns such as his Lager brand, casino and resort, Margaritaville and Mailboat Records and more…
Randy Newman – $50 million
Dolly Parton has created more than 3,000 songs and is one of America’s most successful artists of all time. One of her most iconic songs, “I Will Always Love You” was covered by Whitney Huston, who was one of the many artists to do so. Parton revealed in an interview that she was only seven years old when she commenced writing music. She loves to write constantly, from poems, to songs, to whole albums and even just thoughts and inspirations. The Appalachian Mountains inspired, religious artist enjoyed a traditional childhood. She also must have appreciated her 35 BMI Awards.
Tom Petty – $95 million
Greatest Hits: Don’t Do Me Like That, Here Comes My Girl, Refugee
The incredibly successful Tom Petty is one of the most profitable artists to have been born. After his introduction to Elvis Presley at the age of ten, Petty knew that he loved rock ‘n roll. He then commenced listening to a lot of punk rock and The Rolling Stones. Mudcrutch would be the band that he formed and began rising into fame with. Tom Petty later formed the Heartbreakers, which turned things around for the artist. The 1970s band made it into the big time with the second album that they recorded together, which made it into the Top40. Their next album would enjoy two million sales.
Loretta Lynn – $65 million
Greatest Hits: Coal Miner’s Daughter, You Ain’t Woman Enough
The Kentucky-born country star dominated her genre and scene to the point that she is still recognized as one of its greatest contributors. Songs like First City, You Ain’t Woman Enough, Don’t Come Home A’Drinkin’, and One’s on the Way were some of her many amazing songs. She even enjoyed her own biopic, called The Daughter of the Coal Miner, the name taken from one of her most successful tracks. With a record sales rate of more than forty-five million records, 24 albums, one single, and eleven numbers, Lynn is still amazingly carrying on with her career at the age of 87.
Lou Reed – $15 million
Greatest Hits: Heavenly Arms, Think it Over
The Velvet Underground enjoyed an incredible songwriter and lead singer with Lou Reed, who would later embark on a solo career that would continue for more than five decades. Despite never enjoying critical or commercial success while it was a thing, The Velvet Underground is today considered to be one of the greatest alternative rock bands ever formed. Reed would depart from the Velvet Underground in 1970 to then pump out 20 solo records. His first album did moderately well, but the subsequent ones performed incredibly well, but he did have something of a mixed career. Eventually, New York and New Sensations would revive his career.
Kris Kristofferson – $160 million
Greatest Hits: Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down, Me and Bobby McGee
Kris Kristofferson enjoyed a marvelous career as a singer-songwriter and performer. The man wrote plenty of hits for his counterparts, and would collaborate frequently with Shel Silverstein. The Highwaymen was a supergroup made up of Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson. He also acted in plenty of films, such as Blade, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Heaven’s Gate, and A Star is Born. His part in A Star is Born earned him a Golden Globe. In modern times, Kristofferson has a home in Maui, Hawaii.
Paul McCartney – $1.2 billion
Greatest Hits: Yesterday
John Lennon could only be surpassed by a fellow former Beatle, Paul McCartney. His songs have been covered by more than 2,200 artists, with Yesterday being one of the most frequently borrowed. He was twice inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, as a solo artist and as a member of The Beatles. 1965 saw the leading stars being called MOB. Paul is also a knight, an honor that he received in 1997.
Van Morrison – $90 million
Greatest Hits: Brown Eyed Girl, Gloria
You cannot speak about the legendary Van Morrison without mentioning how he began performing professionally as a teenager. He was a part of Them, the R&B Irish outfit that toured Ireland extensively along with several showbands. The man would later produce Gloria, which would create an entirely new understanding of the genre along with his band. Brown-Eyed Girl came out towards the end of the 1960, which was probably his most successful song. Astral Weeks was his first solo album, which did not perform too well at first. His second album, however, became a massive hit, called Moondance.
Bob Dylan – $200 million
Greatest Hits: Blowin’ in The Wind, The Times, They Are A’Changin’
Bob Dylan is a legend among legends, being one of the key figures of the American counterculture movement. He was also a proponent of the Civil Rights movement, with anthems like Blowin’ in The Wind and The Times They Are A-Changin’. He continued to release a string of hits from then on. His music was largely politically focused, and he happened to be one of the first employers of the electric guitar, which was considered scandalous for the time. With more than 100 million albums sold, Dylan is an icon of American music with an unshakable position.
Brian Wilson – $75 million
Greatest Hits: I Get Around, Good Vibrations, Barbara Ann, God Only Knows
The Beach Boys was co-founded by Brian Wilson, who was signed to Capitol in 1962, with more than 24 out of the 40 Beach Boys’ hits being written by him. The 20th century had many genius songwriters, with Wilson being considered to be one of the best. Along with his cousin and brothers, the Beach Boys were formed. Wilson still enjoys the occasional tour, being considered to be the pioneer of punk rock and indie-pop. While many people have tried to imitate his sound and feel, few have managed to truly capture his irreplaceable finesse.
John Fogerty – $70 million
Greatest Hits: Fortunate Son, Bad Moon Rising, Proud Mary
The major member of Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Fogerty, created the band along with Tom Doug Clifford, his brother, and Stu Cook. Fogerty was a huge success as a member of Creedence Clearwater Revival and on his own. He wrote most of the band’s songs, as well as being its lead guitarist. It was in 1972 that the band finally came to an end, and from that point onwards Fogerty embarked on his solo career. He was placed 40th on the 100 Best Guitarists list and 72nd in the Greatest Singers of All Time lists by Rolling Stones magazine. Tina Turner made something magical out of his song, Proud Mary, which was one of many incredible hits.
Willie Nelson – $25 million
Greatest Hits: On the Road Again, Family Bible
The Texan-born Willie Nelson would become a highly regarded artist, singer, and songwriter when unleashed Shotgun Willie. The Stardust and Red Headed Stranger albums would make him a real celebrity in the 1970s. Nelson is also famous for his love of marijuana and his advocacy for its legalization. He is also an author and prolific actor with more than 30 movies under his belt. After dodging his taxes for many years, Nelson finally wrote the IRS Tapes to cover his huge debt with a double-album recuperation.
Elton John – $500 million
Greatest Hits: Crocodile Rock, Rocket Man
Elton John enjoyed record sales of over 300 million units, and 58 entries into the top 40 with his many Billboard singles. The United States and the United Kingdom were rocked by the emotive tribute song called Candle in the Wind, which he wrote for Princess Diana when she tragically lost her life. He has five Grammy awards, and many other titles, which makes him one of the most successful artists topped only by fellow greats like Madonna and The Beatles. John is committed to his LGBTQ+ advocacy, having funded over $300 million in related charity efforts.
David Bowie – $100 million
Greatest Hits: Modern Love, Changes, Space Oddity
David Bowie sold more than 140 million albums across the world, gaining a total of 10 Platinum records for his variety of successful songs. Bowie was famous for his iconic stage and public personas and performances. He had an alter ego called Ziggy Stardust, which was a gender-neutral creation that defied gender and cultural norms. At a young age, Bowie began studying music and art. His musical efforts took off in 1983 when he released Space Oddity. He was only 62 when he tragically passed, and is honored by his widow, Iman.
Glenn Frey – $200 million
Greatest Hits: James Dean, Lyin’ Eyes, Tequila Sunrise
The Eagles’ lead singer and guitarist, Glenn Frey, released plenty of hit singles like Lyin’ Eyes, Tequila Sunrise, New Kid in Town, Take it Easy, among many others. When the 1980 breakup of The Eagles was confirmed, Grey set off on his solo career, beginning with No Fun Aloud. He was a master of songs like Sexy Girl, Blues Smuggler, and The Heat is On, entering the top 40s on many occasions. Like Bowie, Frey’s life ended when he was in his 60s, at 67.
John Prine – $6 million
Greatest Hits: Sam Stone, Dear Abby, Illegal Smile
From the 1970s onwards, John Prine has been a phenomenal singer-songwriter. He was only 14 when he began learning the guitar as a member of the Chicago-based Folk’s Old Town School His music career was put on hold when he joined the West Germany military at the age of 18. He then returned to Chicago, where he would later be recognized by Kris Kristofferson and offered an opportunity to create his initial album with Atlantic. His songs often parody global events
Bono – $700 million
Greatest Hits: Sunday, Bloody Sunday
The Dublin-born artist, Bono, is the head of U2, as well as its prime songwriter. The man earned 22 Grammy awards with his band, and has spoken extensively on the art of songwriting. His political and social focus is his main inspiration for songwriting, also shaped by his time being raised within a religious school. His more rebellious feel in his earlier years as a songwriter and performer would late lead to a mature sound when he commenced writing about his individual experiences. He tied the knot with singer Ali Stewart.
George Harrison – $400 million
The former lead guitarist of The Beatles was famous for his demure attitude, being known as “the Quiet Beatle” due to how he remained in the shadows of the more iconic band members like McCartney and Lennon. He did manage to squeeze some of his own songs into the band’s retinue, such as Something, Here Comes the Sun, and Taxman. He penned George Formy, Chuck Berry, and Carl Perkins as his lead influences. He adores Indian music and culture, making sure that much of the culture’s influences come into his music with its instruments. Hinduism was also a big professional and personal inspiration.
Sam Cooke – $650,000
Greatest Hits: Chain Gang, Wonderful World, A Change is Gonna Come
Sam Cooke is an entrepreneur and musician that was well known as an inspiring songwriter, too. He was named as the “King of Soul” thanks to his major contributions to pop music and his wonderful voice. He was a part of The Soul Sisters during his youth as a singer, which would lead to his solo career spawning at a later stage. He worked with all manner of icons of his time, such as Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Billy Preston, Curtis Mayfield, and Marvin Gaye, among many others. He is responsible for Otis Redding and James Brown’s fame. Bruce Eder, the writer of AllMusic, described him as the soul genre’s “inventor”.
Bert Berns – $20 million
Greatest Hits: Here Comes the Night, Hang on Sloopy, Twist and Shout
The Bronx-born Bert Berns was one of the 1960s most inspiring songwriters and producers. He wrote massive hits like Hang on Sloopy and Twist and Shout, providing major contributions to plenty of other artists’ hits. He worked with many labels, too, such as Bang, Atlantic, and Shout, where wrote hits like Baby Please Don’t Go, Brown Eyed Girl, and Under the Boardwalk. He loved to shake his stuff at mambo nightclubs during his youth, and enjoyed a place in Havana until the Cuban Revolution forced him to return to America. He was only 38 when his heart gave out.
Marvin Gaye – $5 million
Greatest Hits: I Heard it Through the Grapevine, How Sweet It Is, Ain’t That Peculiar
If there is a “King of Soul”, then there must be a “Prince of Soul”, which is what Marvin Gaye was called, along with the “Prince of Motown” a title which he earned thanks to his contributions to the 1960s Motown movement. Prior to his solo career, Gaye managed to break out as an independent Motown artist, along with Stevie Wonder. He took the quiet storm and neo-soul genres to new heights. He was an awarded a Grammy award for his hit, Midnight Love. An NBA All-Star Game that occurred in 1983 featured his conclusive TV appearance.
Chrissie Hynde – $12 million
Greatest Hits: Back on the Chain Gang, Talk of the Town
The Pretenders were formed by Chrissie Hynde, who enjoyed her place as the band’s frontwoman from 1978 onwards. She was greatly inspired by the counterculture movement and the hippies, where she lived in London as a clothing store manager that she shared with Vivienne Westwood, the iconic fashion designer. Her musical career was switched with one in fashion. She collaborated with many different kinds of artists, like Frank Sinatra, UB40, and Cher! Her 1978 demo tape was handed to Dave Hill of Real Records. She was finally able to cover her rent for her London practice room.
Lucinda Williams – $15 million
Greatest Hits: Get Right With God, Can’t Let Go
Lucinda Williams is a Louisiana born country singer that would dominate the country-rock and folk-rock subgenres. From 1979 onwards, Williams would work hard within the music industry, earning proper recognition for her eponymous first album. In 1994, Williams won her initial Grammy award for the hit, Passionate Kisses. Williams seems to never lose traction, having recently released two further albums. Her efforts really began to be recognized when she released the Gravel Path to Car Wheels to gold-certified success.
Harry Nilsson – $7 million
Greatest Hits: Coconut, Without You
Harry Nilsson happens to be one of the oldest and most well-established rock stars of his and our time, but ironically, he has never performed to a sizeable audience or gone on tour. Regardless, he had made a good name for himself, and earned plenty of money thanks to his fusion of Caribbean and Great American Songbook genres. He enjoys a range of three-and-a-half-octaves with a powerful tenor voice. He is one of the pioneers of indie rock, and has worked with The Monkees.
Curtis Mayfield – $10 million
Greatest Hits: People Get Ready
Between the 1950s and 1960s, Curtis Mayfield belonged to the iconic band, The Impressions, which was a huge part of the Civil Rights Movement’s efforts. The Chicago-born gentleman was a beloved member of a successful local gospel choir. His acquaintance with fellow performer Jerry Butler led to his eventual joining of The Impressions. His songs were written with social justice in mind, which would lead to his joining of the Civil Rights Movement. People Get Ready was one album that came in at the 24th position on the Greatest All-Time Songs list by Rolling Stones magazine.
Max Martin – $260 million
Greatest Hits: I Want it That Way, Baby One More Time, It’s Gonna Be Me
After reading what Max Martin’s greatest hits were, you will recognize him as making some of the biggest contributions to the greatest pop stars of our time. The Sweden-born composer wrote Baby One More Time for Britney Spears, It’s Gonna Be Me for NSYNC, and I Want it That Way for the Backstreet Boys. He was a frequent member of the Billboard Charts, with 22 contributions that made it to the top spot. He recently wrote music for more modern artists like Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, The Weeknd, and Maroon 5.
Allen Toussaint – $3 million
Greatest Hits: Java, Working in the Coal Mine, Yes We Can Can
When it comes to R&B, Allen Toussaint is something of a godfather, having been a central figure in the New Orleans music scene during the mid-20th century. Toussaint was from Gert Town, Louisiana, where his career really began taking off during the 1950s, even if he was defined as a “backroom figure” as he proceeded to compose and write music while being largely underappreciated. He wrote hits like Mother, Working in the Coal Mine, Mother-in-Law, and Java. Right Place, Wrong Time, and Lady Marmalade were a couple of his other biggest hits.
Chuck Berry – $10 million
Greatest Hits: Ida Red, Johnny B. Goode, You Can Never Tell
Who is the “Father of Rock ‘n Roll”? Why, Chuck Berry, of course! He was known for re-adapting and refining the then ancient Rhythm and Blues into Rock ‘n Roll, creating the foundation for the genre with his outlandish performances and dramatic guitar solos. The St. Louis-born artist and songwriter commenced his career when he joined the Johnnie Johnson Trio, but he was truly recognized when he became acquainted with the Muddy Waters singer. He was then handed to Chess Records by the singer, releasing his initial hit called Ida Rad, which was bought over one million times.
Pete Townshend – $105 million
Greatest Hits: Pictures of Lilly, Happy Jack
Pete Townshend is a household name in British and international rock music in general. He was one part of The Who’s leadership, a band that he would be dedicated to for over half a century. Towards the end of the 20th century, he steered The Who to become the type of icon that is legendary in his world. With more than 100 songs under his belt, and 11 albums, which were all written for The Who, it is amazing that Townshend had time to produce Quadrophenia and Tommy, his couple of rock operas. Townshend was also a prolific writer, penning books, essays, and columns.
George Clinton – $1.8 million
Greatest Hits: You’re Thinkin’ Right, Can’t C Me, Loopzilla
The Detroit soul labels master George Clinton worked incredibly hard within the Motown movement, where he wrote and recorded various successful releases. The Parliaments was the band that Clinton headed, being reestablished as Parliament and Funkadelic. The man fused electro-funk and psychedelic rock. Can’t C Me was written for Tupac, making Clinton a central figure in rap music as well. He provided many other artists with major songs, such as Outkast, Wu-Tang Clan, Redman, and Ice Cube.
Isaac Hayes – $12 million
Greatest Hits: Soul Man
Stax Records would not be the success that it was if it wasn’t for Isaac Hayes. He was an internal session performer who joined Stax Records prior to his singer-songwriter fame. The Tennessee-born Soul Man writer would have this song become a truly inspiring soul hit. Many films have used his music for their soundtracks, too. Shaft, the thrilling cop flick, had its soundtrack written by Hayes, which would win him an Academy Award. This was the third Academy Award to be won by an African-American man. 2003 saw him be labeled as a BMI Icon.
Joe Strummer – $4 million
Greatest Hits: Rock the Casbah
Punk rock would have missed out on a phenomenal contributor if Joe Strummer had chosen another career. The Clash was his baby, which was founded by Strummer, a lifelong dedication that would earn him an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. The British punk band enjoyed a number 2 spot in the UK charts with their second album. They broke into the American audiences with their third and fourth albums, which would earn platinum certifications. Strummer would also work with other great bands of his time like Latino Rockabilly, The Mescaleros, 101ers, and The Pogues, among many others. Strummer later enjoyed his solo career, where he composed music for movies and television, produced radio players, and would even become a social justice advocate with his part in Rock Against Racism.
Patti Smith – $16 million
Greatest Hits: Because the Night
The singer, songwriter, and poet, Patti Smith, would also become a major contributor to New York City’s 1970s punk rock movement with her revolutionary first album called Horses. She fused punk rock with poetry to become the initial punk pet. Because the Night is widely considered to be her greatest song, one which she wrote with fellow songwriting legend, Bruce Springsteen. In 2010 she took off with her writing career, where she wrote her Only Kids autobiography which earned her a National Book Award. She is recognized as one of the “Greatest Artists” by Rolling Stones magazine.
Madonna – $590 million
Greatest Hits: Like a Prayer, Like a Prayer, Hung Up, Vogue
The Queen of Pop Herself, Madonna, has been a pioneering and revolutionary figure in pop music for decades. She has enjoyed her fair share of controversy thanks to her provocative music videos and songs contents. From 1979 onwards, Madonna began striving to take her musical career off. She dabbled with many different creative projects before she was eventually signed by Sire Records in 1982. Her most popular tracks include Confessions on a Dance Floor, Like a Virgin, Vogue, and Ray of Light, among so many others.
Fats Domino – $8 million
Greatest Hits: Lady Madonna, Ain’t That a Shame, Jambalaya
New Orleans has produced many phenomenal artists, with Fats Domino being one of its most celebrated. He pioneered much of what we understand rock ‘n roll as today, not to mention his influences in R&B. With 11 top ten hits and record sales number 65 million, Fats has 35 albums in the top 40 billboard charts. Unfortunately for Fats, his reclusive nature and lack of public presence hurt his popularity and recognition. In 1949, Fats released The Fat Man, which would sell one million copies, a first for a rock ‘n roll artist.
Kurt Cobain – $50 million
Greatest Hits: Sappy, Smells Like Teen Spirit
Generation X was largely shaped by one man, Kurt Cobain, and his band, Nirvana. The singer and lead guitarist of the three-man outfit formed Nirvana in 1987 along with Krist Novoselic and Aaron Burckhard. The Seattle grunge scene was headed by the band, but only after the release of their second album, which contained the iconic song that defined a generation, Smells Like Teen Spirit. DGC signed Nirvana and they then enjoyed incredible commercial success. Not that Cobain was satisfied with the success, given that his influence was being misunderstood.
Walter Becker – $20 million
Greatest Hits: Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, Do It Again
Steely Dan consisted of two heads, Donald Fagan and Walter Becker. Becker was a multi-talented musician and songwriter who played the bass and guitar for many different rock and jazz outfits. While studying at Bard College, Becker encountered Donald Fagan, which resulted in the two flocking to Los Angeles to form Steely Dan. After releasing many superb albums, Steely Dan sadly ended and Becker decided to make a home in Hawaii with his fortune. He then began producing records and enlisted with the British band, China Crisis. In 1993, Steely Dan has revived thanks to Donald’s efforts.
Tom Waits – $25 million
Greatest Hits: Somewhere, Closing Time
The Californian singer-songwriter, Tom Waits, is famous for his punk flair and unique grungy elements. It was during the 1970s that Waits became proficient in jazz, not forgetting about his strong vaudeville and blues streaks. Bob Dylan and The Beat Generation influenced Waits greatly. He commenced singing in San Diego and then transferred to Los Angeles where was taken in with an asylum deal. Closing Time, Small Change, and Saturday Night’s Heart are among his best hits.
Dan Penn – $1 million
Greatest Hits: The Dark End of the Street, Cry Like a Baby
The 1960s saw the songwriter Dan Penn flourish, where he wrote some incredible tracks like Do Right Woman, The Dark End of the Street, and Cry Like a Baby. Chips Moman, Spooner Oldham, and The Box Tops were some of the other leading artists that Penn collaborated with. Penn preferred to avoid the spotlight, choosing to compose over performances. Penn and Chips Moman enjoyed a brief and turbulent but successful collaboration while working with Press Publishing Company.