Is Paul McCartney the Richest Rock Star of All Time?

If you do some simple math, you start to see the staggering wealth Paul McCartney accumulated over the years. Start with his earnings with The Beatles, in which McCartney was the primary songwriter along with John Lennon.

The band shattered records for concert ticket and album sales and stands as the best-selling artist in history. By worldwide sales, The Beatles have sold over 600 million albums. (More than 1.6 billion Beatles singles have been bought since the group debuted in 1963.)

After the end of The Beatles, McCartney kept touring and recording. Flashing forward to this decade, he made over $50 million for a single year’s work (2015).

Throw in an inheritance possibly worth $200 million — on top of a net worth of $500 million from the previous decade — and you’re looking at one of the richest people who’s ever played an instrument professionally.

In fact, McCartney, who turned 76 in June, may very well be the richest rock star who’s ever lived.

$350 million in earnings from 2010-16

Paul McCartney of The Beatles tries his luck on a slot machine in Las Vegas, 20 August 1964, during the band’s first US Tour. | Harry Benson/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A 2016 report by Forbes highlighted the type of earnings McCartney brings in to this day. In the previous 12 months, he had earned $56.6 million from touring and album sales.

Racking up his take from the decade (2010-16), Forbes pegged McCartney’s earnings at $350 million pre-tax. That put him among the richest celebrities of the period on several occasions.

However, he’d been on his march to billionaire status a decade before. At the time of his wife Linda’s death in 2000, McCartney had an estimated net worth of $500 million.

The BBC declined to speculate on Linda’s estate value at the time (some said it exceeded $200 million), but the news service noted her food business alone was worth $60 million per year. (In 2019 dollars, that would be $87.5 million.)

Linda McCartney left her entire state to her husband and, because of her dual citizenship, Paul was able to receive it without paying any British tax. By the start of this decade, publications began estimating his net worth over $800 million. As of 2019, it’s increased to more than $1 billion.

McCartney’s net worth of $1.2 billion makes him the richest rock star ever.

Paul McCartney performs on stage during “12-12-12 ~ The Concert For Sandy Relief” December 12, 2012 at Madison Square Garden in New York. | Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

If you looked at the list of richest musicians of all time a few years back, you’d find Broadway composer Andrew Lloyd Webber ($1.2 billion) at the top. However, McCartney’s relentless touring and nonstop royalties have pushed him into billionaire territory.

As of 2019, estimates peg his net worth at $1.2 billion. Since Lloyd Webber is no rocker, there is no doubt that McCartney is the richest rock star who ever lived. (He may have surpassed Webber as the richest musician, anyway.)

Would John Lennon have given him a run for his money had he lived? Since we don’t know how much recording and touring Lennon would have done, it ‘s impossible to say. But we know for sure Paul McCartney has made every year count.

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