The guitar is one of the most iconic instruments in music history. While fame does not always lead to fortune, the guitarists who have made it to the top of the music game often end up becoming exceptionally wealthy. From rock legends of the 1960s to today’s modern pop stars, guitar heroes can rake in massive fortunes throughout their careers.
Let’s take a look at the 10 richest guitarists globally, ordered purely by their staggering net worths. While there are certainly honorable mentions, these six-string titans stand at the peak of financial success.
Dave Matthews: $300 Million
Kicking off the list is acoustic guitar-totting frontman Dave Matthews. As the leader of the Dave Matthews Band since the early 90s, his group pioneered a distinctive folk-rock style reliant on live improvisation. Raking in cash through extensive touring rather than record sales, DMB remains a perennial live draw. Currently, at age 56, Matthews sits comfortably on a net worth of $300 million.
Dave Grohl: $320 Million
Dave Grohl transitioned from playing drums in the legendary grunge band Nirvana to taking the mic and guitar as the frontman for Foo Fighters following Kurt Cobain’s death. The band has since become massively successful across decades, thanks to hits like “My Hero,” “Times Like These,” and “Best of You.” Grohl’s estimated $320 million net worth puts him among the world’s richest drummers and guitarists alike.
Gene Simmons: $400 Million
Outlandish rock persona Gene Simmons earned his vast fortune primarily as the bassist and co-vocalist of the band Kiss. Known for hits like “Detroit Rock City” and “Calling Dr. Love,” Kiss was a pioneering force merging spectacle and music into a potent rock cocktail. Between album sales exceeding 100 million and thousands of officially licensed products, from lunchboxes to caskets sporting the Kiss logo, Mr. Simmons continues kissing his way to the bank to the tune of $400 million in net worth by age 73.
The Edge: $400 Million
David Evans, in the rock world, is known only by his stage name, The Edge. As guitarist for legendary Irish rock band U2, The Edge pioneered a whole new sound built around effects-drenched rhythmic chiming. Responsible for writing many of U2’s biggest hits, The Edge has accumulated $400 million over a career stretching over four decades and counting.
Jon Bon Jovi: $410 Million
As namesake and frontman for stadium rock powerhouse Bon Jovi, Jon has shifted over 130 million albums worldwide. Hits like “Livin’ on a Prayer,” “Wanted Dead or Alive,” and “It’s My Life” cement his status as a pop culture icon. While still actively touring large venues today, Jon Bon Jovi has expanded his fortune via acting roles and various investments outside music, bringing his net worth to an estimated $410 million.
Eric Clapton: $450 Million
Among rock’s most celebrated guitar heroes, Eric Clapton first earned fame with bands like Cream and Derek and the Dominos before kicking off an even more successful solo career spanning over five decades so far. With classic rock staples like “Layla” and “Wonderful Tonight” under his belt, Clapton’s guitar prowess has earned him an impressive net worth of $450 million to go with his heaping 18 Grammy awards.
Keith Richards: $500 Million
Keith Richards, lead guitarist and co-lead vocalist for the immortal Rolling Stones, has secured a net worth estimated at over $500 million. With smash hits from “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” to “Start Me Up” fueling stadium tours even today, the 78-year-old guitar slinger shows no signs of slowing his cash flow anytime soon. Known for pioneering dirty guitar tones and memorable riffs, Richards has the money to back up his status as a rock icon.
Bruce Springsteen: $650 Million
Representing the “heartland” rock music genre, few artists embody Americana quite like Bruce Springsteen. With smash hits like “Born in the USA,” “Glory Days,” and “Dancing in the Dark,” he remains a stadium-filling star act today, aged 73. Having sold over 135 million albums globally plus his massively popular autobiographical Broadway show, Springsteen is cemented in history both artistically and financially with his $650 million net worth.
Jimmy Buffett: $900 Million
While known musically for laid-back “tropical” acoustic rockers like “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” Jimmy Buffett has amassed the bulk of his wealth outside of music. Owning the thriving restaurant chain Margaritaville and multiple lucrative hotels and casinos, his business empire approaches total dominance of the island vacation industry. With a current net worth of $900 million, he shows no sign of retiring as pop culture’s favorite beach bum.
Paul McCartney: $1.2 Billion
Claiming his spot at the top as the wealthiest guitarist on the planet, Sir Paul McCartney boasts an unbelievable net worth today of $1.2 billion. As a former Beatle and Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer through his solo work, he has sold over 100 million albums, including co-writing many of history’s most powerful songs. Between album sales, touring, songwriting royalties, and his successful run as a business tycoon through diverse investments, we are unlikely to ever see another musician stack paper quite like the legendary Paul McCartney has.
These inspiring musicians and guitar heroes prove that massive fame and fortune can indeed come from passionately playing rock, pop, or folk songs over a bed of six strings and wood. While the list features older icons who have had more time to build wealth, the amounts they have accumulated remain staggering nonetheless. With rock pioneers securely occupying places among the world’s richest celebrities, the relationship between guitar prowess and prosperity continues to go strong today. So pick up those guitars and start practicing—financial security like these legends enjoy may only be a hit single away!