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25 Singers Who Left Their Bands and Still Rake In Cash

Gabrielle Olya
·21 mins read

When a musical band or group breaks up, it doesn’t always mean the end of a successful — and profitable — music career for its former members.

Gwen Stefani, Beyoncé Knowles and Paul McCartney all went on to accumulate net worths in the millions — and, in the case of McCartney, billions — after leaving behind the groups that initially made them stars. Find out which former band member is worth the most and what some of the biggest acts in music history are worth today.

Last updated: Oct. 9, 2020

1. Darius Rucker: Hootie & the Blowfish

  • Net worth: $14 million

As the lead singer and rhythm guitarist of Hootie & the Blowfish, Darius Rucker released multiple albums that reached platinum status and even won two Grammys. When Rucker reemerged as a solo artist, he had reinvented himself as a country singer.

Darius Rucker's Solo Career

Nearly two decades after his Grammy wins with Hootie & the Blowfish, Rucker won his first Grammy as a solo artist in 2013 for best country solo performance for his rendition of “Wagon Wheel.” The single is certified eight-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, which translates to an impressive 8 million units sold.

Rucker has released a total of seven solo albums that feature a slew of hits including “This,” “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” and “Homegrown Honey.” He also has a whiskey label and a brand partnership with the golf brand PGX. Rucker has a number of performances lined up for the remainder of 2020.

2. Iggy Pop: The Stooges

  • Net worth: $20 million

Iggy Pop — born James Newell Osterberg — rose to fame as the lead singer of the Stooges, a proto-punk band who released their first album, “The Stooges,” in 1969.

Iggy Pop's Solo Career

Pop kicked off his solo career with his 1977 album, “The Idiot,” and continued recording music over the next four decades.

He also wrote an autobiography, “I Need More,” which came out in 1982. His 2016 release, “Post Pop Depression,” was his first solo album to reach No. 1 on Billboard’s top rock albums chart. He released his latest album, “Free,” in 2019. Pop is currently on tour with his latest album, though some dates have been rescheduled due to the coronavirus.

3. Alice Cooper: Alice Cooper

  • Net worth: $40 million

Before he was Alice Cooper the solo artist, Alice Cooper — born Vincent Damon Furnier — was the frontman of a band with the same name. The group released its debut album, “Pretties for You,” in 1969 and its follow-up album, “Easy Action,” the following year. In 1974, Cooper split off from the rest of the band to launch his solo career.

Alice Cooper's Solo Career

Cooper released his first solo album, “Welcome to My Nightmare,” in 1975. The shock rocker shot up to fame in the late ’70s with the release of his hit single “You & Me” and albums that included “Lace And Whiskey” and “From The Inside.” In 1989, he released “Trash,” which featured the single “Poison” — his bestselling single. It is certified gold by the RIAA.

Outside of music, Cooper appeared on a number of television shows and movies, including 1991’s “Wayne’s World.” He currently tours six months out of the year and hosts a radio show, “Nights With Alice Cooper.” Cooper also recently launched a podcast, “Alice Cooper’s Vintage Vault,” which features interviews with other notable musicians.

4. Billy Idol: Chelsea, Generation X, Gen X

  • Net worth: $50 million

Billy Idol started out as a guitarist for the punk rock group Chelsea before leaving and forming another band, Generation X, in 1976. The group released the songs “Youth Youth Youth” and “Ready Steady Go” before splitting in 1980. Idol and the band’s bassist, Tony James, then spun off into a new band, Gen X, which released the 1980s anthem “Dancing With Myself.” The band soon broke up, however, and Idol embarked on his solo career, rereleasing “Dancing With Myself” as a solo effort.

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Billy Idol's Solo Career

As a solo artist, Idol went on to release a number of hit songs, including “Rebel Yell” and “White Wedding.” He had eight top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including the No. 1 hit “Cradle of Love.” He’s also dabbled in acting, with a role in Oliver Stones’ 1991 film “The Doors,” and released an autobiography, “Dancing With Myself.”

Most recently, Idol rereleased his 1985 album “Vital Idol” as “Vital Idol: Revitalized” in 2018. He is set to perform at a number of festivals later in 2020.

5. Morrissey: The Smiths

  • Net worth: $50 million

In 1982, Morrissey teamed up with guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce to form the Smiths. Over the next four years they released four albums, all of which reached No. 1 or No. 2 on the U.K. charts, according to Biography.com. The band split in 1987, and Morrissey launched his solo career the following year.

Morrissey's Solo Career

Morrissey released his first solo album, “Viva Hate,” in 1988, which has been certified gold by the RIAA. He’s since gone on to release a dozen more. His latest album, “I Am Not a Dog on a Chain,” was released in March 2020. Every album he has released has reached the top 10 on the U.K. charts, Forbes reported.

Morrissey is set to kick off his Las Vegas residency in the summer of 2020.

6. Annie Lennox: Eurythmics

  • Net worth: $60 million

Before becoming a household name on her own, Annie Lennox was one half of Eurythmics, alongside Dave Stewart. The duo made waves with their second album, “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This,” released in 1983.

Annie Lennox's Solo Career

In 1990, Lennox launched her solo career with the release of the album “Diva,” which went on to sell 7 million copies worldwide and included the hit singles “Why” and “Walking on Broken Glass.” She has since released six other solo albums, most recently 2019’s “Lepidoptera.”

7. Ricky Martin: Menudo

  • Net worth: $60 million

Ricky Martin got a taste of fame early — he was just 10 when he joined the Latin boyband Menudo. After performing as the group’s lead singer for five years, he left in 1991 to launch his solo career.

Ricky Martin's Solo Career

Martin crossed over into international superstardom when he recorded “La Copa de la Vida (The Cup of Life),” which became the official song of the FIFA World Cup in 1998. He became known to American audiences when he performed the song at the Grammy Awards and went on to have a thriving music career in the U.S. and around the world. He released his 10th studio album, “A Quien Quiera Escuchar,” in 2015.

Martin released his latest single, “Falta Amor” with Sebastian Yatra, in March 2020 and is set to tour with Yatra and Enrique Iglesias this fall.

In addition to his musical career, Martin has branched into acting with appearances on Broadway and TV, including the Ryan Murphy drama “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.” He has also written an autobiography and a children’s book.

8. Stevie Nicks: Fleetwood Mac

  • Net worth: $75 million

Known for her unique vibrato singing voice, Stevie Nicks rose to fame as part of the rock band Fleetwood Mac, which she joined in 1975. Nicks worked both as a solo act and with Fleetwood Mac until she quit the band at the end of its 1990 tour.

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Stevie Nicks' Solo Career

Nicks’ debut solo album, “Bella Donna,” was released in 1981 and is certified quadruple-platinum. Eight of her other solo releases have also reached platinum status. The “Edge of Seventeen” singer’s latest solo tour, the 24 Karat Gold tour, grossed an estimated $25 million.

Nicks reunited with her old bandmates for a European tour in 2018; she’s set to perform as a solo act at a number of festivals in the coming year.

9. Paul Simon: Simon & Garfunkel

  • Net worth: $75 million

Before recording as a solo artist, Paul Simon gained acclaim as one half of the folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel, which released its debut album in 1964. A year later Simon released a solo album, “The Paul Simon Songbook.” He returned to making records with Simon & Garfunkel until the duo split up in 1970.

Paul Simon's Solo Career

Simon has since released 13 solo albums.

His latest solo album, 2018’s “In the Blue Light,” reached No. 3 on Billboard’s Americana/Folk Albums chart. In addition to profits from album sales, Simon has made big money on the road. His 2014 tour with Sting grossed an estimated $29.5 million, according to Pollstar.

10. Harry Styles: One Direction

  • Net worth: $80 million

A 2010 appearance on “The X Factor” ultimately led Harry Styles to become a part of the wildly successful boyband One Direction. Between 2011 and 2015, the group released five albums and sold millions of records. But by 2016, the group had disbanded following Zayn Malik’s departure.

Harry Styles' Solo Career

Just a few months after One Direction announced their indefinite hiatus, Styles was signed with his own record deal. He released a self-titled solo album in 2017 and his follow-up album, “Fine Line,” in 2019, which became the first No. 1 album of the 2020 decade. The album sold 478,000 units in its first week, making it the third-biggest debut of 2019, Forbes reported.

As a solo artist, Styles has also had two top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart: “Adore You” and “Sign of the Times.” He is set to embark on the Love on Tour 2020 tour this summer.

11. Neil Young: Buffalo Springfield; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

  • Net worth: $80 million

Singer-songwriter Neil Young released his first album as a member of Buffalo Springfield in 1966. The group released hits that included “For What It’s Worth,” “Broken Arrow” and “I Am a Child” and amassed a large following, but Young left the band just two years later in 1968. He released a self-titled album in 1969 but went back to band life as a member of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, which he joined that same year. The band brought Young to new levels of fame, but he left in 1970 to pursue his solo career.

Neil Young's Solo Career

Young has released a whopping 45 solo albums and has sold a total of 17.5 million album units, according to the RIAA.

In February 2020, Young announced that he would be embarking on a new tour, the Crazy Horse Barn Tour. However, his touring plans are currently on hold because he does not want to put his older fans at risk for the coronavirus, he said in March.

12. Gwen Stefani: No Doubt

  • Net worth: $150 million

Gwen Stefani first gained fame on the music scene as the lead singer of No Doubt in the 1990s but decided to go solo in 2004.

Gwen Stefani's Solo Career

Stefani has released four solo albums since departing No Doubt: “Love. Angel. Music. Baby” which was released in 2004 and sold 309,000 copies in its first week; “The Sweet Escape,” released in 2006, which debuted and peaked at No. 3; “This Is What the Truth Feels Like,” which was released in 2016 and earned Stefani her first chart-topper as a solo artist, Billboard reports; and “You Make It Feel Like Christmas,” which was released in 2018 and peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart. She’s also had hugely profitable tours — Stefani’s 2007 Sweet Escape solo tour earned $55 million in gross ticket sales, according to Forbes.

The “Hollaback Girl” singer has also raked in some serious cash outside of her music career. Other business interests include her L.A.M.B. clothing line, the Harajuku Lovers fragrance collection and even an eyeglass collection — gx by Gwen Stefani. In addition, she has appeared as a judge on the reality singing competition show “The Voice.” After wrapping up her Las Vegas residency, Stefani will be heading on an international tour this summer.

13. Robert Plant: Led Zeppelin

  • Net worth: $170 million

Robert Plant is best known as the lead singer of the iconic rock band Led Zeppelin, but he’s also had an extensive solo career spanning over 30 years.

Robert Plant's Solo Career

Plant released his first solo album, “Pictures at Eleven,” in 1982. It has since gone platinum. Plant has had 15 solo albums on the Billboard 200 album chart, including eight in the top 10.

His highest-charting release was the Grammy Award-winning “Raising Sand” with Alison Krause, which reached No. 2 and sold 1.6 million copies in the U.S. The rock legend released his latest album, “Carry Fire,” in 2017.

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14. Pharrell Williams: The Neptunes, N*E*R*D

  • Net worth: $150 million

Before launching his own singing career, Pharrell Williams worked behind the scenes as part of the music production team the Neptunes. The Neptunes produced a number of hits in the early 2000s, including Jay-Z’s “I Just Wanna Love U,” Britney Spears’ “I’m a Slave 4 U” and Nelly’s “Hot in Herre.” In 2001, Williams released his own music as the frontman for the funk-rock group N*E*R*D.

Pharrell Williams' Solo Career

Williams didn’t go solo until 2006 when he released the album “In My Mind,” featuring his hit single “Frontin’.” In 2014, Williams’ single “Happy” reached triple platinum status with 1.8 million units sold. It’s then that his net worth really started growing. In addition to earning money making music and touring, Williams has been a judge on “The Voice” and has two clothing lines, Billionaire Boys Club and ICECREAM.

15. Lionel Richie: The Commodores

  • Net worth: $200 million

Lionel Richie got his start as a singer, pianist and saxophone player for the Commodores, who released their first single, “Machine Gun,” in 1974. Seven years later he decided to start a solo career.

Lionel Richie's Solo Career

Lionel Richie went on to have 12 top 10 hits between 1981 and 1987 and three No. 1 albums over the course of his career. Albums that reached the top include his latest studio release, 2012’s “Tuskegee,” which sold 789,000 units that year.

The “Dancing on the Ceiling” singer continues to tour, with upcoming dates set for summer 2020.

16. Ozzy Osbourne: Black Sabbath

  • Net worth: $220 million

As a founding member of Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne is credited with being one of the creators of the heavy metal genre. Following the band’s tour for its eighth album, “Never Say Die!,” Osbourne quit the band in 1978.

Ozzy Osbourne's Solo Career

As a solo artist, Osbourne has placed 15 albums on the U.K. Top 40 charts. He launched the musical festival Ozzfest in 1996, then went on to gain fame with an entirely new audience as the star of the MTV reality show “The Osbournes,” which ran on the network from 2002 to 2005. Osbourne’s family was reportedly paid $20 million for the show’s second season.

Osbourne released his latest album, “Ordinary Man,” in 2020 — 10 years after his previous release. He will be touring throughout Europe on his No More Tours 2 tour beginning in the fall.

17. Diana Ross: The Supremes

  • Net worth: $250 million

Diana Ross first gained acclaim in the 1960s as the lead singer of the Supremes, a Motown Records vocal group with a long list of hit singles. She decided to go solo in 1970.

Diana Ross' Solo Career

Ross went on to place 40 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, with six reaching No. 1. After leaving Motown, Ross signed a seven-year deal with RCA for $20 million. When that contract ran out, she returned to her original label in 1989.

Ross also has had success as an actress, starring as Billie Holiday in 1972’s “Lady Sings the Blues” — for which she earned an Oscar nomination — and as Dorothy in 1978’s “The Wiz.” The “I’m Coming Out” singer has recorded and toured regularly over the course of her career and performed in the Super Bowl halftime show in 1996.

18. Justin Timberlake: 'N Sync

  • Net worth: $250 million

After a successful run on “The New Mickey Mouse Club,” Justin Timberlake rose to superstardom as a member of the boyband ‘N Sync in the mid-to-late ’90s. In 2002, Timberlake struck out on his own as a solo artist.

Justin Timberlake's Solo Career

Timberlake has released five solo albums, including his latest release, “Man of the Woods,” in 2018, which landed in the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 upon release, Forbes reported. In 2019, he ranked No. 41 on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list with $57.5 million in earnings for the year, much of which came from his 13-month Man of the Woods Tour. The concert tour sold 1.7 million tickets and grossed over $225 million.

He also brings in cash from his endorsement deals, including one with Bai Brands; he became the company’s chief flavor officer in 2016. Timberlake also has his own line of tequila with Sauza.

19. Phil Collins: Genesis

  • Net worth: $260 million

Phil Collins launched his solo career in 1981 after gaining success as a member of Genesis. He continued to juggle being a part of Genesis with his solo work until he finally quit the band in 1996.

Phil Collins' Solo Career

The “In the Air Tonight” singer has sold 33.5 million records worldwide as a solo artist, according to the RIAA. Collins has released nine solo albums and written a bestselling memoir.

Although he announced his retirement in 2011, Collins said in 2016 that he was coming out of retirement for his 2017 Not Dead Yet comeback tour. When tickets for the tour went on sale they sold out in 15 seconds, with resale sites selling tickets for more than $2,900.

After years of solo success, Collins will be reuniting with his Genesis bandmates for an upcoming tour around the United Kingdom and Ireland, which kicks off in November 2020.

20. Eric Clapton: The Yardbirds, The Bluesbreakers, Cream and Blind Faith

  • Net worth: $300 million

Eric Clapton performed as a member of the Yardbirds, the Bluesbreakers, Cream and Blind Faith before kicking off his solo career in 1970.

Eric Clapton's Solo Career

Fifty years later, the singer, songwriter and guitar great is still touring. From 2000 to 2009, his tours grossed $139.3 million, according to Pollstar. Clapton’s two March 2017 performances in Madison Square Garden alone grossed an incredible $7.5 million, according to Venues Today.

Clapton is one of the bestselling music artists of all time, with 40 million albums sold in his career, according to the RIAA. He made history as the only person to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame three times: as a solo artist and as a member of the Yardbirds and Cream.

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21. Rod Stewart: Jeff Beck Group, The Faces

  • Net worth: $300 million

Singer and songwriter Rod Stewart launched his professional music career as a member of the Jeff Beck Group in the late 1960s and later joined The Faces before breaking out as a solo artist.

Rod Stewart's Solo Career

Stewart wrote several of his own biggest hits, including “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” and “Forever Young.” He’s released 31 solo albums, most recently 2019’s “You’re in My Heart: Rod Stewart with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.” His latest release became his 10th No. 1 album on the U.K. charts, which tied him with Michael Jackson for the fifth-most No. 1 albums in history among all acts, Forbes reported. His solo career has spanned over 50 years, during which time he’s sold over 250 million records worldwide.

Stewart is set to embark on a North American tour this summer, followed by a return to Las Vegas for his residency, “Rod Stewart: The Hits.”

22. Sting: The Police

  • Net worth: $400 million

Sting — born Gordon Sumner — played in a few bands before hitting it big with the Police in 1978 with the release of their debut album, “Outlandos d’Amour.” The Police decided to go their separate ways at the end of their Synchronicity tour in March 1984, and Sting released his first solo album the following year.

Sting's Solo Career

Sting has taken home 10 Grammys since leaving the Police. His most popular solo album, 1999’s “Brand New Day,” sold 8 million copies and preceded his longest tour ever. He performed close to 300 shows in 45 countries to nearly 3 million people in support of the hit album.

23. Gloria Estefan: Miami Sound Machine

  • Net worth: $500 million

Gloria Estefan first joined the Miami Sound Machine in 1977 as a part-time member when she was still in college but was an official member when the band scored a major record deal in 1980. In 1985, the group achieved crossover success with the song “Conga.” Although she didn’t officially leave the group, Estefan soon became the band’s main attraction and their 1987 album release, “Let It Loose,” was billed under Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine, NPR reported.

Gloria Estefan's Solo Career

Following “Let It Loose,” Estefan released the album “Cuts Both Ways” under just her name — though she was still backed by the Miami Sound Machine. The album marked the beginning of her solo career, which has included a number of hit singles and numerous Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 songs, like “Coming Out of the Dark” and “Don’t Wanna Lose You.” Estefan has sold 100 million albums worldwide and has earned a number of awards as both a singer and a songwriter.

Estefan has parlayed her musical success into a number of other ventures as well. Along with her husband Emilio, Gloria has a multimedia entertainment company, a Cuban restaurant, several hotels and a line of spices and other kitchen goods. In addition, the couple serves as executive producers of the Broadway musical “On Your Feet!,” which is based on their lives and music.

24. Beyoncé Knowles: Destiny's Child

  • Net worth: $500 million

Going solo after the demise of Destiny’s Child in 2005 proved to be a lucrative decision for Beyoncé Knowles. The singer was named No. 20 on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list for 2019, with earnings of $81 million for the year.

Beyoncé Knowles' Solo Career

Knowles has sold 15 million album units as a solo artist, and her On The Run II stadium tour with husband Jay-Z grossed more than $250 million. The show brought in an average of $5 million per night, Forbes reported.

Knowles also has a clothing line, Ivy Park, which she recently relaunched with Adidas, and has several endorsement deals. She reportedly signed a $4.7 million contract with L’Oreal and a $50 million multiyear deal with Pepsi. The megastar has also worked as an actress, starring in 2002’s “Austin Powers in Goldmember” and 2016’s “Dreamgirls.”

25. Paul McCartney: The Beatles

  • Net worth: $1.2 billion

Not only is Paul McCartney a member of the top-selling musical act of all time, the Beatles, he’s also the most successful songwriter in the history of popular music, according to Guinness World Records.

Paul McCartney's Solo Career

Post-Beatles, McCartney has put out 31 albums either as a solo act or with the band Wings, starting with 1970’s “McCartney.” His most recent album, “Egypt Station,” was released in 2018.

In 2016, McCartney was named the top U.K. album seller of all time with 22 albums reaching the No. 1 spot, including solo albums “McCartney II” in 1980, “Tug of War” in 1982, “Give My Regards to Broad Street” in 1984 and “Flowers in the Dirt” in 1989.

McCartney’s solo tours have been successful as well. His tours grossed $221.4 million from 2000 to 2009, according to Pollstar. McCartney’s recent tours have also been extremely lucrative — he grossed $17.8 million from four South American shows in 2019 and grosses an average of $4 million per tour stop, Forbes reported.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 25 Singers Who Left Their Bands and Still Rake In Cash