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10 Famous Musicians Who Ended Up Broke

Most music lovers would be surprised if they got news about their favorite artists going broke and declaring bankruptcy. Despite the fact that the music industry is a world where one can easily earn a lot of money, bankruptcy is just around the corner as an easy way to be released from an unfair mutual agreement. Some musicians are forced to file bankruptcy to deal with a huge amount of debt. One of the saddest things about having big and unending debts is that individuals facing these kinds of problems feel that they are alone and that nobody can help them except themselves. This goes to show that anybody, from all aspects of life, can experience this kind of thing.

No matter how hard they try to get these two things to work together — fame and fortune, these two things are not always going to be on the same path. Many musicians out there who at first experience having a lot of albums released, singles that are expected to be in the charts, unending tours and concerts and a lot more, were leading to a loss. The next best thing to understand is that a very famous musician’s total wealth is not always as big as their names. Here are 10 famous musicians who ended up being broke. Many others don’t have happy endings, while others are on the opposite side of the story.

10. MC Hammer

Before going solo and signing with Capitol Records, he pursued the hip-hop genre and formed a Christian rap group then reached the level of stardom. His first hip-hop album sold over ten million copies and he was earning about $33 million a year. But MC Hammer was not very wise in the uses of his money. He was extravagant and spent lavishly on things that weren’t necessary. For that, he filed for bankruptcy in 1996 with a crushing debt of over $13 million.

It was in the news that he had 200 people surrounding him and paying out a total of $500,000 for their salary per month just to support everyone. He had a big mansion with gold plated gates, to be specific a 40,000 square foot house and surrounding grounds that consisted of two swimming pools, Italian marble floors, a huge recording studio, 33-seat theater, a garage that could fit 20 cars, multiple tennis courts, and a baseball diamond. He even established his own stable that would house his 19 racehorses. A single horse of such great caliber is said to be worth a million each. His transportation included a private jet, two helicopters, a Lamborghini and a stretch limousine. There were also some lawsuits filed against him because of the claimed rip off of an iconic song that was used in his famous song “U Can’t Touch This.” With this, there’s a cut of massive royalty and ownership for his part.

9. Michael Jackson

The King of Pop, no other Michael Jackson himself was considered one of the world’s richest artists in the history of the music industry. At one point, he was tormented by troubles of his wealth after many years. Even though he is used to having the best selling albums of all time, which sold millions of copies all over the world, the artist’s spending habits become unbearable to handle. He apparently had a habit of borrowing money to pay for living expenses and in return wasn’t generating money. It may relieve financial distress for some time, but it will never be good for the long term.

Some say a total of $500 million debt is the amount Michael Jackson supposedly has to pay or cover before he left this world? Sadly this is true. At the time of his death, Michael Jackson still had huge assets and liabilities, but the problem was the awful and disturbing way of handling money or cash flow. For a very long time, he used to borrow money against the value of it all and so at the time of his unexpected death, an amount of about $2.5 million was all that he actually had. For some, it may be enough to cover the expenses for a lifetime, but for a high profile person like him, it was not enough.

8. Marvin Gaye

This legendary “Prince of Soul” recording artist filed for bankruptcy during the time when he was popular and loved by a lot of people. He filed a bankruptcy case after going through a divorce settlement with his ex-wife Anna Gordy Gaye, the daughter of Motown owner Berry Gordy. Gaye had to pay royalties from his next album, to which ironically, the content of his songs was all about experiencing the sorrow of break-ups and feelings of depression caused by heartaches. It is said that it amounted to around $600,000 according to one source. This is a common conception that a large amount of money is spent, especially during the divorce process and the aftermath itself.

To say it all, a combination of divorce and drug problems started it all and according to reports, he ended up living in a van in Hawaii for days and weeks. His addiction to cocaine was another big cause of his failure, not only to his music but mainly to his entire life. The saddest thing happened to him when his own father, Marvin Gaye, Sr. shot him to death. A heated argument lead to the shooting and death in 1984, a day before he was supposed to turn 45.

7. Toni Braxton

She filed for bankruptcy twice. The first time was in 1998 because of credit card bills and high living monthly expenses. Years after, her career was thought to be jump-started because of the release of an album, but on the other side of the story, financial woes continued because of health issues. She was supposedly on schedule for concerts and tours, but cancellations took place and this lead to no recourse but to declare bankruptcy for the second time in 2010. Toni Braxton sang with the R&B trio group TLC and was once signed with Arista’s LaFace Records.

Her career single “Unbreak My Heart” in 1996 paved way to give her a platinum record in the UK, US and four other countries. It turned out that she only earned $1,265 in royalties for selling $170 million in total album sales worldwide. This is all because of the contract signed between her and LA Reid’s LaFace Records that needed her to pay back for the use of the label and all the expenses like wardrobe and clothes, all the details in video shoots, the travel expenses and a lot more. In other words, the more the videos look flashy and got bigger producers on it, they were the ones racking in the money.

6. Lil Kim

In 2008, Brookline Media, the former music label of well-known rapper Lil Kim sued her for about $2.5 million, which legally prevented her from making new music of her own. Her music is mainly hip-hop and this lead to the biggest fraud where it shows a lot of unhealthy financial habits. We can see artists like Lil Kim with expensive cars, wearing fur coats and partying all night long. This idea goes to show that instead of finding ways to rebuild her wealth, she just continued and ruined her own financial status.

Just these recent years, it was on the news that Lil Kim owes approximately $126,725.12 to the Federal Reserve for not paying taxes for about 10 years. She’s not afraid of anyone telling her that she’s continuing her way of not paying tax and that her name will be on the list of celebrities or musicians who owe taxes or not paying at all. To add more, she bought a contemporary home on two acres in 2002, but seemingly she has been struggling to pay the mortgage for years. It was later found out that the house was on the auction block and although foreclosure auctions were delayed, she has to come up with more than enough funds to get the house fully on her own. Quite a big struggle evidently.

5. TLC

Just like the title from one of their popular songs, “Why Life Must Always be Unpretty’ for this R&B trio, TLC. TLC is considered to be one of the greatest girl groups of all time, but they went from topping Billboard charts, to hitting bankruptcy in 1995. They are the R&B group with a number of Grammy awards. But what happened during the year 1995 where they declared bankruptcy with whopping debts up to $3.5 million,when they had 65 million records sold worldwide?

Unfortunately, the millions they made from all the albums and records, as well as the tours around the world weren’t enough to sustain the needs of each member of the group. Reports were being circulated that Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was an alcoholic and that she was in and out of rehabilitation, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins fought two major illnesses, including Sickle Cell Anemia, and an occurrence of a tumor under the brain. This meant she had huge medical bills for hospitals and medications. Lastly, there was mismanagement under Arista’s LaFace Records because of their delayed royalty payments, even if there were proofs of the albums and recording labels that grossed millions. On the eve of the release of another album, Lopes was killed in a car accident while on a spiritual retreat in Honduras.

4. Cyndi Lauper

This 80s icon seemed to have it all before she underwent bankruptcy earlier in her career. She had money, fame and some singles that evidently were in the charts in top positions. She was then a part of a band called Blue Angels. They released an album that was thought to become a success but sadly flopped. Later on, their manager sued the group, which subsequently led to the disbanding of all the members. Little did Cyndi Lauper know that after all she experienced with her group, the aftermath of the event would be the turning point of her career in the music industry.

Right then, she did what it takes to go on a solo career. She sang her heart out at local NY clubs and at the same time her manager was finding ways of getting her a new record deal. Luckily, she got signed with Portrait and went on to record her famous single “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” on her album “She’s So Unusual.” At that time, her career had just begun and the rest is history. The big lesson in Cyndi Lauper’s story is not to give up after bankruptcy happens. Even if the right circumstances are not with you, just keep on trying to achieve your goal.

3. David Crosby

A big name in the early 80s, David Crosby is a well known American singer, musician, songwriter, and actor. He is a legendary member of the group “The Birds” and “Crosby, Stills and Nash” and also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He wrote some songs that still linger in the minds of the many. Songs entitled, “Long Time Gone,” “Eight Miles High” and “Wooden Ships.” He has a lot of talent and that makes him an outstanding musician in history. But what went wrong with David Crosby and led to a point where he filed for bankruptcy?

He blamed drug addiction for everything and it was years in the making. He verbalised that he threw millions of money away on his drug habit over the years. He was in prison with convictions for use of drugs and illegal possession of firearms and weapons charges. It is difficult to make it through these times of difficulties. When he had the chance to get out of jail, he lived in an old friend’s extra bedroom and even borrowed extra old clothes from his friend too. At one time, another friend, Phil Collins, aided with a financial settlement in order for him to undergo a liver transplant in 1994. It was reported that he wanted to get back on track so he toured once again with the old group that he belonged with.

2. Courtney Love

She is more popular as Kurt Cobain’s widow rather than as an artist for making her music herself. Known in the 90s world of rock, she had access to bigger fortunes as being part of the group, “Hole,” as well as being the frontwoman for the group. Love went on to have a successful music career. But she explained that she lost money to a lot of hearings and lawsuits over the years. She has struggled to make her way out of debt since her husband’s suicide in 1994.

Love was said to have been sued by American Express because her husband owed them $352,000 for unpaid credit card bills, but they later settled in court for an undisclosed amount. Since she has been scrutinized because of her mental health in the social media, she underwent psychiatric sessions, and it was later revealed that she was not paying for the therapy at all. She was sued for breach of contract and money due as well. But just last year, Courtney Love finally settled her debts with the IRS (Internal Revenue Service).

1. Mick Fleetwood

Mick Fleetwood is the drummer and a pioneer member of the group “Fleetwood Mac.” He spent a lot of money on cocaine to the tune of $8 million. Cocaine is one hell of a drug as everyone knows. But he continuously spent millions on this addiction throughout the late 70s and early 80s. The rest he put in real estate matters but didn’t generate that much money. It has been stated that he lost count as to how many times he declared bankruptcy.

He has been told to pay his listed debts. He was told to do so by his own personal accountant and he did all of it like nothing really happened. He told in some detail that although he lost count as to how many times he declared bankruptcy, there were some occasions when people close to him, or not, wanted to hand him millions in cash. Needless to say, just think twice about all of the out-of-control spendings. As he said, that everything was real when it comes to getting what one wants, we can always work it out in some ways.

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