Famous Musicians Who Went Completely Broke

The stories of celebrities going broke after earning fortunes are rampant in the entertainment industry. The filthy rich lifestyle and the sudden massive fame have tested many and numerous celebrities failed in maintaining their riches.

There have also been several famous musicians that dropped from the heights of glory into the pits of bankruptcy. In this article today, we are going to list a few hugely successful musicians that became broke after getting exceptionally rich through their careers.

Marvin Gaye

The soulful singer behind the hit song, ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’, Marvin Gaye faced some significant ups and downs in his music career. With a massive success of his album ‘What’s Going On’, Marvin Gaye became a box office hit and produced successful tracks and albums one after the other.

However, unlike his music career, Gaye’s love life didn’t see much success. He was hit with a divorce case by his wife Anna Gordy, daughter of Motown owner Berry Gordy, after being accused of having an extra-marital affair. He was known to have two children from the affair.

He had to go through a divorce settlement soon after which Gaye filed for bankruptcy. He had little to no money for the divorce settlement. He was in financial distress and could not pay the alimony and child support expenses.

Even though he had an amazing and fruitful music career, his bank account was washed-out due to his unnecessarily lavish lifestyle. Consequentially, Anna agreed to settle with $600,000 in future royalties from his upcoming album. However, the album was a box office disaster and failed to bag any success at all. It is known that Gaye’s financial problems were also because of his drug and other substance addictions.

Marvin Gaye was tragically shot dead by his own father after a heated debate, on the afternoon of 1st April 1984.

MC Hammer

Stanley Kirk Burrell, famously known as MC Hammer, is recognized as the first mainstream rapper of the industry. With his hit song ‘U Can’t Touch This’, Hammer created massive success in the year 1990. His album ‘Please Hammer Don’t Hurt E’m’ also became a huge hit with sales of over ten million. It was this time when Hammer was known to be earning around $33 million each year. However, just like his earnings, his spending was also immensely huge.

Hammer was known to own a mansion with gold plated gates which had a worth of $30 million. The house had Italian marble flooring, a massive recording studio, a spacious garage that could park 20 cars, multiple tennis courts, two swimming pools, and many such lavish amenities. He also owned a stable that had a total of 19 horses with each valuing around $19 million. Hammer was known to also own two helicopters, a private jet, a limousine, and a Lamborghini for his use.

With all this extravagant spending, Hammer found himself burdened by a debt of $13.7 million. His fame didn’t stay with him for long, and before he knew it the only assets, he was left with amounted to only $9.6 million; clearly not enough to finance his debt payments.

Consequentially, Hammer had to file for bankruptcy in 1996.  He owed the Internal Revenue Service an amount of $100,000, half a million dollars to Deion Sanders of the Dallas Cowboys and half a million in legal charges. He also had some lawsuits filed against him accusing him of copying an iconic track in his hit song ‘U Can’t Touch This.’

Michael Jackson

It might be surprising for many, but yes, Michael Jackson, the moonwalk star had to deal with bankruptcy. Even though he never officially filed for bankruptcy, sources have confirmed that with his unexpected demise, Jackson, left behind a massive debt of somewhere between $400 to $500 million.

Jackson made a fortune through his music career and a fruitful move to take-over ATV Music, the label that had the rights to several popular Beatles songs. The acquisition added up to Jackson’s wealth and helped him make millions in royalties.

However, Michael Jackson was known to be habitual of an extravagant lifestyle. Even though he earned millions through his songs and albums, Jackson soon became indebted. He carelessly spent all the wealth he accumulated through the success of his record labels. He was known to regularly borrow money from his friends to finance his lavish lifestyle. This was later realized to be a habit Jackson had developed.

Michael Jackson also had several child molestation cases filed against him. Because of this added with his disturbing borrowing habits and an irrational cashflow management, Jackson was under a massive debt when he left the world on June 25th, 2009.

Toni Braxton

Toni Braxton’s single ‘Un-break My Heart’ became a massive success during 1996. However, despite selling 25 million albums worldwide, Braxton could only make $1,265 in royalties due to contract complications. It was in 1998 that Braxton first filed for bankruptcy.

Having huge credit card bills amounting to $20,000 and monthly living expenses around $43,000, Tony Braxton could not keep up in terms of earning money. However, fighting her way out of the financial distress, Braxton released a new album ‘The Heat.’ Just when things started looking good for her in terms of her musical career, Braxton was diagnosed with serious health problems. In April 2008, she was hospitalized for severe chest pains. As a result of her grave health condition, Braxton had to cancel her concerts and shows.

The cancellation pushed her into debts amounting to millions of dollars. Consequentially, in October 2010, Tony Braxton had to file for bankruptcy for the second time in her career.

David Crosby

Singer, songwriter, and musician, David Crosby is known to be the founding member of two of the famous 60s band: ‘The Byrds’ and ‘Crosby, Stills, and Nash.’ Crosby along with the group became a massive hit, however, soon the group broke apart with each singer moving on to make their solo careers in music. Crosby wrote many iconic singles such as ‘Long Time Gone’, Eight Miles High’ and ‘Wooden Ships.’ Much of his career during the 70s and 80s was spent writing and composing songs. However, this was also the time when Crosby got addicted to cocaine and heroin. As a result of his addictions, Crosby’s behavior became out of control and he got involved in various felonies.

Crosby was arrested for hit-and-run driving; illegal ownership of concealed firearm and possession of drugs. He admitted that his addiction to drugs made him unwisely spend millionsof dollars. All this negatively affected Crosby’s singing career with him eventually filing for bankruptcy.

Meat Loaf

Originally named as Marvin Lee Aday, Meat Loaf and his album ‘Bat Out of Hell’ gained a massive success during 1977. The album became a classic and shared ranking with other iconic albums of music history such as Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. The singer also produced many successful songs as ‘Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad’ and ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’.

During the making of his second album, Meat lost his voice and could not continue with the recording until 1981. However, it got too late as much of his fame had already died down. His next album, Dead Ringer, could not gain much popularity and had very few sales. By 1963, Meat Loaf was in $1.6 million in liability which resulted in him filing for bankruptcy.

However, 1993 saw the rise of Meat Loaf’s popularity. His album ‘Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell’ was ranked as number one.

As a result of frivolous spending, many celebrities ended up being broke even after earning millions through their music careers. Poor cash management, lavish lifestyles, and substance addictions have been the reason behind many musician’s steep fall from glory.