Best known for his works as the lead vocalist and lyricist of Guns N’ Roses, American hard rock music artist, Axl Rose, is not just one of the richest rock stars but has been one of the greatest rockers to grace the music industry since the ’80s. As of 2020, he has accumulated a massive net worth of $200 million despite his childhood being marred by domestic violence, alleged molestations, oppressive upbringing, and delinquent behavior which led to him serving a three months jail term.
The vast portion of his wealth has unarguably come through music; from album sales and tour revenues. Rose and his bandmates still hold the record for the best-selling debut album of all time in the United States: their first album ‘Appetite for Destruction’ has sold over 18 million units in the country and more than 30 million copies around the world. In all, the band has sold over 100 million records. Aside from that, the renowned artist is also earning massively from acting and movie soundtracks.
What Album Sales Contributed to Axl Rose’s $200 Million Net Worth
His Band Made Over $40 Million from the Sale of their First Two Albums
A co-founder of Guns N’ Roses (GNR), Axl has achieved great success with Duff Mckagan (bassist), Slash (lead guitarist), Izzy Stradlin (rhythm guitarist), and Steven Adler (drummer). Their debut album, ‘Appetite for Destruction’, was released on July 21st, 1987. It wasn’t an instant hit as it only became a smash album a year later when it peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200.
After its initial slow sales, the album went on to achieve a rare feat by selling over 18 million units in the United States and over 30 million copies worldwide. Hence, becoming the best-selling debut album of all time, the eleventh best-selling album of all time, and one of the best-selling records of all time. Having produced the album with an estimated budget of $370,000, Appetite for Destruction raked in over $30 million from album sales.
Following the enormous success of their first album, Axl Rose and his bandmates dropped their second studio album, ‘G N’ R Lies’, in 1988. This was also a commercial success as it peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200 and sold over 5 million copies in the US and a total of 10 million copies worldwide. Its lead single, ‘Patience’, reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album generated over $10 million in revenue.
Their Double Album Released in 1991 Were Mega Hits
Before going on hiatus in 1994, the metal rock band released its third and fourth studio albums, ‘Use Your Illusion I’ and ‘Use Your Illusion II’ the same day on September 17th, 1991. Both albums debuted at No. 2 and No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200, respectively. This made them the only group to achieve such a feat. ‘Use Your Illusion I’ sold 685,000 copies in its first week and 5,502,000 units in the United States as of 2010. Its other achievements include attaining a 7-times platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and earning a Grammy Award nomination in 1992.
On the other hand, ‘Use Your Illusion II’ sold 770,000 copies in its first week and 5,587,000 units in the United States as of 2010. Aside from peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200, ‘Use Your Illusion II’ also clinched the No. 1 spot on the UK Albums Chart for one week. So far, both albums have sold a combined 35 million copies worldwide and grossed a combined fortune of over $34 million.
Subsequently, Axl Rose and his bandmates released their fifth studio album, ‘The Spaghetti Incident?’ on November 3rd, 1993. The album debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 and sold 190,000 copies in its first week. It achieved RIAA platinum certification on January 26th, 1994.
After a Long Hiatus, Axl Rose Still Cashed-in Heavily from Album Sales
Following the rock and roll icon’s long break and several reshuffling of his band’s formation, the group dropped their long-awaited sixth album, ‘Chinese Democracy’, on November 23rd, 2008; about a decade and a half after their last album release. The album debuted at No. 3 and No. 2 on the US Billboard 200 and UK Album Charts respectively, selling 261,000 copies in its first week. From the second week, its US sales dropped drastically, as it went from No. 3 to No. 18 on the Billboard chart.
Nonetheless, ‘Chinese Democracy’ became certified platinum by the RIAA on February 3rd, 2009. It also attained triple platinum certification in Canada, as well as platinum certification in countries such as Australia, Argentina, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. The album further achieved gold certification in France, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, Hungary, and Brazil.
Despite its poor sales compared to the group’s other albums, ‘Chinese Democracy’ won several accolades including the IFPI European Platinum Award (for selling over a million copies in Europe) and emerged MySpace’s most-streamed album ever with over three million streams. In addition to gaining over 24 million digital streams, Chinese Democracy sold over 6.5 million copies worldwide. Thus, fetching over $6 million for Axl Rose and his band, increasing their wealth in the process.
A Highlight of His Highest-selling Works
- Appetite for Destruction (1987) – sold over 30 million copies
- Sweet Child o’ Mine (1987) – sold over 2 million copies
- G N’ R Lies (1988) – sold over 11 million copies
- Use Your Illusion I (1991) – sold over 19 million copies
- Use Your Illusion II (1991) – sold over 20 million copies
- The Spaghetti Incident? (1993) – sold over 5 million copies
- Compilation Album Greatest Hits (2004) – sold over 13 million copies
- Chinese Democracy (2008) – sold over 6.5 million copies
A Recap of Axl Rose’s Revenues from Album Sales
- Appetite for Destruction (1987) – $30 million
- G N’ R Lies (1988) – $11 million
- Use Your Illusion I (1991) – $19 million
- Use Your Illusion II (1991) – $20 million
- The Spaghetti Incident? (1993) – $5 million
- Compilation Album Use Your Illusion (1998) – $1 million
- Live Album Live Era ’87 – ’93 (1999) – $800,000
- Compilation Album Greatest Hits (2004) – $13 million
- Chinese Democracy (2008) – $6.5 million
Rose and His Bandmates Earned Over $57 Million from their First Two Tours
Wow Italy… What a passionate crowd… Thank you Firenze Rocks ???????? pic.twitter.com/peMKtfJbew
— Axl Rose (@axlrose) June 15, 2018
The Guns N’ Roses lead singer has made good money through tours. Following the release of their first studio album in 1987, Axl Rose and his bandmates embarked on a 16-month Appetite for Destruction Tour. They performed a total of 176 shows in North America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania. The tour was a huge success as it skyrocketed their celebrity status around the world and instantly made their debut album a hit, selling over 30 million copies afterward. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of information regarding the revenues realized from the tour.
On January 20th, 1991, Guns N’ Roses kicked off their second tour, Use Your Illusion Tour, for the promotion of their upcoming albums, ‘Use Your Illusion I & II’. The tour encompassed 194 shows performed in 27 countries across five continents with over 7 million fans in attendance. Its long duration (two years and six months), made it one of the longest concert tours in the annals of rock and roll.
Despite the infamous incidents that occurred during the tour which included riots, late starts, and concert cancelations, Use Your Illusion Tour raked in $57 million in revenue.
His Wealth Increased after the Reorganization of GNR
From 1990 to 1997, GNR went through internal conflict which brought about the exit of some pioneer members, as well as the arrival of new members. Steven Adler was fired in 1990, Slash left the band in October 1996 and McKagan resigned in August 1997. Three of them were respectively replaced by Matt Sorum, Robin Finck, and Tommy Stinson.
In anticipation of GNR’s much-anticipated album, ‘Chinese Democracy’, Axl Rose began the Chinese Democracy Tour on January 1st, 2001. He performed in three locations in the United States and one location in Brazil. The tour ended after 239 concerts and grossed over $4 million.
The following year, the group embarked on a five-month Up and Personal Tour, performing 49 shows across North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Although the total revenue of the tour was undisclosed, Axl Rose and his band subsequently accrued $1,357,820 and $406,274 respectively at the O2 Arena, London; and Manchester Arena, Manchester. They sold 18,901 tickets out of 27,817 total tickets at the O2 Arena and 5,877 tickets out of the 7,205 available tickets at the Manchester Arena.
Furthermore, Axl Rose’s net worth augmented when Guns N’ Roses got their Appetite for Democracy Tour to a get-go at The Joint, Las Vegas, on October 31st, 2012. They did 42 shows across several locations in South America, North America, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and Latin America for a year and seven months as it ended on June 7th, 2014.
Not in This Lifetime… Tour Generated Over $584 Million
In 2016, Slash and McKagan reunited with Guns N’ Roses members after over 20 years of leaving the band. They kicked off the Not in This Lifetime… Tour on April 1st, 2016 at The Troubadour located in West Hollywood, California. They followed up their reunion with a two-day concert at T-Mobile Arena, Los Angeles, on April 8th & 9th and grossed $7.3 million.
Subsequently, they performed 175 concerts with over 5.3 million fans in attendance across South America, North America, Australia, Asia, Europe, and Africa. The tour which spanned from April 1st, 2016 to November 2nd, 2019 raked in $584.2 million in revenue. As such, it became the third highest-grossing tour of all time in the annals of Billboard Boxscore. In the United States alone, the tour generated $258.5 million from 2.3 million sold tickets and grossed about $166.1 million in Europe.
Their June 16th & 17th concert at The London Stadium which accrued $17.7 million was the hallmark of the tour. Currently, Axl Rose and his bandmates are on Guns N’ Roses 2020 Tour which started on January 31st, 2020. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic which affected most of their engagements, the band has thus far been able to hold 33 shows across North America, Latin America, and Europe.
An Overview of What GNR Has Earned from Tours
- The Early Days of Guns N’ Roses (1985-1987) – undisclosed
- Appetite for Destruction Tour (1987-1988) – undisclosed
- Use Your Illusion Tour (1991-1993) – $57 million
- Chinese Democracy Tour (2001-2011) – $4 million
- Up Close and Personal Tour (2012) – over $2 million
- Appetite for Democracy Tour (2012-2014) – over $2.3 million
- Not in This Lifetime… Tour (2016-2019) – $584.2 million
- Guns N’ Roses 2020 Tour (2020-2021) – undisclosed
A Look at the Rock Star’s Earnings Outside Guns N’ Roses
Axl Rose joined the Australian rock band, AC/DC to tour in 2016, replacing their lead vocalist Brian Johnson who forcefully retired because of partial hearing loss that could become permanent if he didn’t quit singing at the time. Though the amount of money he earned during his stint with the band is undisclosed, it is believed that he made an incredible fortune from it.
According to NME, Rose will continue to be the lead singer of AC/DC for the foreseeable future as the band’s biographer, Murray Engleheart, suggested in his 2018 Facebook post.
He Has also Earned from Acting and Providing Movie Soundtracks
At the height of his fame in the late ’80s, Axl Rose spread his wings to the film industry. He made his debut appearance by playing an uncredited role as a musician at a funeral in the 1988 action movie, The Dead Pool. The movie’s soundtrack, ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, was written and performed by Axl Rose and his bandmates. Also, he lent the voice of DJ Tommy ‘The Nightmare’ Smith in the 2004 video game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and also featured in one episode of the 2020 animation TV series, New Looney Tunes.
So far, GNR songs have been featured as soundtracks in over 100 movies, documentaries, video games, and TV series combined. They include Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Australian Idol (2005-2007), Madden NFL 11 (2010), Life as We Know It (2010), The Office (2013), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017), and Elämäni Biisi (2020). However, the amount of money he acquired from the aforementioned roles is yet to be made public.
List of Axl Rose’s Revenue Streams
- Record sales
- Tour revenues
- Movie appearances
The Singer Owns a Mansion in Malibu
The GNR frontman bought a 2-bedroom, 2000 square-foot house on a private 1⅓ – acre small hill in Beachwood Canyon, Malibu, California for $800,000 in 1990. The house which was purchased from Victor Kaminoff has a pool with a view of the city and Griffith Park. Axl Rose did a lot of renovations in the 1950s-era house which includes remodeling of the kitchen and the changing of the sisal on the floor to hardwood.
He incidentally broke all the windows and damaged a $30k granite-engraved fireplace with a 30-foot glass wall while forcing his $38k piano through the side of the house.
Axl Rose Has Lost Some Money to Lawsuits
Even though Axl Rose has accrued a mammoth net worth of $200 million over the years, he also incurred some losses in the process. After the annulment of his marriage to Erin Everly in 1991, he kicked off another romantic relationship with the supermodel, Stephanie Seymour, and they got engaged in 1993. Rose, however, filed an assault lawsuit against Seymour in 1993 and she returned the favor with a counter-suit. During the case, Everly was summoned to testify; she did and subsequently sued Rose for sexual battery and assault. Eventually, the rock star settled both cases out of the court with an undisclosed fee.
Following the axing of the Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler by Axl Rose on July 11th, 1990, Adler filed a lawsuit against the band for his entitlements and royalties in 1990. The case was settled out of the court in 1993 and Adler was given a check of $2.25 million and a 15% royalties for the songs he recorded with them.