Sadly, fortunes don’t last forever and hard work can go to waste when drugs, lavish lifestyles, and poor management comes into play. No one knows that better than the artists on this list. Find out which musicians started out on top and fell hard into bankruptcy. First up, the always interesting Meat Loaf.
Even though artist Meat Loaf’s “Bat Outta Hell” album is one of the highest-selling of all time, fate wasn’t on Marvin Lee Aday’s side. After losing his voice when attempting to follow the original with a second album, the singer missed out on his window of opportunity and wasn’t able to finish recording everything until 1981.
The new album, “Dead Ringer” only made a small portion of what his first did, so by the time Meat Loaf was ready to reap the rewards, he was already $1.6 million in debt and had to declare bankruptcy. With the release of “Bat Outta Hell II” and the single “I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That),” Meat Loaf managed to settle his debts and come back out on top of the charts in 1993.
If you think that you know debt from American Express, it most likely does not even touch the $20,000 bill that singer and performer Toni Braxton managed to accrue in 1998.
Even though her famous “Unbreak My Heart” single sold 25 million albums worldwide, it didn’t even come to close to covering her expensive $43,000 monthly spending habit which led to her formal filing for bankruptcy in ’98. Managing to pick herself up from the financial rubble that she created, Braxton was able to revive her career in 2000 with her album “The Heat” and was eventually asked to perform at the Flamingo Hotel in Vegas until 2008.
Despite the original R&B singer’s wild success with group Motown in the ’70s, Marvin fell subject to bankruptcy due to excessive alimony payments from his ex-wife.
As the only artist to ever break away from the soulful group, Gaye went on to create 40 Top 41 hits throughout his career, including three Number 1 Pop hits! Sadly, even after the incredible release of albums “What’s Going On” and “Let’s Get It On,” Gaye was never able to see the money he rightfully deserved and before he could reap the benefits of “Sexual Healing,” his father murdered him on April 1, 1984.
Although we still listen to and know the two great MC Hammer hits, “2 Legit 2 Quit” and “U Can’t Touch This,” the rapper’s spending habits far outweighed the money that he was making in the ’90s. Living well past his means, Hammer invested in a $12 million home and even spoiled himself with 200 personal servants, which came to about $6.8 million a year!
His successful albums releases were well received and sold over 50 million copies worldwide, but the artist was not being smart with his money. By 1996, Hammer had to declare bankruptcy after owing the IRS $13 million in back taxes, but somehow it got even worse for the broke rapper. As if he had any money at the time, Hammer was sued for copyright infringement for $20 million; which is not “2 Legit 2 Quit.”
Considering glam metal group Twisted Sister could barely even pay off their label on a consistent basis, it was no surprise when lead singer Dee Snider had to file for bankruptcy in the ’90s. Despite the band’s success with third album “Stay Hungry,” Chapter 11 was the only option for the drag queen-esque group after their experiences with poor group management.
Snider was able to revive part of his fortune with his now-syndicated radio program, The Dee Snider Show, in the early 2000s. He also still manages to profit and reaps benefits from the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” Twisted Sister anthem that is commonly used by political activist groups.
Not only has world famous singer-songwriter Billy Joel filed for bankruptcy, but he actually done it multiple times. Joel has been robbed blind by his former manager, brother-in-law and godparent to Joel’s daughter, Frank Weber, for $30 million that went to bizarre business investments and to pay off personal loans.
For years Joel was unaware of the situation until the formal audit, so he retaliated against his sister’s husband with a $60 million lawsuit for fraud and misappropriation of funds. Through three failed marriages, severe drinking issues, and mulitple DUIs and rehab stints, Joel has managed to pick himself and attempt to gain back the fortune that he worked so hard for.
Wild and crazy George Clinton, front man of Parliament Funkadelic and head songwriter for Motown, always had issues with record companies during his career in the music business.
After being forced to file for bankruptcy in 1985, Clinton even lost the legal rights to all songs that he created from the ’70s to the ’80s including mainstream hits “Flashlight” and “One Nation Under A Groove.” Although it was a devastating loss for Clinton at the time, he still managed to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 and is still known as one of the greatest songwriters of all time.
Garrett was once a teenage heartthrob in the ’70s, but not everything lasts forever as he learned when he was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2001. From a life that started out as a pure, untouched top ten hit making teen with talent to one riddled with drugs and alcohol addiction, Garrett blew through his fortune in a matter of years.
As we he was not able to break into the industry as an adult, Garrett’s fortune was already quite small compared to the neediness and worth of his drug habit but got bad enough to request a monthly allowance of $1,000 from his own mother. Yikes, Garrett.
Yes, Willie Nelson is widely considered a national treasure in the eyes of country music worshipers, but he definitely does not know how to take care of his taxes. Cited for $32 million in back taxes, the IRS seized Nelson’s fortune and most of his assets forcing the country star to go bankrupt the same year.
Willie shed the blame on his accountants, but was forced to subject himself to Taco Bell commercials to make up the difference he ended up losing, on top of releasing an album called “The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?” Just two years after he declared bankruptcy, Nelson had managed to pay off his debts.
The “Stranglehold” guitarist and singer, at one point, was the highest-grossing performer in America but it didn’t last long considering he had to file for bankruptcy due to poor money management.
The ignorant and selfish men that Nugent left in charge of his money decided to oddly spend the fortune on investments in Clydesdale farms and mink farms, which forced him to file for Chapter 11 in 1980. Ever since then, the rocker has managed to bypass other political and social obstacles in his career to rebuild his wealth and success, which is something that not everyone is capable of doing after such a ridiculous situation.
He wasn’t even the worst case scenario, keep reading.
Famous soul singer from the ’60s and ’70s had his fair share of success early on in his career as the singer/writer for the Shaft theme song that won an Academy Award for Best Original Song in ’71. Sadly, Hayes experienced issues with his record label. Stax, that was forced to shut its doors in 1975 due to insolvency.
Even worse, the label owed Hayes $5 million that they couldn’t pay so Hayes decided to file for bankruptcy but ended up losing the rights to all of his future royalties from his own original music. After the dust cleared, Hayes became the iconic voice of Chef on South Park that we all know and love.
Jerry Lee Lewis
Most famous for his rockin’ hit “Great Balls of Fire,” artist Jerry Lee Lewis was reportedly just as wild in life as he was on stage. Although “Rock and Roll’s First Great Wild Man” started his career selling out shows for $10,000 a night, once he decided to marry his second cousin, his popularity fell flat.
Going from earning 10 grand a night to $250 for an entire concert, Lewis was dead broke and basically kissed his career goodbye. By the ’80s, Lewis owed the IRS more than $3 million in back taxes and was forced to file for bankruptcy; sadly Lewis, as one of the leading front man’s in rock and roll history, never recovered from the devastating financial scandal.
Famous, talented, and beloved drummer of the iconic folk rock group Fleetwood Mac, Mick Fleetwood ruined his massive fortune with an expensive cocaine habit and millions of dollars thrown toward ridiculous real estate investments.
Although “Rumors” alone could have set up Mick for life, he was forced to file for bankruptcy by 1984 with an estimated expense report of $8 million for coke alone over the years! It allegedly took Fleetwood 10 years to make back the money he lost, but we can happily report that Mick has been clean and sober since 1991 and significantly back on his feet!
Responsible for the favorite wedding dance hit “Shout!” Ron Isley found himself in quite a financial hole during his career. Gaining massive fame from the iconic hit we still love today, the Isley Brothers saw much fame in 1959 after the release of the single, but the minute Ron decided to establish the T-Neck Records Label, it was all downhill from there.
With the label’s limited success going to his head, Isley filed for bankruptcy in the ’80s but somehow managed to recover after being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in ’92. However, the recovery was short-lived as he was convicted of tax evasion in 2006 and served three years in prison for the offense.
Starting out with an instrumental piece from the iconic ’60s group The Byrds, David Crosby saw immediate fame in the hippy era just before he met Stills and Nash. Forming the group Crosby, Stills, and Nash, the three became unstoppable throughout the ’70s until David was arrested for drug possession and did nine months in jail.
As a result of his expensive drug problem, he found himself broke and filing for bankruptcy by ’85 and was again arrested the same year for weapons charges. By some miracle, Crosby was able to pull himself out of his spiraling drug addiction after his third arrest in 2004 and is now a piece of the inducted Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
After Ice’s success with the track “Ice Ice Baby,” aka the first rap song to ever make the number one spot on the Billboard chart, not much else came from the artist after the one-hit-wonder.
Under his agreement with SBK Records, Ice felt chained to unfair circumstances regarding his appearance tied to the label and his demeanor and wanted to break free. Considering the album “To The Extreme” didn’t receive as much widespread acclaim as the single track, Ice was forced to file for bankruptcy by the mid-’90s and never saw the amount of money that he always anticipated earning in his career.
Former member of TLC, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes found herself at the mercy of the media countless timeless with a reputation for bad and abusive relationships.
After she quickly rose to fame with the hip-hop group TLC in the ’90s with hits like “No Scrubs” and “2 Proud 2 Beg,” Lopes, Thomas, and Watkins were forced to file for bankruptcy. Due to issues with their label like bad contracts and poor band management, the group filed for Chapter 11 on July 3, 1995. Even worse, after the crumbling of the band, Lopes was killed in a brutal car accident in 2002; such a shame.
American singer and performer, most well known for his Vegas showcases and residencies, is actually one of the few that is just as well known for his bankruptcy situation.
As a partial owner of the Aladdin hotel, Newton attempted to buy out the rest of the shares in ’83 but failed miserably and was forced to file for bankruptcy after an altercation with NBC. The dispute put Newton $20 million in debt and the situation only got worse in 2005 when the IRS sued the singer for an accumulated amount of back taxes. At the time of the drama, Newton was said to only be making $250,000 each week at his Vegas residency.
Kelis milkshake may have brought all the boys to the yard, but it didn’t bring in enough money to keep her from financial ruin. Probably best known for her hit song, “Milkshake,” Kelis had a moderately successful career but for the most part has been written off as a one-hit wonder.
The hip hop artist was previously involved with the rapper Nas, who left her while she was pregnant with his child. Kelis’ ex refused to pay for child support bills. Kelis went on record to accuse Nas of refusing to support her saying, “I have run out of money. My survival is based on [Nas’] will at this time. If he does not want to pay for an expense, it does not get paid.”
One of the biggest stars of the 1980s, Burt Reynolds lived the life of a superstar until that star eventually burned out. He poured his riches into some unwise investments, like a ranch in Florida, a helicopter, and several mansions. He also invested in two different restaurant chains, which is what caused him to lose more than he could afford.
By 1996, Burt Reynolds filed for bankruptcy, his $6.6 million in assets outweighed by the $11.2 million he owed to creditors. After he got his finances back into some sort of order, he returned to acting, starring in remakes of The Longest Yard and The Dukes of Hazzard.
The Diff’rent Strokes star might have had a successful acting career in the 70s and 80s, but the former child celebrity fell on some hard times later on in life. He was forced to file for bankruptcy in 1999, blaming his financial troubles on mismanagement of funds in addition to long-term medical problems as the reason he had drained his substantial bank account.
After filing for bankruptcy, it was revealed that he was secretly married after he appeared on the reality courtroom show Divorce Court. Gary Coleman later entered politics, running for governor of California in the early 2000s.
The Prince of Pop was also the Prince of Debt, believe it or not. After he passed away in 2009, it was revealed that Michael Jackson had also been on his financial deathbed. A forensic accountant stated that the pop singer had been spending $20 million to $30 million more per year than he was actually earning, putting him millions of dollars into debt.
It takes a lot of wasteful spending for someone who was named the most successful entertainer by The Guinness Book of World Records to become so deeply in debt. Of course, it becomes a lot easier to sink so far in the red when your home costs a whopping $10 million a year in maintenance!
A celebrity in her own right, former Hole singer Courtney Love and her partner Kurt Cobain got into some financial troubles despite their success. Courtney’s money woes only got worse after Kurt Cobain committed suicide, leaving her with their young daughter Francis Bean.
Courtney Love was sued by American Express for more than $350,000 because she hadn’t been making payments on her credit card. A trust fund was set up for her and her daughter, but she was reportedly barred from dipping into it. Eventually, she was forced to sell a quarter of Nirvana’s music catalog to get out of debt.
He may be one of the most famous actors in recent memory, but the millions of dollars Nicolas Cage has earned throughout his career have not all ended up in the bank. He owns millions of dollars in back taxes, forcing him to sell a couple of his multi-million dollar homes.
Cage has promised to repay his debt to the IRS and has so far paid back hundreds of thousands in back taxes, although he still has a ways to go. If someone as famous as Nicolas Cage can have money troubles, is there really hope for any of us?
Former child star Danny Bonaduce didn’t take too long to blow through the money he earned while he was young and cute. He may have earned himself a small fortune while starring on The Partridge Family, but as he grew up Danny Bonaduce turned into yet another wild former child star.
He got into quite a bit of trouble with the law, developed a drug addiction which had him in and out of rehab for years, and faced so many financial problems that he has been forced to appear on celebrity reality TV shows.
O.J. Simpson may quite possibly have literally gotten away with murder, but that doesn’t mean that the former NFL star was able to get away with lavish spending. He lost much of his wealth after it was awarded to the families of his deceased wife and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
Rumors abounded, but O.J. Simpson kept himself in the limelight. Many speculated that he was not left destitute after paying off the Brown and Goldman families as the former athlete was able to keep his NFL pension which was not allowed to be claimed in damages under the law.
Francis Ford Coppola
Nicholas Cage isn’t the only one in his family who has faced troubled with money. You would think that Cage would have learned his lesson from famous relative Francis Ford Coppola, but it seems that the actor has instead followed in his uncle’s footsteps.
Coppola was more than a quarter of a million dollars in debt before the success of the first Godfather movie. His debt escalated after his 1982 musical One From the Heart flopped at the box office. Fortunately, a loan from his mother kept him from bankruptcy; Coppola went into the wine business and got his finances back on track.
The “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” singer had a little bit too much fun before she hit the big time. While Cyndi Lauper would go on to become one of the most iconic rockers of the 1980s providing the soundtrack of a generation with such songs as the aforementioned “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and “True Colors,” she had some career and financial woes before achieving commercial success.
The singer’s record contract with Blue Angel music failed in the early 80s, forcing Lauper to find work in retail. She also had to file for bankruptcy. Fortunately, the true colors of her talent eventually won out and she became the star we know and love today.
This actress, model, and singer once looked like she was on her way to superstardom, but her rising career hit a major curve ball from which she has yet to recover. Tia Carrere might have had some major roles such as starring in the long-running soap opera “General Hospital,” and playing opposite Mike Myers in “Wayne’s World,” but Carrere let her fame get to her head and made a career-killing move.
The actress tried to get out of her contract with “General Hospital,” claiming that she was not getting enough work to sustain her life style. Really, the actress wanted to join the cast of “The A-Team.” Sadly, the lawsuit failed and her fifteen minutes of fame were pretty much ended.
Lindsay Lohan has gotten more than her fair share of bad publicity for her wild partying ways, which is why many people did not realize that she has struggled with her finances. In 2012, the former child star had her accounts frozen by the IRS because she owed nearly a quarter of a million dollars in back taxes.
Lohan was forced to sell several of her homes after amassing so much debt. Some of the money she spent was necessary, such as on stints in rehab and legal fees, but there’s not really much of an excuse for things like spending an entire year in a hotel room that costs more than a thousand dollars a night.
R & B singer Lauryn Hill has served time in prison because of her financial problems. The singer, who is also known for her role in the film The Sister Act 2, spent three months in prison in 2013 after failing to pay taxes. She earned more than $1.8 million between 2005 and 2007 for which she failed to pay a single dime in taxes.
Despite having earned millions of dollars over the course of her career and having recorded many popular albums, she reported to live a fairly modest life. If this is true, then she probably had the finances to pay her taxes and simply chose not to.
Tionne T-Boz Watkins
Former singer of the popular 90s girl group, TLC, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011. Unlike other celebs who have made this list, however, T-Boz’s financial difficulties were not the result of wasteful spending habits. She filed for bankruptcy after medical bills left her broke. T-Boz suffered from a brain tumor and sickle cell anemia which severely depleted her savings.
After she got better, she didn’t try to remedy her debt, leading to a judge throwing out another request to file again for Chapter 11 bankruptcy just a few years later.
One of the greatest comedians to ever hit the stage, Lenny Bruce died in near poverty despite his incredible success. One of the pioneers of stand-up comedy, Lenny Bruce made a name for himself through his often crass humor. Launching his career in the mid-20th century when social mores were much more reserved than they are today, Bruce often found himself in violation of obscenity laws.
The native New Yorker soon found himself blackballed from comedy venues all over the city, but still managed to gain a large following. Much of the money he made, however, went to legal costs accrued while fighting obscenity charges. In 2003, decades after his gath, New York Governor George Pataki granted the comedian a pardon.
Every 90s kid remembers Dustin Diamond from his role as Screech on the hit television series, Saved by the Bell. The nerdy and comical sidekick was a fan favorite, but after Saved by the Bell ended, Diamond had trouble finding more acting work.
He made a career out of stints on celebrity reality shows such as Celebrity Fit Club, but it still was not enough to keep his finances afloat. Desperate for money to keep his house out of foreclosure, he later sold t-shirts emblazoned with the words “I paid 15 dollars to help Screeech save his house.”
Famous boxer Mike Tyson is known for a lot of things, not the least of which is biting off an opponent’s ear. Over the course of his athletic career, Tyson reportedly earned $300 million, only to file for bankruptcy a few years later. Drains on his finances included living expenses of $400,000 per month in addition to a $9 million divorce from one of his wives.
Tyson tried to generate himself a little bit more income by appearing in films. His acting skills aren’t really that great, but he still garners a decent wage simply by virtue of being Mike Tyson.
This Baywatch babe may have enamored television viewers by running around in a swimsuit, but her lifeguard skills were not enough to keep her financially afloat. While she still has her model good looks made famous by appearances in Playboy, she does not have the fortune that you would expect to come with such fame.
Her Malibu beach house went over budget, leading to a few problems. It seems that Pamela isn’t so great with living within her means. Things like platinum-plated swimming pools quickly added up and put her more than $3 million over her budget for the home.
Mischa Barton seemed to be destined to superstardom after coming into prominence on the hit 2000s teen drama The OC. Many of the show’s leading actors went on to successful careers in the entertainment industry after the show wrapped. Mischa Barton was so certain of her success that she left the show after its third season. Unfortunately, she didn’t make it big in the film industry and her career and life went on a downward spiral.
In addition to some trouble with the law following charges of driving while intoxicated, Mischa was sued by her landlord for failing to pay the rent on her apartment. She was also reported to have had multiple credit cards declined at a drugstore.
Kim Basinger is known for her role in the early 90s film Boxing Helena. Haven’t heard of it? That’s because Basinger backed out of a verbal commitment to star in it, but the film still played a big part in her life. A judge ordered her to pay Main Line Pictures $8.1 million in 1993 for backing out of the film.
The order forced Basinger to file for bankruptcy. She also had to sell a $20 million investment in Braselton, receiving only $1 million for it. Her financial troubles led her to appeal the ruling and she eventually reached a settlement with Main Line Pictures.
Born Charlyn Marie “Chan” Marshall, Cat Power went broke while getting ready to promote her 2012 album “Sun,” which she self-funded production for. The album broke the Bilboard Top 10 and sold well in Europe, and was applauded by critics as “honest, accomplished, and pretty much just beautiful.” Even though she was selling out shows for her upcoming tour, she announced that she was bankrupt.
In a heartbreaking Instagram post, the artist wrote “I MAY HAVE TO CANCEL MY EUROPEAN TOUR DUE TO BANKRUPTCY & MY HEALTH STRUGGLE WITH ANGIOEDEMA. I HAVE NOT THROWN IN ANY TOWEL, I AM TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT BEST I CAN DO.” She did cancel the European segment of the tour over her health issues.
Goo Goo Dolls
The Goo Goo Dolls were huge in the mid-90s and their albums sold like hotcakes: with more than two million being scooped up that decade alone. Unfortunately, they had an iffy contract with Warner Bros. and actually owed money to their label despite being commercial successes.
The problem was that Warner Bros. gave the band a large advance for their multi-platinum album “Dizzy Up the Girl,” which meant that the Goo Goo Dolls didn’t see any of that record’s royalties until they had paid Warner Bros. back in full, which wasn’t until several years later.