As part of its 40th-anniversary coverage, the publication created two charts — one for ticket grosses and one for ticket sales — analyzing “thousands of box-office reports” across four decades. For both, Pollstar counted only headlining shows, omitting both festival appearances and events where the artist in question served as a support act.
The Rolling Stones topped the gross sales chart and ranked third for ticket sales, having earned roughly $2.16 billion from 22.1 million tickets. This time range includes the band’s 14 most recent tours out of nearly 50 total, starting with their American trek launched in fall 1981.
U2 ranked No. 1 for total tickets and No. 2 for gross, having earned roughly $2.12 billion from 26.1 million tickets. This era includes 14 tours, beginning with a run supporting their second LP, 1981’s October.
The top 20 for gross includes Rod Stewart at No. 19 ($796 million), Roger Waters at No. 18 ($841 million), Dave Matthews Band at No. 13 ($1.08 billion), Billy Joel at No. 11 ($1.18 billion), Paul McCartney at No. 10 ($1.19 billion), Metallica at No. 9 ($1.2 billion), Eagles at No. 8, ($1.31 billion), Bon Jovi at No. 7 ($1.32 billion), Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at No. 4 ($1.5 billion) and Elton John at No. 3 ($1.7 billion).
The top 20 for tickets also includes Neil Diamond at No. 16 (12.9 million), Stewart at No. 15 (13.1 million), Aerosmith at No. 13 (13.3 million), Phish at No. 12 (13.5 million), the Grateful Dead at No. 10 (15.5 million), Joel at No. 8 (16.9 million), Bon Jovi at No. 7 (17.7 million), Metallica at No. 6 (19.4 million), John at No. 5 (19.7 million), Springsteen and the E Street Band at No. 4 (20.8 million) and Dave Matthews Band at No. 2 (23.2 million).
U2 Albums Ranked
U2 don’t inspire weak reactions in people. There are passionate U2 fans, and passionate U2 haters, and very little in between.