Top 10 Most Successful Music Tours

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Music is truly a gift. A gift for those who are talented enough to provide it, and a gift to all of us who are able to listen to it and enjoy the sounds we love to hear. In today’s world, the number of musical genres is truly over the top. From metal, to techno, to rock, to rap, to R&B, to country, the kind of music one can listen to is truly limitless. In any case, genres are not important and music is just music. To many, music is an escape; a great way to get away from the stress in everyday life. Said by famous pianist and composer Ludwig Beethoven, “Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.”

Along with music comes CDs, and with enough CDs comes music tours. Concerts are the best way to enjoy music. The atmosphere is great and being able to listen to music being played a few feet in front of you is nothing shy of awesome. Below is a list of the 10 most successful music tours in the terms of attendance. While some of these tours were much more expensive and grossed a lot more money, attendance is truly what is most important. What’s a music tour without loud, screaming, adoring fans? Some artists are able to play music for millions, others gross millions, and many are able to do both. So put on some music, grab your lighter, and enjoy the list!

10. Wildest Dreams Tour, Tina Turner

3,000,000 attendees

Image result for Wildest Dreams Tour, Tina Turner

From April 20, 1996 to August 10, 1997, Tina Turner made her presence on the stage. Each of her concerts sold out quickly worldwide. From the U.S., to various places in Europe such as France, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Norway, England, and plenty more, thousands of fans showed up to listen and watch Tina Turner’s exciting concert. During the length of the eight month tour, over 250 shows were put on, 152 of them were located throughout Europe. With these shows, Turner was able to gross $130 million and was able to sing and dance for about 3,000,000 people. With the help of her opening act by Cyndi Lauper, Turner’s Wildest Dreams Tour could very well have exceeded her wildest dreams. Perhaps surprising, since her Wildest Dreams CD had yet to be released.

Turner’s previous tour, What’s Love (1993), was much smaller in size and attendance, allowing her to be up-close and personal with her fans. After her Wildest Dreams Tour, Turner has gone on two more tours, one in 2000 and one in 2008. Both were successful but never reached the high attendance levels of her Wildest Dreams Tour.

9. U2 360° Tour, U2

3,071,290 attendees

Image result for 360 u2 tour

It’s safe to say that U2 dominates this list with three entries total. The first tour that makes the list is the band’s current U2 360° Tour. The tour isn’t named after a CD or song, but after 360° stage set that the band is using; fans can observe and hear the band from every side. As if this idea isn’t cool enough, the design of the stage is truly amazing. The structure used symbolizes a huge claw surrounding the band. In fact, the stage set up is so unique that it has been named the largest ever used in the world.

The tour started on June 30, 2009 and the last show will be played on October 8, 2010. The band decided to conduct this tour in efforts to get word out and sales up for their newest released CD entitled No Line on the Horizon. Because our world has quickly entered the digital age, CD sales have dropped tremendously, and the band sees the tour as being the CD’s main source of revenue.

The tour will be going all over, from Spain, Italy, and France to the Netherlands, Poland, England, and Croatia, as well as through the U.S. and Canada. The band has picked several opening acts, including Muse, the Black Eyed Peas, Lenny Kravitz, the Fray, One Republic, and various other bands.

8. Licks Tour, The Rolling Stones

3,400,000 attendees


If you’re a Rolling Stones fan, you know all about the Licks Tour; and even if you aren’t a fan, you’ve surely seen the bright red lips with pearly whites and a large red tongue sticking out that is a known symbol of the band. The Licks Tour came about in 2003 after the band released their album Forty Licks. The tour lasted a year and two months and 117 shows were played. The Rolling Stones didn’t have a lot of new music to play, but they were able to put together 80 songs that would be played throughout the concerts.

After the Licks Tour, the band had an even more successful tour, which is also featured on the list. However, the tour was one of a kind when looking at surprise guests. Bono from U2 joined in on a song at a venue in Chicago, while in Leipzig, famous Angus and Malcolm Young from AC/DC played along with the band.

7. Living Proof: The Farewell Tour, Cher

3,500,000 attendees


It’s no surprise that a band or artist would do a farewell tour, but Cher definitely planned to go out with a bang. Cher has held plenty of concerts since Living Proof: The Farewell Tour, but it was her last tour where she went worldwide. Today, the tour stands as one of the most successful musical tours, bringing 3,500,000 fans from all over the world. Though it is not the most successful tour named on the list, Living Proof: The Farewell Tour has been called Cher’s most successful tour ever. The shows went from June 14, 2002 to April 30, 2005 and Cher performed at 350 shows.

During her tour, the deadly Asian tsunami struck. Though she was playing a concert in Sacramento, California and far from danger, Cher decided to take all of the proceeds from the show and donate them to disaster relief. Most of the tour dates were featured within the U.S., but 41 of them were in Europe and Oceania.

6. Sticky & Sweet Tour, Madonna

3,500,000 attendees


Madonna is one of the many artists on the list who has been on various world tours; however, her Sticky & Sweet Tour has proven to be her highest attended tour ever. With 3,500,000 concert-goers, Madonna comes in at #6 on the list. The tour was set up in order to promote Madonna’s 11th album, Hard Candy. The tour started on August 23, 2008 in Wales and ended on September 2, 2009 in Israel. Her tour went all over the world to places such as Poland, Denmark, Switzerland, Chile, and various other locations. The tour was scheduled to go all the way to Australia, but money problems prevented that from happening. While on tour, Madonna decided to change up her concert in order to commemorate the death of Michael Jackson. Death also occurred at one of the concerts when two men who were setting up the stage in Marseille were crushed after the roof collapsed. Despite this sad set-back, the concert went on and many fans have given it great reviews.

If you didn’t get to attend the tour, various concerts have been broadcast on television as well as a DVD and Bluray disc created to enjoy the concert atmosphere at home. While many performers choose to have an opening act, Madonna made her own grand opening; however, various celebrity singers such as Britney Spears, Pharrell, Kanye West, and others were portrayed on the large screen backdrop that was placed behind her.

5. PopMart Tour, U2

3,935,936 attendees


Again, U2 makes it on the list. The band has obviously been extremely successful with their world tours, and their PopMart Tour is no exception. The band was able to gather 3,935,936 attendees throughout the length of the tour. U2 decided on this tour in order to promote their CD Pop which was released in 1997. Beginning on April 25, 1997, the tour finally ended on March 21, 1998 after going to places such as Germany, Austria, the U.S., Canada, Poland, and plenty of other countries. After all was said and done, this tour is considered one of U2’s best. The tour became so popular, as well as controversial, that the creators of the show The Simpsons decided to film an episode that involved the PopMart tour.

The stage used was extremely unique, featuring a large golden arch, as well as a huge LED screen, and even a mirror-ball in the shape of a lemon. U2, being the very political and involved band that they are, was able to poke a little bit of fun at pop culture as well as consumerism during their tour by using this stage as well as dressing in costumes. In any case, the tour was successful and fans all around the world made sure that they got to see U2 perform.

4. Bad World Tour, Michael Jackson

4,400,000 attendees


Another artist that shows up on the list more than once, Michael Jackson’s Bad World Tour was the first world tour that he took on solo. The tour, lasting 123 concerts, went all over, from the U.S. to Europe, and even Japan. At the time of the tour, the Bad World tour went into the record books as the largest grossing and largest attended audience. Of course, that record was broken soon after, but it’s definitely a feat for Michael Jackson’s first solo tour to even be ranked at such a high level. In fact, his tour was so amazing that it was nominated for Tour of the Year 1988, but did not win. The tour began on September 12, 1987 and ended on January 27, 1989 after a long 16 months. The tour had two legs, but each featured similar songs, though some were omitted in the second leg and replaced with a new song.

Out of generosity, Michael Jackson went out of his way to ensure that 400 tickets to each of his concerts during the tour were given to children with disabilities or ones that were underprivileged. He also chose to donate some of the money made during the tour to hospitals, orphanages, and various other places. Even though this tour broke world records and made the record books, a later tour was able to be even more successful.

3. HIStory World Tour, Michael Jackson

4,500,000 attendees


Michael Jackson makes it to #3 on the list after his highly attended HIStory World Tour. The tour attracted about 4,500,000 fans from all over the world. It began on September 7, 1996 and ended on October 15, 1997. Though shorter than his previous tour with only 82 shows, this tour was able to bring out more people. The tour, named after one of his CDs HIStory, was planned to help promote sales as well as sales of his remix album Blood on the Dance Floor. Jackson took the time to go to Australia, Africa, Europe, and of course the U.S. He even arranged a concert to be played in Hawaii, which is a pretty rare place for such a large concert. With 4,500,000 attendees, the tour grossed at $165 million. Many of his concerts were televised, though none of the concerts were made into a full DVD. Instead, countries such as Korea decided to release their own VHS of the concert at an arena there.

Even though Michael Jackson had another solo world tour planned after the successful HIStory World Tour, it would sadly be his last. His tour schedule for 2009, This Is It, was cancelled after his sudden death.

2. Vertigo Tour, U2

4,619,021 attendees


U2’s Vertigo Tour stands as the band’s most successful tour yet. The tour, which went worldwide, was able to draw 4,169,021 fans. U2 played 131 shows all over the world, including Norway, Netherlands, Portugal, Canada, and plenty of other locations. Out of all 131 shows, 110 sold out almost immediately. In the US alone, over 1.4 million tickets were purchased. The tour was planned to help promote the band’s CD How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, which is the band’s 11th CD. It was so successful that three different films were created, each of them showing footage from different concerts that went on during the tour. Vertigo Tour lasted from March 28, 2005 to December 9, 2006 and not only did fans get to listen to U2, they also got a chance to enjoy Pearl Jam, Interpol, Snow Patrol, and plenty of other bands.

The most memorable part of the tour was probably the large LED curtain that covered the stage. With a wide variety of colors, the curtain often displayed abstract pictures and sometimes even text. The curtain was made with 189 strings of LED balls.

1. A Bigger Bang Tour, The Rolling Stones

4,680,000 attendees


And topping the list is no one else but The Rolling Stones… the A Bigger Bang Tour stands as the most successful tour ever when looking at the number of attendees. Funded by American Express, the tour attracted 4,680,000 people throughout the tour’s 147 shows. Today the tour not only stands as the most successful in attendance, but also the most successful in the amount of grossed money. In fact, the Bigger Bang Tour brought in about $558,255,524. The tour began on August 21, 2007 at Fenway Park in Boston and ended on August 26, 2007 in London at the O2 Arena. Keeping with the tradition of the tongue logo, the band took the original logo and added an explosive look to it and gave it the name “chippy tongue.” Like most Rolling Stone concerts, there were plenty of other bands to enjoy, including Metallica, Motley Crue, John Mayer, Nickleback, and plenty of others.

This has been the Rolling Stones’ last world tour to date; however, if another one is planned, it will surely be just as successful.


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41 Comments

  1. darkknight9761 on

    Maybe I'm just being a fanboy geek, or at least a life long die hard fan, but what about on of the numerous tours by KISS? During the 70's, they broke stadium records in some places that were held by the Beatles and still stand to this day. They also made more money than God during the seventies. I know, the 70's were 30 years ago, but still…

  2. Jill....Not Jillian on

    Don't get me wrong, I love these kinds of lists but I feel like this one is lacking. If I personally had written it, I would have only allow one entry per artist to actually have some sort of variety….On the whole, it was predictable.

  3. Kiss didn't have millions of attendees at their concerts. Most ranged between 13k-14k.

    As for variety on the list, I simply did it by numbers. Variety would be nice but I'd rather have a factual list rather then focus on having numerous artists.

    • I'm not trying to start anything, but cant it be factual and still have variety? I'd like to think of this as constructive criticism from someone who patronizes your site daily.. I look forward to your next list.

      • Ashley is one of our most prolific writers on the site and while she does a good job, pleasing everyone is impossible. I personally thank you for being a regular reader and hope you continue to visit often. Most of our lists have variety and we usually get pummeled for a lack of source back up, as the lists tend to be opinionated. Rarely do we do a list based on actual numbers. I guess this is just one of those times. How about a list of the most influential music tours?

    • What about GN’R Use Your Illusion tour? That beat all these figures!!!!!. From 1991 through to 1993 they played to over 7 million people! that beats less then 5 million by the Stones. This is simple mathematics.

      • But wasn’t some of the tour shared with Metallica as co-headliners? Does that count?

        That was a long old tour though!

  4. also what about The Beatles at Shea Stadium? Did that stack up anywhere near the shows you listed above?

    • From what I could see online, only 55,000 people attended that concert – the lowest ranking spot on the list had an attendance of 3 million, so the Beatles as Shea Stadium doesn't even come close to ranking, since this particular list is based on attendance numbers. I thought this list was great – I was surprised about Tina Turner and Cher's appearance.

    • I don't think they toured in '76? "76,229 people attending their Pontiac Silverdome concert on 30 April (1977). It was, according to the Guinness Book of Records, the largest attendance to date for a single act show" [from Wikipedia]. I didn't see an attendance number online for the whole tour, maybe someone else can find it?

      • Oops yeah 77 sorry. Thanks for the info though, I'll see if I find it. Great list by the way, really enjoyed it.

  5. This list is the worst ever. The most successful tour ever, that still rages on to this very day,

    THE GRATEFUL DEAD!!!!! Cmon do your music history research before forgetting one of the most influential bands of all time!!

    GDF

    • I'm going to try to resist hinting that all of those Dead concerts may have effected your short term memory and instead point out that if you've read the intro to this list, you'd see that the writer ranked success according to tour attendance. I think GD's largest concert audience was 600,000 so I doubt any of their tours would be eligible. If this was a list of best touring bands ever, or bands who toured the most…

  6. -stands up and applauds-

    Michael is the King of Pop. People would have KILLED to see him live…well at least I would have. 😉

  7. It just the matter of tickets availability and price…if there's a 100.000 tickets with low price,it's doesn't matters who's on stage…it will crowded…

  8. 🙂 you can put AC/DC in the number 1 spot now: After criss-crossing the globe for over 20 months and playing to over 5 million people, AC/DC's Black Ice World Tour came to a close in Bilboa, Spain on June 28, 2010. The Black Ice World Tour took AC/DC to 108 cities in over 28 countries. AC/DC kicked off the tour on the heels of releasing their critically lauded album Black Ice, which soared to the #1 spot on album charts in over 29 countries around the globe. The Black Ice World tour was heralded by fans and critics alike, with the Chicago Tribune calling it “a celebration of all that is great about rock ‘n’ roll,” calling the band’s music as “Rock 'n' roll that outlasts time.” Earlier this year AC/DC’s Black Ice World Tour won a Pollstar Award for Major Tour of the Year.

    More people and in less dates than the stones.

  9. There seems to be some confusion about the numbers. It's the total number of people who attended

    the tour, not the number at any one show.

    The Grateful Dead, by virtue of an over twenty year long tour and often among the top grossing acts probably deserve a mention.

  10. You´ve forgot Michaels World Dangerous tour (1992/1993)….3,5 millions of attendees….Yes, I know in that case Tina (my respect to her,she is great) will fall out from top ten,but ….,annyway,king of pop was and he will always be the king..

  11. sorry for digging this up after a year. but like someone else mentioned, GnR’s tour is reported to have gotten 7 million attendees… that beats any of these :O

    • I’m guessing you are referring to the Use Your Illusion tour – do you have a link to a reliable source that provides attendance numbers? I looked around and didn’t see anything – that might be a reason why it’s not on this list even though it’s one of the longest tours in history.

  12. Oh m go u forgt mj’s dangerous world tour which attracted 3.5million …..at only 65shows….history tour attracted 4.5million ..in just 87shows…….all other bands above list have toured over 120 shows …..to beat mj…had mj toured over 120shows he would be d no.1 …….so frnds east or west mj is d best

  13. So you’re telling me a tour that lasted less than a week had 4.5 million attendees and made 500 million? I don’t buy it.

  14. U2360°Tour is the biggest tour all time. it had 7 million attendees, maybe this dates from when it wasn’t finished yet.

  15. The Beatles must have been there somewhere, their tour in america, it wasn’t called the british invasion for nothing

  16. I know inflation only applies to $ figures. But when it comes to the number of adult concert goers in the 1960’s and 70’s versus now it is unfair to measure the successess of events that took place 20 and 30 years apart.

  17. Just to set the record straight,the biggest crowd ever in the Pontiac silverdome for a single act was on December 31,1976.Total paid attendace was 62,500 to see Elvis Presley.Thank you

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