Elton John’s tour ‘highest-grossing ever’ but here’s where U2, Taylor Swift, Rolling Stone rank


Five years, 278 shows and 5 million fans in attendance later, Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour became the highest grossing tour of all time and the first to gross more than US$800 million, according to Billboard — surpassing the likes of touring forces Ed Sheeran, U2 and the Rolling Stones.

Elton John performs at Orangetheory Stadium on January 24, 2023 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Rob Ball/WireImage)
Key Facts

Elton John embarked on his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour in 2018, intended to be his final concert tour.

The tour has grossed more than $817 million, becoming the highest-grossing tour of all time (surpassing Ed Sheeran’s Divide Tour) and the first to gross more than $800 million, Billboard announced Monday.

John has played 278 shows so far and sold 5.3 million tickets on his final tour, with 51 more European dates scheduled through July.

Sheeran still retains his record of the most tickets sold on a single tour — his Divide Tour sat 8.9 million fans.

Other acts with the highest grossing concert tours of all time include U2, The Rolling Stones, and Guns N’ Roses.

The 10 Highest Grossing Tours (all figures USD)
  1. Elton John, Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour: $817.9 million (2018-ongoing)
  2. Ed Sheeran, Divide Tour: $776.4 million (2017-2019)
  3. U2, U2 360º Tour: $736.4 million (2009-2011)
  4. Guns N’ Roses, Not In This Lifetime… Tour: $584.2 million (2016-2019)
  5. The Rolling Stones, A Bigger Bang Tour: $558.3 million (2005-2007)
  6. The Rolling Stones, No Filter Tour: $546.5 million (2017-2021)
  7. Coldplay, A Head Full Of Dreams Tour: $523 million (2016-2017)
  8. Roger Waters, The Wall Live: $459 million (2010-2013)
  9. AC/DC, Black Ice World Tour: $441 million (2008-2010)
  10. Metallica, WorldWired Tour: $416.9 million (2016-2019)
Big Number

US$1.863 billion. That’s John’s total tour gross dating back to 1986, making him the highest-grossing solo artist, ahead of Bruce Springsteen and Madonna, Billboard reported. He’s sold more than 19 million tickets in total across 1,573 shows.

No solo women have headlined any of the top 10 highest grossing tours — though that is set to change this year. Madonna’s 2008-2009 Sticky and Sweet tour is the highest grossing tour to date by a solo female artist, grossing US$407 million.

But Taylor Swift is set to dethrone Madonna’s record with her upcoming Eras Tour, which Billboard reported has sold US$591 million in ticket sales and will place her fourth on the list of highest grossing concert tours. Swift’s tour — which inspired wide backlash and scrutiny against Ticketmaster, the ticket sale company which struggled to accommodate the overwhelming demand for tickets — kicks off in March.

Bad Bunny was 2022’s top touring artist, grossing US$373.5 million and selling 1.8 million tickets in just one year, Billboard reported. He’s the first Latin act and the first act who does not perform in English to top Billboard’s year-end touring chart.

Bad Bunny embarked on two separate tours — El Último Tour Del Mundo and World’s Hottest Tour — becoming the only artist to complete two separate US$100-million grossing tours in one year, Billboard reported. Behind Bad Bunny in the 2022 year-end tour rankings are Elton John in second place and Sheeran, who embarked on his Mathematics Tour last year, in third.

Further Reading

Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour Is the Highest-Grossing Concert Tour of All Time (Billboard)

Bad Bunny Makes History as Top Touring Act for 2022: The Year in Charts (Billboard)