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Copyright © 2020 by Lee Silber

Business School of Rock

What do Jimmy Buffett, Sammy Hagar, and Bono have in common? They are all rock stars, but all also made more money from their “side” businesses than their music. Jimmy Buffett turned one song (“Margaritaville”) into an empire. (By the way, the song only reached #8 on the charts in 1977.) It all started with a small T-shirt shop in Key West and turned it into a chain of restaurants, hotels, and merchandise that far surpasses his money made from music.

  Sammy Hagar did not have a happy childhood and grew up dirt poor, but began his entrepreneurial pursuits by building bikes before he was a famous rock star. When he first open Cabo Wabo Cantina in Cabo San Lucas, he invited his Van Halen bandmates to invest—which they did, but they all asked for their money back after the bar and grill struggled. Sammy developed his own tequila which he sold for $55 million dollars. 

Bono’s private equity firm invested heavily in Facebook and made millions—of which he donates a great deal of to charity. Bono also founded a clothing line with his wife.

OTHER ROCK STAR ENTREPRENEURS • Ian Andersonof Jethro Tull fame started several successful salmon farms.

• Gwen Stefani, lead singer of No Doubt started the clothing line, L.A.M.B. 

• Maynard James Keenan of Tool fame owns a boutique winery that produces 2,500 cases a year. 

• Bret Michaels, lead singer of Poison, owns a company that sells pet accessories.

• Gene Simmonssuccessfully oversees the merchandising and licensing of everything KISS.

• Alex Lifeson, the Rush guitarist owns a nightclub in Toronto called The Orbit Room.

• Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden is a pilot who also owns Cardiff Aviation.

• Michael Anthony, formerly the bassist for Van Halen, has his own line of hot sauces.

• Joey Kramer, drummer for Aerosmith, has his own brand of coffee and coffee shops.

• Boz Scaggsowns Slim’s, a popular San Francisco nightclub.

Sure, many musicians squandered their earnings, but others were smart and invested them. The same is true for the rest of us as well.


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