Spare A Dollar! 5 Performers Who Really Went For Broke

When Westlife’s Shane Filan filed for bankruptcy in June 2012, many of his friends rallied round to support him in his hour of need…by taking to Twitter to discuss the situation with millions of strangers. Filan’s financial woes were down to the recession, when the property ’empire’ run by he and his brother, collapsed amid spiralling debts. Filan isn’t the first pop star to ‘go under’, though. Plenty of others before him have seen their Croesus-like wealth disappear before their very eyes, but not all of them could blame outside forces for their own ‘economic downturns’.

MC Hammer
In the early-90s, Hammer was one of the richest people on the planet, thanks to the explosion of pop-rap, and a penchant for very big trousers. Hammer had all it all; the mansions, the cars, the women…but then it all went hideously wrong. There’s supposed to come a time when rich people just have so much money, it becomes impossible to spend it. Well, Hammer did, and then some. After years indulging friends and buying anything that moved, he ‘suddenly’ found himself $13m in debt, filing for bankruptcy in 1996. Today, he’s a “tech-media-mogul” (whatever that is), and an ordained Christian minister, who officiated at the Corey Feldman’s wedding in 2002. Now word on whether he still wears ‘those’ pants, though.

Willie Nelson
Nelson got on the wrong side of the IRS in 1990, when he was hit with a tax bill for a whopping $32m. Always one to buck the establishment, it shouldn’t have been a surprise to find out that Nelson had been sticking two fingers up at the US Treasury for most of his working life. Shocking, then, to find out it was actually his accountants, PriceWaterhouseCooper, who’d been fiddling his accounts. Nelson eventually negotiated the sum down to $6m and, in typical style, released The IRS Tapes: Who’ll Buy My Memories?, which soon paid off the debt. Nelson now resides in Hawaii, in a solar-powered house with a very, very thick mattress in his bedroom.

Mick Fleetwood
Not only did blues legend, Fleetwood, found one of the world’s biggest bands, he was brother-in-law (kind of) to both Eric Clapton and George Harrison, speaks fluent Norwegian, and hosted easily the worst awards show in the history of television – the 1989 BRITs. Adding to his kudos, is the fact that he snorted away his entire £10m fortune. In the mid-80s, Fleetwood filed for bankruptcy, which forced him to get clean. Today, he’s still touring with ‘Mac, and is father to 10-year old twin daughters, with his third wife, Lynn.

David Crosby
Forget Keith Richards, Vince Neil, or any other so called ‘hellraiser’. David Crosby is the ultimate party animal. Over the years, he’s taken every drug under the sun, drunk more alcohol than you’ll find at Oktoberfest, and has been ‘done’ for everything from a hit and run, to gun possession. Phil Collins even paid for his liver transplant, plus, he’s fathered countless offspring with various women, including two children with lesbian icon, Melissa Etheridge. The big surprise, then, is why it took him so long to go bankrupt, which he did, in 1985.

Billy Joel
Showbiz’s serial bankrupt-ee, Billy Joel has declared himself skint ‘multiple times’. His battle with drink, drugs and depression has been well-documented over the years (he once tried to kill himself by drinking furniture polish), which doubtless contributed to his debts. But it was being ripped off to the tune of $30m, by his crooked manager (and brother-in-law), Frank Weber, in the 1980s, that was to prove the most damaging hit. Three marriages and several stints in rehabs later, and Joel is now looking after his own cash.

So next time you are ordering your concert tickets spare a thought for the artists who might be penniless in the years to come.

Peter Owens writes for the comparison website which offer users event ticket listings and prices for thousands of concerts, gigs, theatre and arts events.