Rock Stars Who Were Born Rich
The only thing worse than a spoiled-rotten rock star is a spoiled-rotten rock star who was born that way. There’s a popular theory that’s been around since at least the early ’70s that claims that middle-class people make the best rock ‘n’ roll. We’re not sure if that’s entirely true, but the middle and working classes (as well as artists below those levels) certainly have more on the line than folks born with a silver spoon in their mouths. Either way, the artists who make our list of the Rock Stars Who Were Born Rich have recorded some great music over the years, even if they made their first million before they learned to walk.
Before he hooked up with Stevie Nicks in Los Angeles for a singer-songwriter duo that would eventually transform Fleetwood Mac from lumbering British blues band into world-dominating rock stars, Lindsey Buckingham spent his time in a California suburb. His dad owned a successful coffee plant. Young Lindsey, along with his two older brothers, spent a good deal of his free time swimming competitively. In high school, he became a star water-polo player, which says all you need to know about his pre-Mac finances.
Don’t let the twang fool you. Alt-country godfather Gram Parsons had little firsthand knowledge of the truck stops and barn dances he sang about. He grew up as Ingram Cecil Connor III and split his time between Georgia and Florida, where his grandfather owned and operated a citrus empire that was once responsible for one-third of the state’s crop. Parsons attended a prestigious boarding school as a child and later moved on to Harvard. But he never graduated; instead, he focused on his music, as a member of the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Byrds, and his interest in drugs, with buddy Keith Richards, before dying of an overdose at age 26.
Before she started schooling Mick Jagger (or was it Warren Beatty? Or David Geffen?) on vanity issues, Carly Simon was pretty well set, thanks to her dad, who co-founded the Simon & Schuster publishing house. Born and raised in New York City, Simon enjoyed all the privileges of being related to one of the world’s leading literary tastemakers, including stints at private liberal-arts schools like Sarah Lawrence College. In 1972 she married fellow singer-songwriter James Taylor, whose own childhood was also blessed with riches, bringing their collective funds somewhere in the upper gazillions.
Grace Slick fought the Man every opportunity she got in songs like ‘Volunteers’ with Jefferson Airplane. Thing is, her dad was the Man, which probably made for some very awkward holiday dinners. Her father worked for an investment-banking firm, which netted him tons of money — enough to make sure his little girl attended prestigious and private all-girls schools growing up. After a couple of years at colleges in New York and Florida, Slick and her husband formed a band and moved to San Francisco, where she became a fixture on the burgeoning hippie scene.
Despite the working-class thrash of his band’s music, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich grew up a spoiled rich kid in Denmark, where his Gandalf-looking dad amassed a fortune in the ’70s as one of the top-ranked tennis players in the world. Young Lars was even shipped to Los Angeles when he was 16 to pursue his own professional tennis training. But he soon met fellow metal fan James Hetfield, and together they helped shape the way heavy music sounds over the past 30 years, amassing their own fortune along the way.