Music

Elvis Presley tops Michael Jackson and The Beatles in new achievement

Elvis Presley 'would have loved' new biopic film says Tom Jones

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How can you possibly compare music giants like Elvis Presley and The Beatles, who have sold more records than any other artists in music history? The Fab Four revolutionised pop and The King brought black rock and roll into the mainstream over their incredible careers which began over 60 years ago. Fans will always have their favourites, but occasionally the stars are still able to compete today, even from beyond the grave.

Forbes have posted their list of the highest-paid dead celebrities of 2022, with estates of late stars raking in hundreds of millions over the last 12 months. Elvis, who had his first-ever cinematic biopic released this year, made $110 million. Incredibly at least $80 million of this came from tour tickets, shows and merchandise, according to estate sources. The music icon, who died of a heart attack topped some other huge music legends who are no longer with us.

Michael Jackson, who died in 2009 after an accidental overdose, took $75 million this year. The King of Pop’s estate has been profiting not only from the back catalogue, but also from his Cirque de Soleil show in Las Vegas and MJ The Musical on Broadway. The latter will have grossed $80 million by this month, according to estate sources. This is incredibly impressive given that the show only debuted nine months ago.

Surprisingly far down the list were late Beatles stars John Lennon and George Harrison.

Lennon, who was shot dead at 40 in 1980, made $16 million this year. This was primarily his royalties from his solo and Beatles work. His estate also took an estimated $3.5 million thanks to music rights secured by Disney for Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back documentary.

Just behind him on $12 million is Harrison, who died of cancer aged 58 in 2001. The streaming miniseries gave his estate $2.5 million added to his annual takings from his back catalogue. Additionally, both he and Lennon made $2.6 million for The Beatles Cirque de Soleil show. Yet, overall, there was one music star who beat even Elvis in the 2022 earnings of the dead.

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David Bowie, who died aged 69 of cancer in 2016 made $250 million this year. This huge sum was thanks to the sale of the Ziggy Stardust singer’s publishing catalogue and masters to Warner Chappell Music in January. 

Despite being the biggest-earning dead music star of 2022, Bowie was third overall on the list. In second place on $400 million was basketball player Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash aged 41 in 2020. But at No 1 was JRR Tolkien, who died of pneumonia aged 81 in 1973, who made $500 million after the acquisition of Middle Earth Enterprises. 

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