MC Hammer's on the comeback trail. His new reality show, "Hammertime," premiered June 14 and promises to chronicle his adjustment to middle-class life. For those of you who missed the past 13 years, Hammer filed for bankruptcy in 1996 after burning through $33 million. Since then, he's presumably adjusted to living on a budget with his five kids.
Musicians burn through more cash than the Federal Reserve. When it's gone, their bailout comes in the form of tell-all books, reunion tours (that they swore they'd never do), TV commercials, and reality shows. With any luck, they get a better accountant the second time around.
Here are some of the more harrowing musician bankruptcy stories. As the jobless rate approaches 10 percent, and foreclosures are at an all-time high, it's comforting to know we're not alone. It's hard making ends meet on just a few million a year.
By the early '80s, Fleetwood Mac's drummer had sold more than 55 million albums and was selling-out tours all over the world. While his bandmates were able to hold on to their wealth, Fleetwood filed for bankruptcy in 1984. He blew millions on real estate (including a $1.8 million farm in Australia and a$400,000 home in Hawaii) and failed restaurants. Oh... and drugs. Fleetwood estimates he spent $8 million on cocaine. He saved a bunch of money by kicking his habit in '91, then he got the band back together for a '90s bailout tour, which put an estimated $3.5 million in his pocket so he could get himself on his feet again.
Meat Loaf's 1977 album "Bat Out of Hell" earned him millions of dollars, but his managers were stealing most of it before he could see it. When he found new representation, the old managers had Meat's assets frozen and sued him for breach of contract. He was forced to file for bankruptcy in 1981. He made a new album to dig himself out of debt. No luck. It bombed, and the Loaf went bankrupt a second time.
Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas were about to record their sophomore album, "CrazySexyCool," when Lopes set her boyfriend's house on fire in an alcohol-induced rage. The album ended up selling more than 11 million copies, but it wasn't enough to save the band from bankruptcy. They were on the hook for $3.5 million of debt from Lopes' arson, Watkins' medical bills (she suffers from sickle cell anemia), and a bad record deal. The band never fully recovered, and on the eve of the release of their fourth album, "3D," Lopes was killed in a car accident in Honduras.
The Motown legend lost his fortune like a lot of dudes... in a divorce. Gaye's wife, Anna (sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy), filed in 1975, and Gaye agreed to give her royalties from his next album as his alimony payment. "Here, My Dear" was released in '78 and was filled with intimate, angry details of Gaye's failed marriage. It tanked. Gaye also owed money to the IRS and a few drug dealers. He filed for bankruptcy in 1979 and ended up living in a van in Hawaii. He was shot to death by his father in 1984.
Long before Wesley Snipes decided he didn't need to pay the IRS, Willie Nelson was dodging...click to continue reading