In an unqualified commercial and critical success, Sir Paul McCartney was the top touring artist in the world for 2002, raking in $126.1 million, according to Billboard Boxscores. Delivering on a Supe

In an unqualified commercial and critical success, Sir Paul McCartney was the top touring artist in the world for 2002, raking in $126.1 million, according to Billboard Boxscores. Delivering on a Super Bowl promise to tour North America for the first time in nearly a decade, McCartney's spring and fall legs brought in $98.8 million domestically and secured another $27.5 million from dates in Mexico and Japan.

McCartney confirmed today (Dec. 19) that he will return to the road after the new year. "I'm thrilled with the success of this tour and with this accolade from Billboard," he said in a statement. "But I'm also pleased that we had so much fun doing the tour. I'd like to thank the band, our crew and all the crowds who helped to make it fun. We originally set out to play only a few weeks of gigs but it all grew to become something very special to me. So now we're looking at taking this show to new places for new fun in 2003."

The Rolling Stones rolled out three distinct productions for their 2002/2003 Licks tour, one each for stadium, arena, and theater configurations. Michael Cohl, president of tour promoter Grand Entertainment, broke with tradition and opted not to report Stones box office numbers to date.

But, even with the smaller venues on the route, industry sources confirm that the Stones will have taken in some $90 million and played to about 700,000 people by Boxscores' deadline. The tour is projected to pull out $120 million from North America before it turns international early next year.

Conversely, Cher's camp diligently reported results from her Clear Channel Entertainment-produced 2002 tour, and the results have been impressive. The lengthy Farewell Tour is one of the top few treks in the world, with grosses totaling $67.6 million for the year. Cher will extend the tour indefinitely into next year.

Billy Joel and Elton John are again one of the top performers of the year, with 34 arena dates that grossed $66 million. The tour was promoted in each market by CCE, and plans call for more dates in 2003. Meanwhile, more people saw Dave Matthews Band this year than any other act on the planet, with some 1.4 million passing through the gates to the tune of $52.8 million, even with no stadiums on the route.

Under the radar in the face of other more high-profile tours were outings by Neil Diamond ($52.2 million), Aerosmith ($36.3 million), the Eagles ($34.9 million), Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young ($34.9 million), and Jimmy Buffett ($27.7 million). And in a tour often marked by cancellations, postponements, and rescheduling, Creed still managed to get in more than 80 shows, moving into the big leagues of rock touring in the process with $37.3 million and 886,974 attendance, enough for the band to crack the Bilboard Boxscore top-10 for the first time.

Other tours of note included Britney Spears ($43.7 million), 'N Sync ($33 million), the Who ($28.6 million), Barry Manilow ($23.9 million), Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band ($22.2 million), and Blink-182/Green Day ($20 million). Ozzfest was the lone festival tour among the top-25, grossing $24.5 million.

As the top-grossing country artist, Kenny Chesney earned $22.7 million, followed by Toby Keith ($21.3 million) George Strait ($19.6 million), Alan Jackson ($18.8 million), and Brooks & Dunn ($19.5 million).

Visit Billboard.com's "2002: The Year In Music" section on tomorrow (Dec. 20) for more details on the year in touring.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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