Skip to main content

What Are the 10 Top-Grossing Summer Concerts Ever? The Three Tenors (Yes, You Read That Right) and More

The Three Tenors made how much for one stadium gig? Plus nine other record-setting paydays...

Actual gross $13,404,350

Location Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

Date July 20, 1996

Founded in 1990 to raise money for the International Leukemia Foundation after Spanish singer Jose Carreras beat the disease, The Three Tenors became an undisputed juggernaut, taking classical music to previously unseen commercial heights during their ­lucrative 1990s run. In addition to smashing classical sales records with more than 23 million albums sold, the trio routinely sold out the biggest stadiums on the planet, individually earning roughly $500,000 per appearance. Scheduled during the height of their popularity, this record-setting show at the Meadowlands featured the Tenors’ road-tested mix of beloved arias and standards like “Moon River.” It took place during their 1996 tour, for which the maestros pulled down a ­whopping $10 million apiece.

Actual gross $18,194,374

Location AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas


Date June 7, 2014

The so-called King of Country has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, so it’s not surprising that the final show on the final tour of his illustrious four-decade career sold out all 104,793 seats in Arlington’s AT&T Stadium. Special guests that night included Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson and Miranda Lambert.

Chart Highlights: U2 Debuts Biggest AC Hit Since 1992 With ‘Every Breaking Wave’

What Are the 10 Top-Grossing Summer
Actual gross $8,927,150

Location Jones Beach MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

Date July 20, 2011

For its 360° Tour — a three-year escapade that lasted from 2009 to 2011 and staged 110 shows in 30 countries — the band constructed a massive structure nicknamed “The Claw” that allowed the foursome to play stadiums in the round. This had the added benefit of increasing venue capacity by as much as 25 percent, which led to record attendance of 7.2 million. U2‘s fourth-to-last show at the Meadowlands wasn’t the tour’s highest attended (that would be the Rose Bowl gig at 94,014), but with ticket prices averaging $140, this 88,491 sellout performance was its most lucrative.

Three Tenors 1996
Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti wave to the sold out Giants Stadium crowd during the encore at the Three Tenors concert Saturday night, July 20, 1996, in East Rutherford, N.J.  AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

What Are the 10 Top-Grossing Summer
Actual gross $6,092,944

Location Tiger Stadium, Detroit, Mich.

Date July 17, 1999

This concert at Tigers Stadium drew what for the Tenors would be considered a small crowd: a mere 31,441 people. However, these monsters of opera fans paid up to $1,057 per ticket, with the lowest-priced seat going for $70. The iconic venue was closed just a few months later, and ultimately razed to the ground.

Sting’s 20 Biggest Billboard Hot 100 Hits

What Are the 10 Top-Grossing Summer
Actual gross $6,415,610

Location Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

Date Aug. 5, 2007

The Police didn’t invent the reunion tour, but they demonstrated just how profitable it could be during their eagerly anticipated 2007-08 run. Announced shortly after the re-formed band appeared at the 49th annual Grammys, the tour grossed more than $360 million by the time it wrapped in August at New York’s Madison Square Garden in New York. It was surprisingly no-frills, with the act performing on an unremarkable oval stage flanked by LED screens. As evidenced by the 55,247 fans who packed the Meadowlands on the tour’s highest-grossing night, you don’t need high-tech fanfare when your songs are this good.

What Are the 10 Top-Grossing Summer
Actual gross $7,076,001

Location Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.

Date July 28, 2013

Promoting the release of Magna Carta… Holy Grail and The 20/20 Experience, respectively, Hova and JT presaged the blockbuster tour when the former joined the latter during a performance of “Suit & Tie” at the 2013 Grammys. This date at the Rose Bowl was the outing’s highest attended, with 63,162 tickets sold. The set list included “99 Problems,” “Hard Knock Life” and a Timbaland cameo on “SexyBack.” Timberlake even teed up Jay’s “Empire State of Mind” with the Sinatra classic “New York, New York.”

Paul McCartney performs part of his "Out There" tour at Candlestick Park 2014
Paul McCartney performs part of his "Out There" tour at Candlestick Park on August 14, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Paul McCartney’s Top 10 Billboard Hits

What Are the 10 Top-Grossing Summer

Actual gross $7,023,107

venue Candlestick Park, San Francisco

Date Aug. 14, 2014

Paul McCartney‘s Out There Tour is still underway, but there’s no way he’ll match this show’s significance: Macca’s Candlestick set was the final event ever to be held at the historic San Francisco stadium, with planning underway to demolish it. What’s more: The Beatles played their last official concert at the ballpark nearly 50 years ago on Aug. 29, 1966. “You were pretty cool then, and you’re pretty cool now,” Sir Paul told the audience as he closed the show.

What Are the 10 Top-Grossing Summer
Actual gross $6,090,704

Location Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.

Date July 7, 2007

Held simultaneously in 11 countries around the world with more than 150 acts performing, the one-day Al Gore/Kevin Wall production was broadcast across all known media and ultimately benefited the fight against climate change. Nearly 50,000 fans attended the concert at Giants Stadium, which featured performances by The Police, Kanye West, Roger Waters, The Smashing Pumpkins, Bon Jovi, John Mayer, Akon and many more.

akon live earth 2007
Akon performs during Live Earth New York at Giants Stadium on July 7, 2007 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  Mat Szwajkos/Getty Images

What Are the 10 Top-Grossing Summer
Actual gross $6,209,342

Location Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.

Date July 18, 2009

Billy and Elton earned untold ­millions singing a combination of one another’s tunes when the piano men formed their Face to Face touring partnership in 1994, but the union ultimately dissolved in 2010 amid much public squabbling.

Elton John Extends Record For Most AC Hits

What Are the 10 Top-Grossing Summer
Actual gross $4,837,465

Location Invesco Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo.

Date Aug. 11, 2001

The famously internecine Eagles defied Don Henley’s “when hell freezes over” decree and proved that no band is immune to the temptations of what Glenn Frey once called the “Lost Youth and Greed Tour.” The group’s 2001 reunion gig at Mile High Stadium was its most lucrative yet, despite the absence of recently ejected guitarist Don Felder.

This story originally appeared in the May 23 issue of Billboard