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McCartney 2002's Top Live Act

January 6, 2003 12:00 AM ET

Paul McCartney's lengthy U.S. tour behind his 2001 release, Driving Rain, pulled in $103.3 million in 2002, making it the top-grossing American tour of the year, according to Pollstar, the concert industry trade publication. Overall, more than $2 billion was made in ticket sales last year, a record figure.

The Rolling Stones' Licks Tour earned $87.9 million, as the second most profitable tour, followed by Cher's seemingly never-ending farewell tour ($73.6 million), Billy Joel and Elton John's sometimes troubled joint tour ($65 million), and the Dave Matthews Band's various tours ($60 million). The top ten also included Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, which will continue its world tour behind The Rising through this year, Aerosmith, Creed, Neil Diamond and the Eagles.

The top twenty tours were dominated by veteran acts, with the DMB, Creed, 'N Sync, and Britney Spears as the only relative newcomers among established acts like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; the Who; Rush; and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. If younger fans made a lesser impact, it might have something to do with money. The DMB was the year's biggest ticket seller with 1.5 million sold (according to the numbers more than 400,000 more than the next best act). But the band's almost populist price of close to $40 a ticket paled in comparison to the veteran horses like McCartney ($130) and the Stones ($120).

The new year brings some of these acts back around. Springsteen and the Stones are still on tour. The DMB is good for scores of dates annually. There is buzzing about another Eagles tour. And another band of reliable road warriors, Phish, have lined up their first tour in more than two years.

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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