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The Rolling Stones, U2 and Madonna Named Top Touring Acts of Decade

December 16, 2009 12:00 AM ET

The Rolling Stones were the most successful live band of the decade as the rockers' 264 concerts over the past 10 years grossed over $869 million, good enough for Number One atop Billboard's Top Touring Acts of the 2000s list. Only three artists surpassed the $800 million mark for the decade and are now able to brag to friends that they grossed more than most countries' yearly gross national product: the Stones, U2 with $844 million and Madonna, who was both the top-grossing female and solo artist, with $802 million.

While the Rolling Stones took the decade's crown, U2 were easily the most in-demand live act as all 288 shows the band performed this decade were sold out, a stat no other artist this decade can claim. With U2 set for the second leg of their 360 Tour in 2010, it's only a matter of time before they surpass $1 billion for the past 11 years. Of the 25 acts on Billboard's list, the Dave Matthews Band performed in front of the most fans, selling over 11 million tickets over the course of 547 shows, good for $505 million and seventh on the list. Coming in at Number Four was Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band with a hearty $688 million from 403 shows.

The Police and Paul McCartney needed the least amount of shows to get onto the Billboard list: The reunited Sychronicity band played only 144 shows but managed to place 11th with $362 million, while Paul McCartney needed only 106 shows to gross $239 million. Other notables on the list include Billy Joel at 10, the Eagles at 12, Metallica at 19 and Britney Spears at 21.

Related Stories:
The Rolling Stones' Real "Bang": Tour Hits Guinness Book as Most Successful Ever
Madonna Wraps Record-Breaking Sticky & Sweet Tour in Israel
U2 Announce First Batch of 2010 North American 360 Tour Dates

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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