Old Rockers Who Have Turned Into Top Business People

By Annie Mueller | August 18, 2011 AAA
Old Rockers Who Have Turned Into Top Business People

Old rockers don't die ... they start businesses.

Some of those businesses turn into huge successes. From their antics on stage as part of bands like KISS, Van Halen and U2, to the world of product branding, fashion merchandising and investing, these rockers know how to succeed in many venues.

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Gene Simmons
Gene Simmons is best known for his over-the-top outfits, make-up and stage antics as lead singer for the rock band, KISS. Simmons is a success off-stage as well. His fame as a rocker certainly gives him an edge in the business of KISS-branded merchandise. There are 3,000 licensed products from condoms to caskets, said Simmons, in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. KISS branding isn't his only business success, not by a long shot. Simmons is also the force behind Simmons Records, Moneybag clothing line and Simmons Abramson Marketing. (For related reading, see The Power Of Branding.)

Sammy Hagar
Hagar and his Van Halen bandmates ventured into business via tequila. In 1992, they opened a tequila bar in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Though it took a while to get things going, by 1996 they were doing well enough for Hagar to branch into his own tequila line called Cabo Wabo. In 2007, Hagar sold Cabo Wabo to Skyy Spirits, maintaining 20% ownership in the business.

Jon Bon Jovi
Bon Jovi isn't limited to music. He also stands proudly in the ranks of celebrity sports team owners as owner of the Philadelphia Soul. The Soul were the 2008 Arena Football League champions. According to Inc.com's Adam Hanft, Bon Jovi is no absentee masthead. "Bon Jovi named the team, created the mascot (the Soul Man), has a strong hand in designing the on-field events and devotes a ton of his time to the enterprise." (For additional reading, also take a look at Managing Your Personal Brand.)

Madonna
Madonna has been a savvy business woman for as long as she's been a celebrity, but her recent ventures have shown even more growth. In August of 2010, she launched a Material Girl brand of clothing, sold exclusively at Macy's. Since then, Macy's has expanded the line to 300 of its stores, up from 200 at the initial launch. Madonna's daughter, Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon, is following in her mother's entrepreneurial footsteps. After helping her mom design the Material Girl collection, she is launching her own spin of the brand with the launch of Material Girl Beauty, a line of make-up and beauty products.

Part of Madonna's secret to business success is her penchant for picking the right partners. For the Material Girl line, Madonna partnered with Iconix Brand Group, Inc. to form MG ICON. The joint venture then partnered with Macy's Inc. for a distribution network already perfectly in place for the target market of teenage girls who hang out at the mall.

For her next venture, Madonna partnered with her own manager, Guy Oseary, and with the founder and CEO of 24 Hour Fitness, Mark Mastrov, to form Hard Candy Fitness. According to a Fox Business report, 24 Hour Fitness is the world's largest privately owned fitness chain.

Bono
When not writing another song or leading U2 on stage, Bono might be busy checking on new investment opportunities for Elevation Partners. He's the managing director and co-founder of this private equity firm that makes large-scale investments in market-leading media, entertainment and consumer-related businesses. Bono works with people like Fred Anderson, former CFO of Apple Computer, and Bret Pearlman, formerly a senior managing director at the Blackstone Group.

Another notable Bono business is Edun Clothing. This company focuses on lifting up developing countries through trade. According to John Tozzi of Bloomberg Businessweek, both of these enterprises are linked to nonprofits. Along with business partner, Ali Hewson, Bono founded Edun in 2005 to be a for-profit business that would encourage trade with Africa. According to the Edun website, "The company actively works to increase trade with Africa and it is aiming to have 40% of its fashion collection produced in Africa by 2013." (Learn how to trace where your tax dollars and charitable donations are going. For more, see Navigating Government And Nonprofit Financial Statements.)

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The Bottom Line
Financial news about old rock stars is, too often, about impending bankruptcy, expensive drug addictions or business ventures that go flop in the harsh light of the non-rocker market. It's nice to know that there are old rockers who can keep it going strong, both on the stage and in the business world.

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