It’s never been that far to the top for AC/DC as the enduring rockers proved by heading this year’s list of Australia’s richest entertainers.
The ageing rock band dislodged the brightly clad Wiggles from the No.1 spot in the 2009 BRW Top 50 Entertainers list, with revenue of $105 million - a nine-fold increase on the previous year.
Some of AC/DC’s hits over the years have coincided with the depths of the economic cycle, such as their successes during the recessions of the 1970s and 1980s. The band released its Black Ice album in October last year just as governments around the world rushed out emergency spending to avert a financial meltdown. The band’s contribution was to embark on a 17-month world tour.
“They’ve always been steady on the list but have come from $12 million last year to $105 million this year, blowing everyone out of the water,” BRW reporter Jane Lindhe said.
This year's takings are "retirement income for them”, she said.
Lindhe said the band – famous for such hits at Highway to Hell and Back in Black – is actually run by savvy businessmen.
Members include Scottish-born brothers Angus and Malcolm Young, and singer Brian Johnson who joined the band in 1980 following the death of singer Bon Scott.
Their strategy of selling tickets for no more than $US150 for their current tour has benefited sales worldwide, she said.
At the other end of the list was Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush. His takings of $1.6 million ranked him at No.50.
Kylie at No. 2
Singer Kylie Minogue retained the No.2 spot with an estimated take of $47 million, up from the $40 million last year.
The Wiggles, a favorite among children, came in at No.3 with revenue of $45 million, down from $50 million, BRW said. BRW is owned by Fairfax, publisher of this website.
Russell Crowe was the highest paid actor with $25 million in the 2009 list, which placed him in the No.4 spot, down from No.3 in last year’s rankings.
Country music star Keith Urban came in at No.5, with $20 million, beating his actor wife Nicole Kidman, who ranked 9th with $11 million.
BRW said 14 stars dropped off this year’s list, making room for newcomers such as radio entertainers Hamish Blake and Andy Lee of Hamish & Andy fame. Controversial shock jocks Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O’Neill also made it in the top 50.
Other new entrants include actors Luke Ford, Hugo Weaving and Toni Collette.
Among those dropping off the top 50 were Silverchair, which was ranked 23rd last year with earnings of $4.2 million.
"But they're not touring at the moment, so they've dropped off the list," Lindhe said.
Ex-Neighbours soap star Jesse Spencer didn't quite make the list this year, after ranking No.36 last year with $2.3 million.
Author Bryce Courtney, who ranked in the No.45 spot last year with $1.5 million, wasn't on the list this year, in part because he didn't have a new book out this year.
Actress Poppy Montgomery, in the No.31 spot last year, also dropped off the list as she took time off for motherhood and her TV show was cancelled.