Paul McCartney and Kanye West
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Kanye West, the Beatles: 5 expensive albums by GRAMMY winners
The music business is, after all, a business. In the traditional model, record companies fronted their artists' recording costs with hopes of making that money back on sales. Simple enough.
But how much does it cost to make a great record? That's where it gets complicated.
While today's success stories are rife with home-recorded hits and albums created on iPhones, the music industry has seen its share of overblown, prolonged and downright exorbitant productions, leaving label financiers in a ball of stress. In a recent list compiled by Flypaper of the most expensive albums ever produced, five conspicuous GRAMMY-winning artists made the cut.
At the top of the list is the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, (costing approximately $932,000 if it were made today) and Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (which cost $3 million in 2009). These move to the top of the heap, not because of sheer cost, but because both albums went on to win GRAMMYs for 1967 and 2011, respectively.
Fleetwood Mac also spent $3 million on Tusk, the ambitious 1979 double-album follow-up to their wildly successful Album Of The Year-winning Rumours. That same year, Steely Dan was in full swing, but about to hit a rough patch with legal battles and health issues, contributing to the hard-to-calculate cost of 1980's Gaucho. Expenses included $150,000 for the creation of a drum machine, nicknamed Wendel, alone.
In the same way, Garth Brooks surprised the world by shooting to the top of the sales charts when Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991. His alter ego, Chris Gaines, shot to the top of Flypaper's list with a jarring cost of $20 million for recording and promoting 1999's … The Life Of Chris Gaines. Perhaps the only band to come close to that amount was GRAMMY nominees Guns N' Roses. Their near-mythical creation, 2008's Chinese Democracy, spanned 14 years and tallied up $13 million in invoices.
Other notable artists on this list are Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipients the Beach Boys, who represented with their 1966 masterpiece, Pet Sounds, and the Grateful Dead's acid-laced third album, 1969's Aoxomoxoa.