Pedal to the Metal: Who is the biggest, most profitable heavy metal band ever?

Rock and roll will never die.

Not as long as Metallica, the most profitable heavy metal band ever, refuses to give up touring, playing awesome music and entertaining fans around the world.

Metallica, the heavy metal band from Los Angeles, circa 1981, has grossed over $1.4 billion touring over their almost 40-year career, according to Pollster, making them arguably the world’s biggest, most profitable heavy metal band of all time.

Formed by vocalist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, the group is known for fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive rock known as thrash metal.

The band has kept packing arenas, stadiums, and music festivals by singing their hits from countless albums including, "And Justice for All," "One," and "Enter Sandman." The group has sold more than 125 million albums worldwide with over 65 million of those sales in the U.S.

Guitarists James Hetfield (left) and Kirk Hammett (right) and drummer Lars Ulrich of the heavy metal quartet Metallica perform on July 2, 1988, in Houston. (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Much of the success of the band is due to their work ethic. The band which currently includes Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo continues to produce new music and has done so over several decades with tours to support those new albums.

The band is in the middle of an epic tour unlike anything ever before. Their WorldWired tour, in support of their latest album "Hardwired… to Self-Destruct," began in 2016 and will run through 2020, bringing the band to nearly every continent.

Since their inception, Metallica has sold nearly 22.1 million total tickets worth about $1.4 billion according to Pollstar Box office. That's more than AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne or any other rock band. Guns N’ Roses is the next closest competitor with a modest $800 million in ticket sales.

Metallica may be right behind another famous rock band, U2, who with their 360 tour in 2011 became the highest-grossing concert tour in history pulling in $736 million. But the metal band's profits continue to grow putting them alongside the Rolling Stones and Taylor Swift.

But what sets Metallica apart, is their outrageous merchandise sales records of over $125 million in North America alone and their ability to sell out shows in nearly every continent, including Antarctica.


“I keep thinking and forcing myself to think all our best years are still ahead of us. We may even turn professional and do this full time one day,” Metallica’s Ulrich told Pollstar. “That’s the MO. It’s always, ‘What’s your favorite record?’ It’s the next one, the one we haven’t recorded yet. It’s always about the possibilities, always about what can be, what’s coming. That, to me, is what this is all about and I think that attitude is a big part of the why Metallica still connects to so many people around the world.”