Boxoffice Insider: Bonnie Raitt By The Numbers
Bonnie Raitt was among the artists already well-established in their careers when Pollstar was formed and began publishing in the early 1980s. And, even though the breakthrough in her career didn’t come until 1989 with the release of her 10th album, Nick of Time, Raitt’s box office history as a concert performer stretches back well before Pollstar’s early years of tracking ticket sales.
Her first reported shows as a headliner came in 1982 during our first year of operation. She toured that spring in support of her eighth album, Green Light, playing theaters and clubs in American cities with openers like the Robert Cray Band and John Hall. Top venues for the tour included San Francisco’s Warfield Theatre and Boston’s Orpheum Theatre, both with two shows slated and over 90% of the available tickets sold. Reports from 17 of those dates show a sold-ticket average of 2,416 per night.
In that decade, Raitt opened shows for a host of headliners such as The Band, John Prine, Stevie Ray Vaughan and John Fogerty. In 1989, she supported the Grateful Dead’s sold-out, four-show New Year’s run that drew 59,383 fans to Oakland Arena. It occurred just nine months after Nick of Time was released and two months before it won Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards.
One of Raitt’s 1990s-era tours was the 1998 Lilith Fair trek, where she’s listed in the lineup on 18 shows in the archives. One of them was a three-show July engagement at Detroit’s Pine Knob Music Theatre with 44,364 tickets sold and a gross topping $1.48 million (about $2.5 million today).
In the 20 years prior to 2000, Raitt’s box office history shows she participated in a total of 451 performances with sold tickets totaling over 2.37 million with $60.7 million in grosses. The value of those early grosses in 2022 dollars is well over $100 million, and perhaps closer to twice that amount.
Since 2000, she has concerts in the archives every year except two prior to the 2020 pandemic shutdown. In most of those years, Raitt’s touring schedules were heavy with either solo tours or co-headlining treks like the 2002 shed tour with Lyle Lovett that averaged 5,358 tickets per show at 37 venues. Another co-bill in 2009 with Taj Mahal averaged 3,371 tickets per night based on sales from 23 reported shows.
One of her busier years as a headliner was 2016 when she took her “Dig in Deep Tour” to cities in North America, Europe and Oceania during much of the year, then returned in the early months of 2017 for a final U.S. and Canadian jaunt. The California Honeydrops, Richard Thompson Trio and Royal Wood were among the show openers for the run that grossed $12.5 million from 184,719 tickets, according to box office counts from 68 performances.
Also in 2017, she moved 111,176 total tickets with James Taylor on his summer tour that included concerts at Major League Baseball parks in Washington, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston. Although she also had solo dates on the books, she continued to tour with Taylor again the following two years through February 2019, grossing $39.2 million from 442,554 tickets at 43 concerts.
Overall since 1982, Raitt has performed for over 4.3 million people at 952 shows for a total reported gross of $198 million.