Richest CelebritiesSingers
Net Worth:
$10 Million
Dec 7, 1949 (74 years old)
5 ft 10 in (1.803 m)
Singer-songwriter, Musician, Actor, Composer, Film Score Composer, Voice Actor
United States of America
💰 Compare Tom Waits' Net Worth
Table of ContentsExpand
  1. Early Life
  2. Career
  3. Personal Life

What is Tom Waits' net worth?

Tom Waits is an American singer-songwriter and actor who has a net worth of $10 million. Tom Waits taught himself piano and played with the band The Systems during high school. He performed in various clubs all over Los Angeles, and recorded his first tracks under the Bizarre/Straight Label in the early 70s. He was signed to Asylum Records in 1972 and released his first album, "Closing Time" in 1973. Though the album was not commercially successful, multiple well-known artists covered tracks from it, and by the mid-70s he was touring, opening for such artists as Frank Zappa and Martha and the Vandellas. He broke into the mainstream with the 1979 release of "Small Change". He has released dozens of albums, been nominated for multiple Grammy Awards and won two, and was also nominated for an Oscar for his score for the film, "One from the Heart". He is also an actor, and has appeared in such films as "The Outsiders", "The Cotton Club", "Bram Stoker's Dracula", and "The Book of Eli".

Early Life

Tom Waits was born on December 7, 1949 in Whittier, California. He grew up with his older sister and younger sister and his parents, Jesse Frank and Alma Fern. His mother managed the household while his father taught Spanish at the local school in town. His father was an alcoholic and Waits later described him as rather a tough man. Waits attended Jordan Elementary School, where he was bullied. During this period of time, he learned to play the bugle and guitar.

In 1959, his parents separated and his father moved away from the family house. His mother took the children and relocated to Chula Vista, a suburb of San Diego. He began attending O'Farrell Community School, where he started a band called the Systems. He then began studying at Hilltop High School and was inspired by the 1950s Beat generation, developing a love of writers like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. At the age of 18, he dropped out of high school. He then began working at Napoleone's pizza restaurant in National City, California. He then worked in the forestry service as a fireman for three years and served in the Coast Guard. Waits then returned to school and enrolled at Chula Vista's Southwestern Community College where he studied psychology and also continued his musical interests.


In 1969, Waits began working as an occasional doorman for the Heritage coffeehouse, which held regular performances from folk musicians. He sometimes sang at Heritage as well and his set largely consisted of covering Bob Dylan and Red Sovine. He also began developing his own material over time. Waits started performing at other venues around San Diego before moving to Los Angeles to play at the Troubadour, a famed West Hollywood venue. There, he caught the attention of Herb Cohen, who signed him to a publishing contract and a recording contract. The recordings that were produced under that contract were later released in the early 1990s as "The Early Years Volume One" and "The Early Years Volume Two." Around this time, when living in Los Angeles, he met David Geffen who gave him a new recording contract with Asylum Records. The resulting album was "Closing Time."

To promote his debut album, Waits embarked on a U.S. tour where he performed as the supporting act for other established artists like Tom Rush, Danny O'Keefe, and Charles Rich, among others. He later began recording his second album, "The Heart of Saturday Night." He then toured with Frank Zappa, which bolstered his image and helped his career. In May of 1976, he embarked on his first European tour. A few months later, he recorded the album "Small Change," which was critically well-received and marked his first break into the "Billboard Top 100 Album List." He received much more press attention for the album as well.

In July and August of 1977, Waits recorded his fourth album called "Foreign Affairs." This album was not as well-received by critics as its predecessor and failed to make the "Billboard Top 100" album chart. He then shifted to a more jazz-oriented sound a couple of years later for his album "Blue Valentine." He recorded his final album under contract with Elektra-Asylum called "Heartattack and Vine."

Tom Waits

Scott Gries/Getty Images

Around this time, Waits decided he needed to reinvent himself artistically. His next album, "Swordfishtrombones," was recorded during a two-week trip to Ireland and he produced the album himself. The album abandoned the jazz sound characteristic of his earlier work. In 1985, Waits recorded his eighth studio album, "Rain Dogs." His sound continued to evolve over the years and did earn him more critical acclaim, particularly his albums in the 1990s like "The Black Rider," "Bone Machine, " and "Mule Variations." "Bone Machine won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album. "Mule Variations" also did well, earning him the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. The album was also named Album of the Year by "Mojo" magazine. In 2004, he released his fifteenth studio album, "Real Gone." He released his most recent studio album, "Bad as Me," in 2011.

In addition to his music career, Waits has done some acting work. Some films he has been in include "Domino," "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," "The Book of Eli," and "The Dead Don't Die," among many others.

While during his career, Waits did not experience commercial or chart success, he has attracted a cult fan following over the course of his career. He was included among the 2010 list of "Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Singers" and the 2015 list of "Rolling Stone's Greatest Songwriters of All Time." His sons have been covered by many musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Bob Seger, The Ramones, and Norah Jones.

Personal Life

During the 1970s, Waits had a brief relationship with comedian Elayne Boosler. He also had relationships with Bette Midler and Rickie Lee Jones. In 1980, he married frequent collaborator Kathleen Brennan. During their marriage, they had three children together – Kellesimone in 1983, Casey in 1985, and Blake in 1993. After marrying and having children, Waits became increasingly reclusive in order to protect the privacy of his family. He has often deflected questions about his personal life in interviews and has not sanctioned any official biographies.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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