I’ve always been fascinated by artists’ tour riders. Those special indulgences that stars expect in their dressing room…and concert promoters must provide. Most bands are satisfied with basic food, beer and water.
Then there’s the crazy stuff.
It started back in the 1950s when Frank Sinatra demanded an upright piano, a fully stocked bar and 12 rolls of cherry lifesavers. The always sensible Paul McCartney wanted his greenroom to be dry-cleaned and decorated with halogen floor lamps.
Now, let’s enter the bizarro world.
Mariah Carey needed a full staff to stock her bathrooms with pink toilet paper. James Brown required two girls under the age of 21 and a ladies’ hair dryer. Iggy Pop demanded a Bob Hope impersonator who told golf jokes. Kanye West insists on a barber’s chair and slushy machine filled with Hennessy and Coke. The Beach Boys wanted 48 bath towels, a pack of Marlboro Lights and a roll of Saran Wrap.
Then there’s Van Halen, the world champs of tour riders.
Here’s my take. Van Halen’s rider famously stated, “There will be no brown M&M’s in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.” David Lee Roth explained, “If I came backstage and saw brown M&Ms, I knew the promoter hadn’t read the rider. And if he missed that clause, he probably skipped more important things.”
John Bauer, a former concert promoter, explained, “Van Halen toured with a massive stage production and put a ton of faith in promoters to ensure things went smoothly. So, the band hid the M&M clause in their encyclopedia-fat rider as a trip wire that triggered a warning if something wasn’t right.”
So, join me in celebrating Diamond Dave’s 68th birthday. You can be sure there’ll be no brown M&Ms on his cake.