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No brown M&Ms! A guide to rider requests from the stars

Peter Holley (c) 2014, The Washington Post. So you want to book Hillarypalooza? For starters, you’re going to need some serious wampum — like $300,000 worth, if you’re getting the “special university rate.” From there, things get somewhat easier, assuming you and your team have easy access to lemon wedges, quadrilateral pillows and hummus.

According to internal communications obtained and published by This Very Publication, Hilary Rodham Clinton’s notable requirements include:

– A case of room-temperature water (still only — no bubbles)

– A “computer, mouse and printer, as well as a scanner”

– A lavaliere microphone

– Chairs with two long rectangular pillows

– “A carafe of warm/hot water, coffee cup and saucer, pitcher of room temperature water, water glass, and lemon wedges,” onstage as well as in a VIP meet-and-greet room.

– And diet ginger ale and a platter of crudité and hummus in the green room.

Critics have said Team Hillary operates in a “rock star-like manner” (though it’s unclear what rock stars demand computer scanners backstage in 2014). But how does she compare to actual rock stars — the kind whose backstage demands have famously included things like “herring in sour cream” and a ban on brown M&Ms?

Take a look, with help from the Smoking Gun’s invaluable archive of backstage riders:

– Coldplay

In its rider, Coldplay — a band that consists of actual rock stars, including the father of a human named after a type of pomaceous fruit — demands, in all caps, “COLD STRONG CONTINENTAL LAGERS.” Must be “BECKS or equivalent,” the band continues, shifting between lowercase and uppercase like a terrible person, “NOT STELLA & NOT U.S. BEERS.”

Also listed are 60 bath-sized towels; access to at least four hot showers “all day long”; and “a selection of nibbles,” which is a thing, we suspect, that British people say.

– Drake

The hip-hop star requires “four dozen natural scented incense sticks,” scented candles, two packs of Hanes white T-shirts (size: large), and a single bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint soap, according to his rider. Oh, and don’t forget the “veggie lasagna.”

– The Rolling Stones

During the Bigger Bang tour in 2005, the Stones asked for separate dressing rooms for the band members, all whom had individual requests and requirements. For Mick Jagger, those included a phone line, a high-speed internet connection, four “folding gig chairs,” four “separate electrical circuits,” two 6-foot banquet tables and a television with a satellite or cable hookup, along with a related request: “Please find out what channel is showing cricket, that is the channel we need most of all.”

The rider also includes a request for a second area to be set aside for Jagger: “The running area should be a private area, approx. 25 to 30 feet long and 10 feet wide. A quiet area not far from the dressing room is ideal. … Occasionally, the promoter will need to provide non-see through pipe and drape for this area.”

There was also a request for a separate room for snooker; but promoters didn’t need to stress too much, since the band traveled with its own table.

– M.I.A.

The British rapper is like Hillary Clinton in at least one way: They both need their hummus. M.I.A.’s backstage menu from this 2011 rider also features a tray of European cheeses and crackers, a selection of “quality chocolates,” and a bottle of absinthe. Not to be overlooked, her rider reminds, are the three women between the ages 20 and 25 who can “groove to the music” onstage for the duration of the show. They need to be the same height, with the same body types, and should be “wearing full covered Burkas.”

– Meat Loaf

The “Bat Out of Hell” singer’s rider features bottled water “suggestions,” including Poland, Fuji and Arrowhead. Struck from the list: Dasani, Aqua Fina “or any filtered water.”

The “worldwide ‘superstar’ artist” also has a taste for fine wine, sautéed green beans almandine (“crisp not soggy”), and Cracker Jacks and Winterfresh gum (two packages, please). He likes has gala apples “hard and crunchy,” his Kettle-brand potato chips salt-free, his fruit plates sans strawberries, and his muffins low-fat and baked fresh “from a bakery (no pre-packaged).”

His demands include a dressing room that “must be star quality with attached bathroom and shower.”

– 50 Cent

In addition to Cuban cigars, 50 Cent wants some chicken and shrimp — but those items should not be purchased and placed in the dressing room until his tour manager gives the go-ahead. And one other thing: “SHRIMP MUST BE KEPT ON ICE.”

Questions about the Cuban cigars and shrimp-on-ice? Call “Ralph.”

– Van Halen

“Behold the Holy Grail,” the Smoking Gun says in its entry on “the most famous rider of them all, the one in which Van Halen famously stipulated that brown M&M’s were to be banished from the band’s dressing room.” Among the demands on the vintage (circa 1982) 53-page Van Halen document: “Herring in sour cream,” four cases of 16-ounce cans of Schlitz, eight bottles of wine and liquor, large tube of KY Jelly and “M & M’s (WARNING: ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES).”

Per the Smoking Gun: “While the underlined rider entry has often been described as an example of rock excess, the outlandish demand of multimillionaires, the group has said the M&M provision was included to make sure that promoters had actually read its lengthy rider. If brown M&M’s were in the backstage candy bowl, Van Halen surmised that more important aspects of a performance — lighting, staging, security, ticketing — may have been botched by an inattentive promoter.”

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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