Photo and Feature Photo: noellium with tweaks by Kate Sedgwick and licensed CC.

The most famous rider of all time is a 1980’s Van Halen contract that stipulated that M&Ms must be provided but that all the brown ones must be removed and that failure to do so could result in cancellation of the contract [this among pages upon pages (53 to be precise) of requirements].

For those that don’t know, the rider (or backstage rider) is the contract signed by the promoters that hire musicians to play and includes not only the preferred snacks and meals of the talent, but specifics on required equipment, manpower, and security. Failure to meet any or all specifications without prior written permission from the band’s management may result in cancellation of the show. This is standard procedure.

Seen to be the absolute height of rock star prima donna-ism, Van Halen has revealed that the brown M&M clause was an insurance policy of sorts. If that part of the contract were overlooked, it could be assumed that parts of the rider that insured the band would be provided proper equipment that would not make them sound like ass, or at worst electrocute or smash them beneath tons of amps had also been ignored.

Still, this revelation can not explain the demands of other recording artists from the excessive to the deranged.

Snoop Dogg‘s demand to have a Playstation with four controllers and “1999 sport video cartridges” provided can probably not be considered a safety issue and as years go by, it’s probably harder and harder to fill this requirement as personal assistants are likely scouring e-Bay for versions of Madden, Triple Play and NCAA College that are more that 10 years old.

The personal direction of the phrasing, “Please trust that this will be some of the most important money you spend,” sparks the imagination. What would the consequences be? Are Snoop Dogg’s lackeys too stoned to remember to pack their own video games?

This and all direct excerpts of the riders are screencaps of material at TheSmokingGun.

Well, thanks to TheSmokingGun, there is a massive collection of riders available for your inspection and amusement. They’ve even gone to the trouble of categorizing acts by genre and sussing out the funny parts, detailing them and putting red arrows next to them so you don’t have to work so hard to find the weirdness.

The rider that made me develop a crush sight unseen on Jos Grain, roadie for Iggy and The Stooges (and said to be the best rider ever by TSG) is excerpted below:

This and all direct excerpts of the riders are screencaps of material at TheSmokingGun.

Not all acts treat the rider as a platform for their roadie’s future stand-up act – in fact this appears to be the only one that does.

Check out Chuck Berry’s dead serious transportation requirements:

TRANSPORTATION (Excluding Japan and Russia): One (1) automatic, four door Mercedes Benz (the largest of the S50D, S420 or S320) with a 15.6 cubic foot trunk, available with keys to be given to Artist upon Artist’s arrival at the airport. Internal transportation compensation in the local currency, equivalent to $1 per kilometer shall be paid at the termination of each venue for mileage during each engagement.

In other words, gas money. Right?

Poor Barbara Streisand.

Original image: Alan Light with tweaks by
Kate Sedgwick and licensed CC.

Whoever’s been threatening her (unless this is completely borne of her own paranoia) is sure to be gratified to see the lengths to which she is willing to go (and put everyone around her to) to insure her own security. Can you see her as the heroine in a Lifetime movie? It might be more amusing than the role she played in Funny Girl.

SECURITY: “This tour requires metal detectors at all entrance doors, including backstage and all employee entrances. These must be actively manned throughout the entirety of show day and the performance. Also, there will need to be a thorough inspection of the facility by a police K9 prior to sound check.
At venues where our engagement is more than one day in length, an overnight contingent of guards shall be maintained from 11:00PM on the first show day continuously until 4:00PM (or otherwise directed) on the afternoon of the second show day. And so on until the finish of the engagement.”

My mom’s from Minneapolis, home of the infamous Bob Dylan. His cigarette hoarding ways were legion there where it was reported by many fellow party-goers that Dylan would bum cigarettes all night long, waiting until everyone had smoked their last before deigning to smoke from his own pack when all stores were long closed at which point he would refuse to share with anyone. The apple must not fall far from the tree. Check out these entitled (AND EMPHATIC!!!!!) requirements from Jakob Dylan.

While “absolutely no reference” may be made while promoting The Wallflower’s to “Bob Dylan’s Son,” who else but second generation, spoiled rock royalty comes on like this? Hope he gets everything he needs.

This and all direct excerpts of the riders are screencaps of material at TheSmokingGun.

Though their self indulgent rehab-rock has turned me off for quite some time, The Red Hot Chili Peppers have seemed at least to be people that would be fun to hang out with. Certain tour rider requirements have me thinking otherwise.

This and all direct excerpts of the riders are screencaps of material at TheSmokingGun.

“I can’t relax! It’s just too damn blue in here!”

The Black Crowes should have someone who’s not talking to angels write their rider contract.

This and all direct excerpts of the riders are screencaps of material at TheSmokingGun.

Which is it? New and opened or new and unopened?

These are but a few. If you’re looking for a way to kill a few hours, or a recipe for comedy gold, I recommend digging through the available contracts yourself.

Community Connection

More interested in low maintenance travel for musicians? MatadorGoods might have just what you’re looking for. Have a peek at 12 Small Instruments for Travel.

Planning on taking the act on the road? Before you do, see 5 Things You Should Know When Traveling with Musical Instruments.