Musicians’ Strangest Requests- An Ode to the Concert Rider

Snoop Dogg’s rider from Houston’s Free Press Summer Fest.

It’s hard to imagine the life of a touring musician. With multiple stops in different cities, sometime countries, each week and a tour bus as your home, life is sure to be a bit hectic. But after experiencing a few tours worth of life on the road, many musicians have found a way to make up for some of the creature comforts they miss out on by being away. Some in bigger ways then other…MUCH bigger.

Enter stage left: The artist rider. The rider is a list of requests (demands?) a performer submits to each venue of day-of-show requirements, ranging from specific foods to personnel needs to safety requirements.

Inspired by the picture we received of Snoop Dogg’s requests for Houston’s Free Press Summer Fest, we decided to explore this subject a bit further. Just for funsies, we’re going to highlight some of the most outrageous rider requests known to man. Special thanks to The Smoking Gun, our source for the majority of this outlandish information. Here goes nothin’.

1: Van Halen

Bron M&M’s are a no-no for Van Halen. Image courtesy of Flickr user Stijn Vogels.

The cream of the crop and where crazy requests may very well have gotten their start. Van Halen’s rider, in

addition to very specific technical requirements, requested that a bowl of M&M’s be placed in the band’s dressing room with all of the brown M&M’s removed.

As it turns out, this diva-esque request was actually made with the best of intentions. David Lee Roth revealed that this was actually a test for the band to judge how closely the venue had followed the specifications of the rider. If a brown M&M was found in the jar, it could be deducted that the venue had not been as thorough as necessary, which in candy terms since silly, but when applied to electronic equipment and heavy stage sets, it actually makes perfect sense. By not following Van Halen’s rider to a T, the venue could possibly put the lives of band members, fans, or the road crew at risk.

Little did Roth know that he opened up the door for a new generation of over-the-top rider requests, most of which seem to be a bit more trivial…

2: Mariah Carey

This brings me to our next jewel. This may not be a shocker, but it’s safe to say that Mariah Carey may be a bit high maintenance. Her requests for one particular gig included a $200 bottle of wine, lamps to avoid harsh dressing room lighting, aromatherapy candles, and two dozen white roses. But, perhaps my favorite of them all, was Carey’s request of a “staircase assistant” whose main task consisted of testing stairs to make sure they are safe for the singer to walk down (more details here).

3: The Foo Fighters

While the Foo Fighters have a very length, very detailed rider, they managed to take the diva status down many notches by spicing their requests up with creativity. Creativity of what kind, you ask? To start things off, they included a coloring book and activity pages. But the most entertaining aspect is the wording of the request themselves. Below are a few of my favorite excerpts:
•    “Every lunch should feature a vegetarian soup. Dinner should have a different vegetarian soup. Please use as little cream as possible in the soups. Roadies get bloated and become colicky when they’ve inhaled too much Cream of Cauliflower.”
•   “PASTA/ITALIAN FOOD DISHES: As the boys in the hood say, “Bring your ‘A’ game.” Italian food has to be decent. Olive Garden should not outshine your food. Pasta is not noodles in dishwater. Let’s be wowed. A pasta bar with a clean, sober chef making the entree makes the roadies feel less like 5th grade lunch kids and more like actual civilians on a cruise ship (you can skip the ice sculptures, Rodin).”
•    The hospitality room request list included such gems as: “6 Rich guy coconut waters with extra priviledge (in cardboard cartons)” “18 Cans of Red Bull Energy Drink” “0 Cans of Tiger Blood” “108 Large Bath Towels- if they are new and unwashed, you will receive a wedgie.”

4: Katy Perry

Apparently decor ranks high on Katy Perry’s list of priorities. Additionally, she has high expectations when it comes to flowers. Future Perry suitors, take note. Below is an abbreviated list of her dressing room must-haves:
•    “Two (2) comfortable arm chairs- egg chairs, one with footstool, in cream
•    One (1) coffee table- Perspex modern style
•    Two (2) floor lamps- French ornate style
•    One (1) refrigerator with glass door
•    Arrangement of fresh flowers- consisting pink. White and purple hydrangeas, pink & white roses and peonies. OR if the above is not available selection of seasonal white flowers to include orchids- ABSOLUTELY NO CARNATIONS.”

5: Adele

We have to give kudos to Adele for including such a selfless requirement in the rider from her 21 tour:

“All guests at all Adele shows will be asked for a minimum donation to charity of $20.00 per person, in cash when they collect their tickets. There will be no exception to this rule.

North American beer doesn’t fly with Adele. Photo courtesy of Flickr user marinmatamoros.

We will also expect that all guests of the Promoter and/or Venue to also make the same donation when collecting their tickets….
At Adele’s personal request, all money collected will be donated to “SANDS” www.uk-sands.org
This is a charity dedicated to “supporting anyone affected by the death of a baby and promoting research to reduce the loss of babies’ lives”

The singer does, however, squeeze in a few requests to benefit herself including:

  • “1x Pack Marlboro Lights plus 1x disposable cigarette lighter”
  • “1x Small plate of assorted freshly made, individually wrapped sandwiches, to include chicken salad. Sandwiches must NOT contain tomatoes, vinegar, chilli or citrus fruit”
  • “1x selection of various “bite-size” chocolate bars (ie Twix, Aero, Milky Way, Mars, etc.)”
  • “1 x Bottle very best quality red wine (Italian, French, Spanish or Australian)”
  • “12x selection of bottles of best quality European lager beer. ie Becks, Stella Artois, Peroni etc. North American beer is NOT acceptable.