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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Artist Riders: From boring to hilarious, and please - no brown M&M's.

Since this is a "Backstage Pass" themed blog, and a food-themed blog at that, I thought it appropriate to rap a little bit on the wonderful world that I work in: the entertainment industry.
When a musician comes to perform at our venues, they send us a document called a "performance rider." This includes stage and equipment specifications, contacts for the tour, and information about what kind of food and drinks they'd like to have in their dressing rooms and backstage.
Now, I will not be writing about any personal experiences I've had - sorry, this would break my confidentiality agreement - however it's possible to view real artist riders online. I love TheSmokingGun.com for its hilarious articles about celebs... another fun feature on the site is their compilation of artist riders, aptly titled "Backstage Pass."
Disclaimer: None of the artists featured in this post have appeared at any of my venues :-)
Here are a few highlights that I found:
Will Ferrell:
While promoting his movie "Semi-Pro," Will included the following requirements on his hospitality rider (found here on TheSmokingGun.com):
Stage:
- One (1) headset microphone (Janet Jackson style)
- One (1) electric mobility scooter
- One (1) rainbow on wheels
Hilarious!
Backstage:
- Raw almonds (kinda boring but at least he's into healthy snacks)
Lady Gaga: 
I just love Lady Gaga, and had to check out her required items. The items are pretty healthy but boring, dried mangoes and roasted chicken and whatnot, but I find humor in the large note across the top: NOTE: THE HONEY IS VERY IMPORTANT.
Wayne Newton:
This guy is, in my opinion, an American treasure. Why is it that Mr. Vegas asks for a cold deli tray and some lame carnations? Coors Lite, really? Can't this guy get a fancy steak dinner and long-stemmed roses? Danke Shoen, my foot.
My two cents about artist riders is that some promoters do not pay enough attention to them, and they often stiff the artist on their requirements. Famously, Van Halen's brown M&M story illustrates this discrepancy. The band didn't really need for the brown M&M's to be removed from the bowl in the dressing room, but had it on the rider to make sure the promoter was paying close enough attention to all items listed. Chances are, if they got to a venue and lo and behold, brown M&M's were in the bowl... a more important detail may have also been overlooked, perhaps on a larger scale like rigging, lighting or sound. The whole story is here on Snopes.com along with snippets from David Lee Roth's autobiography. NPR's Monkey See Blog has a story and some links here, as well.
Let's hear from you - leave some comments, please!
What items would you demand as a rock star?
Have you heard any crazy stories of artist demands?

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