BACKSTAGE RIDER: Hall of Fame

Van Halen '82

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Van Halen 1982 Backstage Rider

Van Halen

Behold the Holy Grail.

Since we began publishing backstage concert riders about 10 years ago, TSG has been searching for 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. Well, as seen here, the hunt is over.

TSG has finally obtained the 1982 Van Halen World Tour rider--typewritten and 53 pages long--containing the M&M prohibition (and a few other unique demands). The document, which we've excerpted here, also stipulated that promoters provide the group with "herring in sour cream," four cases of "Schlitz Malt Liquor beer (16 ounce cans)," and a total of eight bottles of wine and liquor. Oh, and the band also needed "One (1) large tube KY Jelly."

The rider's "Munchies" section was where the group made its candy-with-a-caveat request: "M & M's (WARNING: ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES)." 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. (11 pages)

Comments (3)

In Dave's autobiography he stated the reason for the Brown M&M's. Venue staff were not reading the Riders, which lead to problems like the venue not having large enough doors to get the gear into the venue, and at one venue in the Carolinas (I think), VH's gear did massive damage to the basketball floor.
You printed a bunch of pages twice, you numb nuts!
The M&M's thing wasn't just to find out if the rider was read, Van Halen was a huge draw at the time, and that request usually got the caterer an extra worker. The promoters made a lot of money off of a Van Halen show, but still would try to short the needed crew. At meal time you want your crew to be served the meal quickly, they have a lot of work to do to make show time. And at show time you want everything ready for the performance. Any combination of water, beer, gatorade, tea, lemon, honey [the last 3 for singers] and towels so the band can relax and perform. As to if the promoter got the more important aspects of the rider, most of the ones you pointed out didn't matter. Van Halen traveled with their own P.A., lights, and staging and crew to set them up. The local crew would help Van Halen's techs set everything up. And the last thing about the claim, the rider would be copied and split up to those who needed each part. The caterer would get all the catering parts of the rider. The production manager has a buzy day making sure all the parts of the rider [and anything the band's production manager wants] pertaining to the performance are taken care of, and doesn't have time to oversee the caterer. The trucks start showing up early in the morning and get packed up by a few hours after the show so the trucks can drive to the next venue for an early morning load-in. There is barely time for meal breaks. Remember everything happens in one day, and you need travel time also. Any day you're not doing a show, you are paying for hotels, vehicles, gear and crew. If you fall behind schedule before the show the show will start late, then you get into paying a huge fine for overtime. If load-out goes long you might not make load-in the next day on time.

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