Everyone likes to be comfortable. I mean, we all need that special bottle of something that’s only manufactured in a certain part of the world, that something you just can’t find in any corner 7-Eleven. Don’t fret, if you’re an A-list touring musician (or someone to bank on) you’ll get it (yes, even if you’re the bassist). Just ask. If ‘they’ really want to keep the peace, they’ll fill your stocking with anything your heart desires. And, hey, if you want to test the limits… just throw out some requests that may seem incredibly outlandish (to pretty much everyone else) and see what happens. Oila! You, too, may get that bright red Radio Flyer packed with ice and a beer only found in the heart of Iceland.
Okay, yeah, some tour riders are pretty basic and some are a tales of unnecessary excess, stretching the bounds of reasons. Some, as we’ll discover, are cheeky winks to the machine of the very industry artists play in. Some are a case of necessity, keeping promoters on their toes.
First off, let’s get that infamous Van Halen tour rider out of the way. You know the one, don’t you? The one that specifically requested M&M’s minus the brown ones. We’re talking a mammoth rider, one that included a whole array of the usual eats for both band and crew. Now, call them crazy, but Eddie and the boys were playing it wise when they made that M&M’s call. You see, food stuff and perks aside, that particular Van Halen show (like most Van Halen shows - mostly the ones with Roth) was full to the brim with pyrotechnics and things that aren’t exactly safe if not treated with expert care. And when your life may be on the line for the sake of making a musical living, you have to be careful. The absence of brown M&M’s was some guarantee that promoters had read the entire rider and, with that, were being meticulous. Soon though, the Van Halen rider became the stuff of legend. What was a creative test of OH&S exploded, perhaps opening the door for non-OH&S excess. Yes, they definitely weren’t the first, but they sorta created the line to live by.
Alright, all buckled up? Let's hit the gas....
Not exactly mind-blowing stuff, but it’s nice to see the changes in an artist’s rider over tours (and years), a reflection of (ahem) lifestyle changes. Back in the 1990s, Prince was requesting Vitamin B-12 shots from the good show doc pre-performance. On his most recent tour to Australia it was an order for all things Merlot, water and a table for gifts to lay down their gifts. Kinda mature, really.
RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS:
With or without Dave Navarro? Okay, we’ll pinpoint the guys circa 2000 (with Frusciante). Nothing too wild. Just a nice meditation room (*prefer not blue) and an air conditioning system that had a specific function that bugs layman of all ages – an off switch. Yep, again, pretty standard fare.
IGGY & THE STOOGES:
Here's a creative nod to technical specifics. ‘The Marvelous and Most Instructive Information Document’ (as it was titled) is a fun little read of about 28 pages, surely composed to score a few laughs with those checking all the boxes. After all, the technical section is salivating stuff in terms of gear requested: A ‘sparkling DW drum kit’ including (verbatim) ‘1 x 24 inch BASS DRUM, or Kick Drum if you prefer to call it that. What’s that in centimetres? 66. 69 possibly? If you have a girlfriend, now is the time to ask where you keep the tape measure. If you have a boyfriend, he’s probably sitting on it.’ Not exactly crazy, just a lil' bit of humour to take the sting from all the tech-talk.
The tongue-in-cheek award goes to Slayer. These guys challenged promoters who, perhaps, weren’t taking their initial rider seriously. A follow-up request included a request for 100 snow-white goats and Halal butcher on standby. I’m guessing we’re talking about a little bonus notoriety for the fans out there. Another item included on the list were 4 Yoga Balls (all black). So, if you're Slayer and you're going to be actually announce a request for Yoga Balls.... you'd throw in 100 goats just to bolster up the crazy factor.
So, where are we at? Okay, we’re pretty much riding a line of requests that seem to be pretty reasonable. Requests of technical merit with some added humour (I think only the truly devoted would believe that Slayer’s goat request was met). Come on, really? What follows is a little dip into pushing things, just a little…. to meet personal tastes and all that jazz.
I’ll have that couch in any colour you got…. so long as it’s white. Oh, and the candles, too. White. And the drapes…. In fact, the whole room… make it white. Well, whatever gets you into the zone for the gig and all that. Mental atmosphere is important.
Tip the scales (why not, huh?). Depending on where you’re sitting in Motley Crue’s career, you’re either gonna get 'with or without alcohol'. And when it’s time to keep on the straight and narrow, a rider is not complete without a request for the closest AA meetings in any given town. Oh, that and a boa constrictor. Hell, you ain’t really anywhere unless you’ve got your pet snake… it's a given.
Apart from a whole slab of assorted vegetables, candy and mints, Mr. Reznor also very specifically (and importantly) requested corn starch. In a world full of practical uses for corn starch, one can spend an hour or so thinking about the use Mr. Reznor had in mind (greasy hair?).
Circa 2009, it was Maybach all the way for Jay-Z. Now that’s the sort of taste that gets car hire companies scrambling, calling in favours from all over town. ‘A Maybach? We’ve got top shelf Merc’s and a few BMW’s…. a Maybach? Um, yeah… suuuuure, just give me ten minutes and we’ll get a Maybach!’ What’s wrong with a Crown Vic? Oh, and keep the fridge stocked with Armand De Brignac... (RRP AUD is about 550 bucks a pop).
Let's see... we've got some eats at the ready for Buddy Guy.... and for you, Mr. King? Nothing. Yep, that was the go for the man himself post show - nothing. The award for awesomeness goes to THE B.B. King.
Anyway, that's a short list of riders to wet the appetite. More to come.
Written by D.L. Bugeja