A rider is a stipulation which can be added to any kind of contract. It simply specifies that the parties involved agree to certain conditions. It is quite a common occurrence, but it has become famous mostly to the rider contracts of celebrities. These refer to the provisions they expect at a gig in order to perform. While many of them are reasonable (usually involving food, drinks, fresh change of clothes etc.) some of them can be pretty out there (like the celebs themselves).
1. Van Halen
This is definitely the most famous rider contract story so we might as well go through it first. During the 80s when Van Halen was incredibly popular and touring all over the world, they had a rider contract which seemed pretty standard: a lot of alcohol, juice, doughnuts, milk etc. Then there was one requirement which, although easy to fulfill, was very unusual: a large bowl of M&Ms with absolutely no brown ones.
This odd demand can be put down to a quirk on behalf of a rock band (by their standards, it’s actually pretty tame) but, as it turned out, there was actually a plausible and quite clever story behind this peculiar choice as told by David Lee Roth himself.. Van Halen’s show involved a lot of moving parts: massive sound and lighting systems, pyrotechnics, riggings etc. The M&Ms worked as a test to see how much attention the promoters gave to the concert. If something as trivial as sorting and removing brown candies was looked over, the band and the crew would know to be more cautious regarding the more important stuff.
2. J. Lo
To find out that Jennifer Lopez is a high-maintenance diva will hardly be a revelation to most people. However, one particular instance involving her rider contract has become quite notorious. For this particular gig, she demanded a completely all-white room filled with couches, tables, drapes, candles and flowers…all in white.
She also wanted a 45 ft trailer with triple slide outs and 2 entry doors. If one was not available, the minimum she would accept was a 40 ft one. Furthermore, J. Lo needed a lavish spread of fruits and various desserts, as well as an assortment of beverages. This is her regular tour rider (which can be seen in full here) but, on this occasion, she wanted it for a quick 1-hour cameo in a music single. The kicker? It was a charity single to combat AIDS in Africa.
3. Iggy Pop
Over the decades, Iggy Pop gained a reputation for having the most ridiculous rider contract in the business. The catch was that this was done on purpose and Iggy was just having a laugh instead of actually demanding all of his requirements be met in order to perform. His riders usually change from tour to tour, but there are some basic amenities which are included in every one. Among them is the need for a Bob Hope impersonator backstage, as well as a copy of USA Today with a story about obese people.
His latest rider contract comes from his 2012 tour. Written by his stage manager Jos Grain, the rider can be viewed here in all of its hilarity (all 28 pages of it). It is clear that Iggy values backstage entertainment more than anything else. Besides a Bob Hope impersonator, his demands now also include seven dwarves dressed like the dwarves in that “marvelous Walt Disney film”. Of course, Iggy does not discriminate and shows that he is flexible if dwarves are not available: “taller people are also acceptable, of course. It’s attitude, more than altitude that’s important here”.
4. Foo Fighters
The internet already loves Dave Grohl. Just in case you needed another reason for it, learn that the Foo Fighters decided to steal the title of “Best rider contract” from Iggy Pop…and they pretty much succeeded. Their 2011 tour contract is pure brilliance. It’s a whopping 52 pages long and it contains more jokes and pop culture references that you can imagine.
In order to keep it from being too dry, the rider contains a 10-page coloring book in the middle detailing the culinary preferences of the band and the crew (which you can see here). For those who aren’t artistically inclined, it also has other fun activities such as a wordsearch game and a maze.
Bonus Fact: There are plenty of other quirky demands that don’t really require a full entry. These include: Luciano Pavarotti – no strange odors or noises backstage; Cher – a special room for her wigs; Meat Loaf – ensuring that his name is always spelled Meat Loaf (two words); Dustin Diamond – absolutely no mention of Screech from “Saved by the Bell”.