I was bored at home the other night when I stumbled upon the Smoking Gun’s list of celebrity riders .(A rider is a contract that specifies a list of what amenities should be provided for the performer). The demands that some artists make on the staff at venues range from typical, easy to find comforts (booze, sandwiches, adult magazines) to the maddeningly trivial (special aged cheese, no leather). Some were simple (Guns N Roses, Eric Clapton) and others were very complex (50 Cent, Kiss, Paul McCartney).
As I glanced over these lists, I realized that there is no way I'd ever make it as an event coordinator. I'd probably just crumple up these lists and toss them in the garbage.
Complaints aside, here are some of the more amusing ones (Click to view the full document):
One container dried mangoes, one container of dried blueberries, aged cheese. What the hell? Eight (8) Ferro Rocher Gold Balls. Heaven forbid you provided MIA with six or seven.
48 Cold Strong Continental Lagers (Becks or equivalent, Not Stella, Not US Beers). Ugh, snobs
8 packs of sugar-free gum; 20 lint free clean backstage towels; 40 lint free backstage towels.
50’s rider demands that you not only provide dinner, but breakfast and lunch as well. And while his demands for Cuban cigars are somewhat reasonable, it’s actually against the law to obtain them.
U2 (1992 ZOO TV Tour)
Sadly, the entire rider is not posted. Thankfully someone was able to get a copy of the most important page: ALCOHOL REQUIREMENTS. Good to know that Bono and co. still know how to bro down after a show.
I understand that a good number of the demands for food and drink are somewhat reasonable. Just like how every employee of X office deserves health-care, sick days and the occasional promotion, a touring musician should be allowed certain comforts to make them feel at home when he/she is on the road.
However, I do believe that most riders tend to be incredibly wasteful. There’s no doubt in my mind that a sizeable percentage of the food, drinks and supplies that are provided backstage are thrown away. And while I wholeheartedly understand the need for towels after shows, why on earth do the Killers need forty towels? If your band has 4 people, that’s 10 towels per person. Who the fuck sweats so much that he needs 10 towels to dry off?
And as pointed out in the Sonic Youth biography "Goodbye 20th Century," expansive tour riders take money out of the artist's tour earnings. Despite the fact that Sonic Youth were on Geffen Records for a little more than a decade, they rarely asked for more than some light food and drink, maybe a bottle of hard alcohol here or there. In the end, the band continues to turn a profit while on tour, and even managed to finance their own studio. Then again, Sonic Youth and many other bands I admire come from the punk rock school of thought.
But it's something to think about. All that food and drink is coming out of your pocket! Spend wisely.
For the Smoking Gun's full list of backstage riders, click HERE