Alibi V.16 No.35 • Aug 30-Sept 5, 2007 

Pop Culture

Read Carefully Before Signing

Contract riders that take you for a ride

Jeremy Eaton

Which came first, the diva or the rider?

A rider is a clause tacked onto a contract that lists additional requirements that must be met in order for the rest of the contract to be fulfilled. These additional requirements can include anything from basic accommodations and stage setup to more outlandish requests.

Keep in mind that these requirements are in addition to the fee paid for the performance and can cost in the several thousands of dollars—and be a pain to fulfill.

Van Halen was the first act to bring attention to riders when they stipulated that a bowl of M&Ms, minus the brown ones, be present in their dressing room. This strange request was used as a litmus test to see if the event organizer had read the contract in its entirety. A few brown M&Ms could mean that other sections of the contract had been disregarded.

Odd and unreasonable requests now seem to be the rule rather than the exception. One might get the idea that famous folk are such a delicate breed that their muses will cease all communication if the wrong brand of bottled water or malt liquor is not at their fingertips for an evening or two.

Consider Billy Idol. His hospitality rider states that “… all want health foods (no processed meats, soild [sic] tuna, Ect, [sic])” but then goes on to require sausage, bacon, hot dogs and cold cuts. Add to that Doritos and loads of booze, and you’ve got the makings of a very healthy, processed-meat free meal.

Jennifer Lopez may have a deep-rooted sense of compassion for the less fortunate, being from the block and all, but even when making appearances for charities she needs a white dressing room with white couches, white drapes, white flowers, white candles and white tablecloths. She has needs, too, you know.

Ted Nugent likes “man-sized Kleenex” while Cher simply prefers cube-shaped boxes for her tissue—with aloe.

Ozzy needs a doctor on site to administer B-12 and Decadron shots to help him stave off the grim reaper.

DMX requires a gallon-sized bottle of Hennessy and no less than three boxes of condoms. Three boxes for one night? X gonna give it to ya, but don’t worry, it’ll only take a minute.

The list goes on and on.

The rider for the newly reunited Iggy and the Stooges, while lengthy at 18 pages, is rather entertaining. Written by a witty roadie, the requests are often accompanied by stories, bad jokes and murderous threats. Besides asking for a Bob Hope impersonator (“Oh God, I wish I’d been alive in those days, so Bob Hope could have come and entertained me before I went off and got shot.”) and broccoli thrown immediately into a garbage can, the rider reveals that the band is not adverse to eating endangered species and is generally easily pleased. The roadie does try to slide in a request for a BMX K1200RS SE motorbike but realizes the unlikelihood of it being granted. As an added bonus, page 18 is the writer’s suggestion for a reality TV show called “Dead Dog Island” that involves contestants eating their favorite breed of dog on “some romantic tropical island somewhere, so it would be all very visual and make really super telly.”

As for the next time I agree to show up to work I would like to have the following: Four pairs of tube socks for sock-puppet making, three-bean salad with kidney, lima, green and garbanzo beans, 12 snack-sized bags of Cool Ranch Doritos (with excess seasoning brushed off), one case of imported beer served with bendy straws and a spiritual leader of any denomination except Pentecostal.

Sounds reasonable to me.