According to Wikipedia, a rider is a set of requests or demands that a performer sets as criteria for performance, which are typically fulfilled by the hosting venue. More specifically, a hospitality rider is a list of requests for the comfort of the artist on the day of the show. Common requests include:
- Specific foods and beverages (typically water, but sometimes alcoholic beverages)
- Fresh towels
- Transportation and hotels
- A runner (a person or persons hired to act as a personal shopper/driver for band and crew needs)
- A number of complimentary (“comp”) tickets or guest lists (free tickets for friends and family)
- Security personnel and/or locking rooms
- Access to a private bathroom and/or shower
The above all seem like reasonable requests, but some performers go way beyond such requests, and to me are a sign of their sense of superiority. Isn’t it enough to be well compensated and have millions of adoring fans?
Apparently not for the following performers, as evidenced by what they have requested in their riders:
- Mick Jagger asks for a new mattress in his room, no matter how posh the hotel. But he insists the plastic wrapping stays on while someone sleeps for one night on the mattress to break it in. He also once asked for a 36-meter-long air-conditioned running track at a concert in the California desert.
- For Adele, it was very important that she receive one pack of Marlboro Lights and a lighter, and 12 bottles of European lager.
- Justin Bieber’s riders include 10 luxury Sedans, a massage table, and a private jet on standby for any of his travel desires. He also requests an “Indian yoga casket”, a jacuzzi, and meals named after his own songs.
- Beyoncé likes the temperature in her dressing room to be set to 78 degrees at all times. Actually, this one doesn’t bother me; I like a warm room as well. Also, no Coke products, since she has a contract with Pepsi.
- Christina Aguilera really hates traffic, so to bypass any on her way to a venue, she requests a police escort, adding that under no circumstances are the vehicles to be allowed to encounter any delays due to traffic.
- Taylor Swift loves her Starbucks so much that her very specific order has to be delivered to her before 11 a.m. The order includes 1 Grande ICED Caramel Latte with 2 Sweet-N-Lows, 1 Grande ICED Americano with 2 Sweet-N-Lows and soy milk, and 1 slice of Pumpkin loaf.
- After her breakup with Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez had declared no one she worked with could go by the name “Justin.” Apparently, quite a few crew members had the name and therefore were given different monikers during her time of mourning.
- Justin Timberlake requires someone to disinfect the doorknobs of any backstage venue or hotel he’s in every two hours. On top of that, it’s necessary for him to have the elevator to himself and an entire floor of a hotel.
- In his spring 2009 production rider, Jay-Z demanded that he have seven dressing rooms (one for every day of the week maybe?). He was also in need of some “good quality peanut butter” and “good quality jelly”. He has also requested a full-time cigar rolling assistant on-call.
- Mariah Carey needed a person whose sole purpose was to throw away her gum. She also requests 16-ounce bottles of Evian water only, unless the water is for tea, in which case the water must be Poland Spring, and Cristal champagne with bendy straws to drink it with.
- Joe Jonas wants 12 puppies.
- Britney Spears wanted some McDonald’s cheeseburgers…but hold the buns, as well as a framed picture of Princess Diana in her dressing room when she performed in London.
- Before Lindsay Lohan was to appear on a Russian talk show, Lohan sent a list of demands, one of which included meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin. She also requested she be given a one-year visa, private jet, and $650,000 for her appearance on the show.
Mary J. Blige needs her own private toilet, complete with a new seat.
- Madonna wants accommodations for her 200-person entourage, and she wants her backstage room resembling her own personal home, with flower-scented fabric furniture. She also asks for 20 international phone lines in her dressing room.
- Eminem requests 6 Lunchables—3 turkeys and 3 hams. He must also have a love for Diet Coke, because he needed 24 cans and 24 plastic bottles of it. He also asks for Light N’ Fit yogurt and 25-pound dumbbells. But he also needs a koi pond to look at.
- Ne-Yo requested a bottle of vodka, but for the sole purpose of using it to clean things.
- Cher requires one separate room for all her wigs.
- Whitney Houston requested that she be transported in an “armored” Mercedes Benz or BMW 740.
- One Direction wants a fridge stocked with beer at all times, lots of KFC, a ping-pong table, and soft toilet paper.
- Marilyn Manson has a surprisingly simple set of requests: gummy bears, Doritos, 2 percent milk, Manwich, and microwave popcorn.
- Katy Perry has a very specific code of conduct for drivers, which includes not talking to or even looking at the singer. She also demands that there be no carnations in her room.
- Drake requests two specific brands of body care items: Nivea chapstick and Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap.
- Mötley Crüe’s rider asked for local AA meeting schedules, a sub-machine gun, a 12-foot boa constrictor and a jar of Grey Poupon mustard
- Lil Wayne demands a police escort and a presidential suite
- Snoop Dog wants Hubba Bubba bubblegum but watermelon flavor only
- Kanye West has asked that his dressing room carpet be ironed.
There are some requests seem reasonable:
- Many of Paul McCartney’s requests have to do with his vegan lifestyle, so no furniture backstage made from animal skin (leather) nor is faux leather or animal prints allowed.
- Ed Sheeran’s Glastonbury 2017 tour rider included Robinsons Squash, a six-pack of Coca-Cola, a six-pack of Diet Coke, a six-pack of Fanta Orange, a six-pack of Sprite and a jar of Manuka Honey. The total cost amounts to less than £60!
And some requests seemed to just poke fun at the idea of these riders:
- Iggy Pop’s 2006 tour rider was 18 pages, but it clearly wasn’t taking itself too seriously. Some of his requests included “somebody dressed as Bob Hope” and “a copy of ‘USA Today’ that’s got a story about morbidly obese people in it.”
- Foo Fighters have taken joke tour riders to another level. In 2011, their tour rider had a coloring book theme complete with a word search and a maze. It also included a list of non-permitted items in the venue which included “light sabers” and “garden gnomes.” Other requests have included a ban on wallet chains and tridents.
And perhaps one of the most famous riders was that for Van Halen, who requested lots of M&Ms, but no brown ones. While many people thought it was just another sign of the excess associated with riders, but David Lee Roth claims that if he saw brown M&Ms on the catering table, then he had to assume that the promoter had not read the contract rider, and they would have to be careful about some of their more serious requests, such as the care given to their sound and lighting equipment.
I wish more performers would either just accept the standard rider offerings, or have some fun with it. Otherwise, these outrageous demands cast them in a different light to me.
But reading about all of these demands got me thinking. When I get my next contract, I am going to demand that Villanova provide me with an acai bowl at 8:00 a.m, a cup of Dunkin decaf at 1:00 pm along with a toasted multi-grain bagel with peanut butter, and a Guinness at 5:00 pm every day.
*image from NPR