The rider is always a measure of how much of a rock star you truly are and the most significant test of rock ‘n’ roll credentials. While some will opt for a pre-match meal of room temperature water and kale salad before storming the stage, others get their fuel in a less nutritious manner.
When you’re on tour, having fun with your rider requests is a quintessential part of life-on-the-road. Knowing that somebody is working at the venue, whose job is to find whatever bizarre items you have written down on your rider request, can make artists drunk on power and challenge themselves to see how absurd they can make their requests.
Sometimes the request’s aren’t even extravagant or expensive but are just downright odd and not what you’d expect world-famous artists to rely on as they trot around the globe.
A rider gives fans a glimpse into what some superstar artists are like when they are off-stage, and on occasion, it’s as glamourous or hedonistic as you’d expect. However, a few earth-shatteringly humbling omissions from artists act as a reminder that they are very much human.
Let’s take a look at the wildest then, shall we?
The 10 craziest rider requests:
Kanye West has previous for wild rider antics, having in the past demanded that there was a Barber’s chair in his dressing room before a show, and even for a slushy machine on his Saint Pablo tour. However, his slushy machine had a twist; it wasn’t the innocuous ‘red’ or ‘blue’ flavour that the superstar rapper wanted. Instead, he wanted one half of the machine to be a mix of Hennessy and Cola, with the other side providing a concoction of Grey Goose and lemonade.
Other requests that West allegedly included: “One tub plain yoghurt for dipping, four small Yoplait yoghurt, One bowl of assorted nuts, one bowl of Sunkist Salted Pistachio nuts (no red colouring)”. Apparently, he also asked for plenty of alcohol to wash down his snacks, with Heineken, Patron, Vodka, and Hennessy all on his list.
When you’re a Beatle, you can pretty much get away with asking whatever you want on your rider. Paul McCartney hasn’t walked into a room without somebody falling weak at knees in over half a century, and he’s grown accustomed to people fawning over him.
On his 2002 tour, McCartney is said to have asked for all the lamps to be halogen floor lamps with a dimmer switch, only animal-free materials, and no trace of animal prints or skin to feature on the furniture. The former Beatle even wanted the whole place to be dry-cleaned a day before his arrival.
Considering Eminem is one of the biggest stars on the planet, you’d never guess so from his rider, and the beauty comes from the absolute mundane nature of it. His list comes from his festival appearances in 2010. The most extravagant request is Shady’s demand for any brand of water apart from Evian, which for some reason is where he draws the line.
Elsewhere on the list is bucket-loads of Red Bull and Diet Coke, but it looks like Eminem opts for a pre-set sandwich for food. Two loaves of white bread he requests, along with ham, turkey, mayonnaise, jalapenos, mustard and anything else you’d find at ease in any supermarket in America. However, the most bizarre inclusion on the list is six branded Lunchables, precisely three turkey and three ham. Picturing Eminem eating Lunchables before tearing up a festival is a sight to behold.
Jack White’s rider hit the headlines when he explicitly demanded that it’s a ‘No Banana Tour’. At first, this looked like a diva demand and White was forced to address it publicly and explain that one of the touring crew had an allergy to bananas.
On his 2015 ‘No Banana Tour’, White requested the venues for a dozen wings, guacamole, hummus and pita chips, as well as an array of wine glasses and champagne flutes. Surprisingly, however, he doesn’t ask for the alcohol itself, suggesting a thrifty White is stopping off for booze before arriving at the venue. The singer then bizarrely asked for an iPod ‘with sufficient volume control’ in 2015(!) and no fluorescent lights.
The Stooges man had a separate rider from the rest of the band during a tour in the 2000s. We’d love to know how many venues managed to fulfil his next wish: “Somebody dressed as Bob Hope doing fantastic Bob Hope impersonations and telling all those hilarious Bob Hope jokes about golf and Hollywood and Bing Crosby.”
He also needed to make sure to have no alcohol shortages before the show, which he wasn’t as precise about, unlike his earlier requests: “six bottles of Grolsch or decent local beer. Ten 16oz plastic cups and four glass wine glasses and a corkscrew to open wine bottles. Two bottles of smooth, full-bodied, Bordeaux type red wine. Probably French,” it reads.
The tongue-in-cheek patter continues, “And something we’ve heard of, but still can’t pronounce. Look, there’s fucking loads of good red wines. Ask the man in the wine shop. Or here’s a number of suggestions: First choice – a Medoc, St. Emilion, Pamerol, or Pauillac, years ’86, ’89, ’90 or second choice – a Barolo or Barbaresco ’89 or ’90. Four large, clean towels.”
Van Halen proved to be masters of taking the piss with their infamous request for ‘no brown M&Ms’. The reason for the band asking for no brown M&Ms in the backstage area was because they hid a clause in their contract, which meant that the promoter would forfeit the entire show at full price if any brown M&Ms were in the vicinity.
David Roth explained in 2012: “If I came backstage, having been one of the architects of this lighting and staging design, and I saw brown M&Ms on the catering table, then I guarantee the promoter had not read the contract rider, and we would have to do a serious line check.”
Grace Jones left no stone unturned in her book, I’ll Never Write My Memoirs, and her rider is as wild as you’d expect. Her list included “six bottles of Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne, three bottles of French Vintage red wine (e.g. St Emilion, Medoc, Bordeaux), three bottles of French Vintage white wine (e.g. Sancerre, Pouilly Fuisse)”.
Most remarkably, Jones asked for “two Dozen Findeclare or Colchester Oysters on ice (unopened)”, and the request confirms that, “Grace does her own shucking.)” There was also a sushi platter, bunches of flowers and a ton more strange requests, including an Oyster knife.
When Prince arrived in the UK in 2014 for his Hit and Run tour, when he appeared at a range of intimate venues across the country, his rider leaked, and it’s exactly as crazy as you’d expect from The Purple One. He allegedly requested ‘no stairs’ at every hotel he stayed at throughout his stay in the UK.
The ‘no stairs’ rile isn’t the only strange request that Prince made during his visits to Britain. When he took over the O2 Arena for a 21-date residency in 2007, he even hoped to build a five-bedroom house by the London venue, which sadly never happened. In 2011, it is said that he even demanded to be chauffeured in a limo between his dressing room and the stage at Kent’s Hop Farm Festival.
Even when Ol’ Blue Eyes entered his latter days, he didn’t wind it down, as this rider from a 1991 show in Ohio proves. He asked the venue for a mammoth 37 items on his rider, including an upright piano and 12 rolls of cherry lifesavers.
However, Sinatra’s most wild request was a full backstage bar that he asked to be stocked with Absolut, Jack Daniels, Chivas Regal scotch, and Beefeater gin, white wine, red wine, and Courvoisier.
If you expected Jay-Z to opt for a list as simple as Eminem’s then you’d be way off the mark. Having just one dressing room isn’t enough for the superstar rapper. Neither is two, or three, or four. In fact, Jay-Z doesn’t settle for anything less than seven dressing rooms — which is nothing short of absurd.
On top of the seven dressing rooms, Jay-Z requested “good quality peanut butter”, “good quality grape jelly” and a “love seat”, which some poor member of staff at venues all over the world would have had to found somehow to accommodate the rapper.