10 Tour Riders Crazier Than Jack White’s

10 Tour Riders Crazier Than Jack White’s

There was a time when being a star meant getting away with whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted. Tales of trashing hotel rooms just for fun, drinking, smoking, and snorting everything in sight, lines of groupies waiting outside tour busses, and even, in some unfortunate cases, taking part in sexual activities that are at best in poor taste and at worst illegal, used to be one of the most exciting things that came with fame. But as times have changed and attitudes toward abuse of substances and cleaning crews alike have shifted, there simply aren’t too many extreme indulgences that your typical rock star or pop diva can get away with anymore. Throw a TV out a window? Someone on the maintenance crew tweets about it and there’s a hashtag calling you an asshole before you even end up on TMZ. So what is a poor rock star to do? If your fans won’t let you get away with shenanigans, where do you turn?

Enter the tour rider. On its face, a tour rider is a pretty boring document. It sets the terms of the night of the performance for the star and the venue. Things like speaker and lighting details, what security is required, how many dressing rooms and what should be in them, and meal details are the usual type of things covered in an artist’s rider. But somewhere along the way, artists began using the rider to make requests beyond these mundane details. Whether it’s socks and underwear, wanting everything in your dressing room to be the same color, or demanding a specific brand of bottled water served at a specific temperature out of specific drinkware, the tour rider is the last great hope for stars to get themselves treated like royalty.

Last week Jack White’s tour rider was published, and it took specific food requests to an all new level with an included guacamole recipe that is detailed enough to explain what to do with the avocado pits. White and his management company are pissed at the leak, but the truth is, as silly as his guac needs may seem, he’s actually in pretty good company when it comes to extreme requests. Let’s look at 10 tour riders that are crazier than Jack White’s.


10. deadmau5

House music superstar deadmau5 has a rider full of modest requests for food, such as candy, nuts, string cheese, and fresh fruit and veggies. Of course, the ubiquitous beer, vodka, and cans of Redbull make an appearance as well to wash it all down. Things get a little more diverse in the "other" section, though, where he requests Marlboro lights and a lighter, two pairs of size 9 socks (one black and one white, natch), two bottles of shower gel, and, for reasons we can only guess at, one inflatable animal of at least 5' in height and fully inflated. I guess if you're a solo performer with no bandmates with which to party, and you don't want to party with the crew, what other choice do you have than to party with an inflatable animal? Maybe that's who the second bottle of shower gel is for too.

See the full rider here.


9. Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters make the list not for the ridiculousness of their requests, but rather for the goofy way in which they've made them. Foo Fighters have always seemed like good natured guys, so perhaps in order to ease the self-important tone of a document making as many specific requests as needed for a band and crew of this size, their rider is full of self-deprecating jokes, fart references, and nods to how preposterous tour riders can be. In addition to explaining that there are 18 vegetarians in the the touring party, venues are warned that meaty soups make the roadies fart. They specify cereal boxes should be new and unopened, not leftover "from last night's Dio show." Also, if you've ever wondered who the real "people person" in the band is, the rider tells us it's Nate Mendel, "not the guy from Nirvana."

Perhaps to butter up whatever poor schmuck is setting up the hospitality rooms, the rider tells us that if you're able to read it, you're already smarter than most of the band's crew. It goes on to say "just try to make things nice," and "as cozy as possible," but in case that's too up to interpretation, we find out their list is in fact "NON-NEGOTIABLE." Things get a little intense when it comes to plastic cups, where the band insists on 16 oz plastic Solo brand cups, and that the band "WILL CALL OUT A CATERING JIHAD" if the cups aren't there. And in a section subtitled "WOW ROCK STARS ASK FOR SOME STUPID CRAP!" we find such requests as 4 DVDS ("we are looking for HITs," no "Jamie Kennedy, Martin Lawrence, or sports"), 4 magazines ("Show us you have a brain and fantastic interests"), an assortment of t-shirts and socks, deodorant, and snack bars, all divided up by day of the week.

If it all seems too much, try to take a little pity on the band themselves. After all, as the rider explains, "WE ARE JUST ANOTHER BAND TRYING TO MAKE ENOUGH MONEY TO FUEL OUR PRIVATE JET. PLEASE HELP."

See the full rider here.


8. Gorgoroth

If you were expecting a Norwegian black metal band to have a rider full of scented candles and nutritionalist-approved herbal supplements, then Gorgoroth is going to disappoint. The band, whose satanic themes and live shows full of nude women on crucifixes and butcher-procured stage props have been shocking audiences for a coupl'a decades now, has mostly normal requests in the food and beverage section. Deli tray? Check. 70 domestic beers? Check. Jack Daniels, Kahlua, Finlandia, and Bombay Sapphire? Check, check, check, and check. However, once you get past the 4 packs of cigarettes, things get a little more interesting. Strawberry flavored condoms? Sure, why not. And who wouldn't enjoy extra-soft, pink toilet paper? You've got to pamper yourself sometimes, even if you're devoted to the Dark Lord. The band's show wouldn't be complete if they weren't provided with a "carpenter with equipments to build racks for barbwire, barricades, crosses etc." and, of course, 50 sheep heads and 200 meters of barbwire. Should be easy enough to find!

See the full rider here.


7. Bloodhound Gang

Of course The Bloodhound Gang are a kooky band, so it stands to reason that they'd have a kooky rider. They want to dissuade you of this assumption, as the first paragraph of the document insists "This is a serious document, and part of your contractual deal with the artist." It goes on to say "this has been very carefully thought out," and advises not to read their specific deli tray instructions and then provide "Any old meats that can be put on a plate." Fair enough. So what are the band's demands, then?

Most of the requests are pretty run-of-the-mill. Sandwich ingredients, sodas, pretzels and the like fill the bulk, though they do ask for a pound of butter, a quart of macaroni salad, and, in one of the more disturbing food requests I've seen, "One Jar with 6 Hot Dogs (Frankfurters)." A jar? Oof. It gets pretty specific further down when they request one large package of Skittles, separated by color to appease their obsessive-compulsive bassist. Things get particularly weird in the "Misc" section, where they ask for one refrigerator magnet of local interest, and one small Rhesus monkey skeleton. However, the comical band, who, remember, demands to be taken seriously at the beginning of the rider, parenthetically assures the reader that this is in fact the only non-serious item on the list. Thanks for explaining the joke you included on your serious document, you joke band that demands to be taken seriously!

See the full rider here.


6. Slayer

As thrash metal's most evil-obsessed representatives, Slayer's rider from the 2011 Fun Fun Fest reads about as you'd expect. Sure, Gorgoroth asked for 50 sheep heads, but Slayer ups the ante, requesting 100 snow-white goats for slaughter. Sensibly, though, they also request a Halal butcher to slaughter the goats, as well as freezer bags and coolers to preserve the goat until the band can get it home to slow-roast it for tacos (that'll be a shitload of tacos, but hey, evil dudes have evil appetites). And to ensure they don't get the blood on them during the slaughter, they'd like Totes brand "blood-proof" umbrellas. But lest you get the wrong impression about these guys, they go on to request yoga ball chairs (black, of course), a Lite-Brite for each band member, 10 cases of Gogurt, newsprint paper and "those markers that smell like cool stuff," and both hand sanitizer and hand satanizer. You can't be too careful! In case there was any question whether this part of the rider was a joke or not, they would also like two shoeboxes to hide their Grammy awards with special instructions to not write "Grammys" on the box. It's good to know you can write "Angel of Death" and still have a sense of humor.

See the full rider here.


5. Beach Boys

The Beach Boys are a legendary band of cranks and oddballs, so it's no surprise that their rider is full of persnickety requests and strange asides. First of all, perhaps to ensure their legendary status doesn't take a hit, they insist that no attendance figures can be reported anywhere except for in the event of a sold-out show, in which case attendance figures absolutely must be reported to anyone who will listen. Pretty smart, if you ask me. In a note about including recycling bins, they give thanks not just from The Beach Boys, but from the planet itself. Giving a voice to the voiceless! I like it. But then they request a whopping 48 large bath towels (just how many Beach Boys are there these days, anyway?). Maybe they're for the beach party later on? Beats me, but I'm guessing Mother Earth isn't too keen on the amount of water those towels take to launder.

Their "munchies" requests are pretty standard, though they get a little specific when it comes to the other supplies. Only VIVA brand paper towels will do, and they insist on Marlboro Lights in a soft pack with a child-safety-free lighter that absolutely cannot be green. A few cans of Copenhagen Long Cut dip that are no more than one week old round out the list.

In an effort to not appear like they belong simply to the grandpa set, they stipulate that no form of advertising, from posters and flyers to inflatables and beer "coolies" include the word "OLDIES." However, this attempt at seeming young is almost negated by the request for a bag of Werther's Originals and a 50-foot roll of Saran Wrap, presumably for leftovers, or perhaps to cover the furniture. As always, The Beach Boys remain an exercise in dualities.

See the full rider here.


4. Mary J. Blige

A clean and carpeted dressing room isn't such a strange request, nor is a private bathroom. But Mary J. Blige takes it a step farther when she adds that the toilet seat must be brand new. That's a new toilet seat for every tour stop! I wonder if the venues are allowed to leave the toilet seat on once she leaves, or if she has it destroyed once it's seen it's last use by her. Things get a little specific when it comes to hotel accommodations as well, where Blige, who up until this rider leaked checked in under the pseudonym Mrs. Jefferson, insists she not appear on any room number list, and that her room be in the most quiet area, on a non-smoking floor, and not on the same floor as the rest of her crew or touring party. The demand for quiet also includes that Blige be notified of any construction going on near the hotel, and that the housekeeping staff honor the "Do Not Disturb" signs, a point made with not one, but 26 exclamation points. They are not to knock to verify occupancy, or even vacuum nearby rooms, even though such noise might be drowned out by the two humidifiers also requested. Listen, there's a reason singers like Blige are referred to as divas, right?

See the full rider here.


3. Katy Perry

If Katy Perry's rider is any indication, you don't get hired to perform at the Super Bowl by being down-to-earth and easy going. Big stars who do big shows have big demands. While there's nothing too odd in her food and supplies requests, she's a stickler for a certain ambience, and to that effect requires her dressing room to be draped in either cream or soft pink, and loaded down with flowers, specifically white and purple hydrangeas, pink and white roses, and peonies. And if those aren't available, you boorish simpleton, then she guesses you can go with seasonal flowers that include white orchids. However, don't even think about using carnations, which she strictly forbids. The last thing she wants to see is carnations when she's relaxing on one of two required cream-colored egg chairs (only one footstool, though) and basking in the light of two French ornate style floor lamps. Also, how would she know what was inside her refrigerator unless it had a glass door? She wouldn't, obviously.

But none of this compares to the list of demands pertaining to her driver, who must not speak to or interact with Perry in any way. Likewise, the driver shouldn't really speak to anyone else either, so they can leave their cell phone turned off. And let's go ahead and cross talking to clients, guests, or fans off the list too. You know, maybe the driver just shouldn't talk at all. And instead of staring at Ms. Perry in the rearview mirror, the driver should keep his eyes on the road and watch out for pedestrians. She also insists the driver let security handle such tasks as door opening and luggage handling, and that staying behind the steering wheel is a must. The list goes on to include instructions about how fast to drive, which lane to stay in, and where to park.

One of the shiftiest sections of her rider, though, is a paragraph of very legal language that basically says if the venue uses ticket resellers (such as StubHub, the example included in the rider), that they should hold back a certain amount of tickets for those resellers and that Perry and her team will take the money made from their sale. In other words, if possible, Perry wants to scalp her own tickets at potentially inflated prices. Shame on you, Katy! What would the right shark think of that move? It's safe to assume the left shark wouldn't care, as he's not paying attention anyway.

See the full rider here.


2. Iggy Pop

Iggy Pop's 2006 tour rider for The Stooges set a new standard for being both entertaining and informative. Much like The Foo Fighters (who were no doubt inspired by Iggy here), Pop's rider is full of jokes and silliness. Describing the desired equipment, he requests one Korg digital rack tuner and explains "Digital in the sense that it works via an electronically generated number system, not digital because it only works if someone holds it together with their fingers." Furthermore, while describing the amplifiers, he wants them to have been tested recently, and that means more recently than "Sometime in the three weeks preceding the occasion when it fell 5 metres off the top shelf in the warehouse" after "that Insane Clown Pussy gig where they had the Piss On The Live Marshall Amplifier Competition." Reasonable enough! The drum requests get in on the fun too, with, for example, 2 heavy duty straight cymbal stands, but the rider notes the band are "equal opportunity employers, so gay stands may apply also." There are pages of these notes, along with tons of details about everything from the sound mix to light placement.

Pop wants his dressing room to look "less like a typical rock & roll dressing room and more sort of... Interesting?," and surely one way to achieve that is with a "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." As for booze, he'd like Grolsch beer and 2 bottles of red wine, preferably "something we've heard of but still can't pronounce." If that's not specific enough, he goes on to say "Look, there's fucking loads of good red wines. Ask the man in the wine shop."

Of course, that's just for Iggy, as Iggy gets his own room, natch. The Stooges' have their own requests, including crackers and dips, such as "Hummus and taramasalata. Today the world, tamarasalata." Perhaps the best moment in the entire 18 pages comes at the end of the beverage list, where, after quite a long list of alcohol requests, we get "Cauliflower/broccoli, cut into individual florets and thrown immediately into the garbage. I fucking hate that." Honestly, the whole rider is a hoot and worth reading for any Iggy Pop fan. There's even a page at the end that details a reality tv show idea he has called "Dead Dog Island," which wouldn't be done justice summarized here.

It's worth noting, too, that this is just the 2006 rider, and the 2012 rider for Iggy and the Stooges is just as ridiculous. The man has a sense of humor.

See the full rider here.


1. Van Halen

It's no surprise that Van Halen's 1982 tour rider tops this list, as it's been the rider to out-crazy pretty much ever since it was first released to the public. This was a time when Van Halen's star was rapidly rising, and they were soon to be just about the biggest name in rock music. The document breaks down meals by even and odd days, with multiple choices for each day, but things don't really get interesting until we get to the drink list. How does a band of wild rock stars party? With a shitload of booze, it turns out. Massive quantities of Budweiser, Schlitz Malt Liquor, Jack Daniels, Stolichnaya vodka, Southern Comfort, and white wine are requested. And, of course, in between two bars of soap and 3 packs of Marlboros, the band humbly requests one large tube of KY Jelly.

But none of that gets to what made the Van Halen rider an example of egomaniacal excess. When it comes to snacks, we get such requests as herring in sour cream, and, of course, M&M's with the legendary warning: "ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES." Many years later, frontman David Lee Roth claimed that the reasoning behind the M&M request wasn't one of pickiness, but of practicality. If they were served up a bowl of M&M's with no browns, they knew right away that the venue's team had closely read and paid attention to their requests. Browns in the bunch meant there could be any number of other items missed. But I think a much more logical explanation, and one that most fans are probably clinging to, is that when you're consuming as much booze and coke as Van Halen was in the early 80s, sometimes you just want some M&M's with no brown ones. It's that simple. And if by chance it also lands your band in every discussion of crazy tour rider requests until the end of music as we know it, well then that's all the better.

See the full rider here.

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