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.