David Lee Roth had his reasons

Pax Arcana

david-lee-rothIn the early 1980s, while Malcolm Jamal Warner was busy making the children of the world cooler, Van Halen was making a reputation for itself as the world’s leader in jackass tour riders.

By now the sight of a superstar band demanding preposterous concessions while on tour is a familiar one. But it all began in 1981 when Van Halen insisted that they be served M&Ms with all the brown ones picked out. The penalty for discovering a single brown M&M was a complete cancellation of the show.

Van Halen’s demand earned them a reputation for petulance. But according to Snopes.com (via Boing Boing), David Lee Roth actually had a good reason for it. Because the Van Halen show required more equipment and technical infrastructure than most venues were used to, the band used the M&M clause to ensure that the venue had done its due diligence. From Roth’s autobiography:

The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function. So just as a little test, in the technical aspect of the rider, it would say “Article 148: There will be fifteen amperage voltage sockets at twenty foot spaces, evenly, providing nineteen amperes … ” And article 126, in the middle of nowhere, was: “There will be no brown M&Ms in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.”

So when I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl … well, line check the entire production. Guaranteed you’re going to find a technical error. They didn’t read the contract. Guaranteed you’d run into a problem. Sometimes it would threaten to destroy just the whole show. Something like, literally, life-threatening.

In a sad, ironic twist, David Lee Roth’s career was finally killed by a brown M&M. In Roth’s defense, I don’t know why the brown one had to hog the spotlight at Skylar’s 8th birthday party. The yellow one that does the jumping splits has all the talent.

Van Halen had good reason to ban brown M&Ms in their concert rider [Boing Boing]


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