Musicians and artists can be quirky, and some are famous for making absurd demands – because they can. Among the seemingly quirkiest: Van Halen (in the David Lee Roth days), who demanded that a bowl of M&Ms candies be available backstage, with all of the brown ones removed and there’s actually a brilliant reason for it, according to Insider.
The demand was buried in the rider to the performance contract – a rider that was roughly the size of the Manhattan phone book, and the M&Ms provision was placed inconspicuously within the document to ensure that the promoters actually read it. It primarily included technical specifications to do with lighting, staging, necessary infrastructure, security, etc.
There’s Always A Reason
Van Halen had a mammoth stage act, or as Diamond Dave explained, “At the time, it was the biggest production ever”…In many cases, the venues were too outdated or inadequately prepared to set up the band’s sophisticated stage,” and very specific technical needs had to be met to ensure that no one on either side of the stage got hurt due to a lack of attention to detail. If all of the provisions were not met, Van Halen had the right to keep all of the proceeds from the concert, which often totaled in the millions. Their litmus test? The brown M&Ms. If they spotted brown M&Ms, they knew that, chances were, the rider had not been fully read, much less adhered to, and the band would need to do a serious line check. Here’s the Diamond Dave interview that explains what proved to be a shrewd business move – and safety test.