I’m excited about the glorious day that is to come. The day when you will hand your ticket to an attendant, find your way to your carefully selected seat, take in the flowery pre-show aroma, watch the bright lights fade to black, feel the energy of a sold-out auditorium cheering with anticipation and then behold the sound and feel the rumble in your chest as the first thunderous notes of the opening song blast at full volume. Concerts are coming back.
Longing for the live concert experience and thanks to a deep well of internet archives, I have been researching infamous backstage riders; that is, contractual agreements that artists and bands list in order for them to come and play your concert venue.
Some dressing room demands are ridiculous on the surface and many of them are just flat out bizarre. I always picture a team of concert venue staffers or interns having to pick through a giant bowl of M&Ms, removing the brown colored candy for the upcoming Van Halen show. This was a requirement in the 53-page rider for the band’s 1982 world tour.
Let’s look at a few more.
According to, “The Little Red Riders Book” by author Portico (released in 2008), Paul McCartney had a requirement of “nineteen leafy six-foot plants and four leafy four-foot plants along with complete vegetarian catering.” There is no description of what Sir Macca would do if the plant was only 5-feet, 10-inches tall.
Frank Sinatra would not play a venue unless an ear, nose and throat specialist was present, armed with the anti-inflammatory drug, Decadron. No doc, no Frank.
Beyoncé requires her dressing room area to be exactly 78 degrees — no more and no less. She wants Pepsi products only, boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios and a two-man love seat.
Barbra Streisand’s backstage instructions include “rose petals in toilet” which, ironically, is the same requirement Richard Whiting has in his private Index-Journal office bathroom. Who knew?
The late Aretha Franklin had an interesting caveat in her backstage rider. Promoters were required to provide the Queen of Soul with $25,000 in cold, hard cash. Folding money, if you will. Fat stacks. Franklin, who was afraid of flying, also stipulated that her hotel lodging could be no higher than the hotel’s fifth floor. No penthouse suite for the Queen.
The Rolling Stones have demanded a space for their own road snooker table backstage on tour for years and they always require satellite or cable television in their dressing room area tuned to a channel showing cricket matches. Mick Jagger also requires a private space for running, enclosed with pipe and drape.
Mariah Carey’s rider includes puppies, kittens, Cristal champagne and a box of bendy straws. Carey also requires “one special attendant to dispose of used chewing gum.” I don’t want to draw the bendy straw and get picked for that job. “Sure, spit your gum into my palm, Ms. Carey.” The singer also lists “two air purifiers and tea service for eight” on her list of demands.
Before the big breakup of the Gallagher brothers, the band Oasis always had interesting backstage requirements and they were clear in their pre and post show priorities. “Lots of Guinness, Lots of Beer, Lots of Red Wine, Lots of Vodka, A Bottle of Whiskey, Doritos and Dip” appear on their rider.
Elton John asks for 74 towels backstage and plenty of flowers. But, those flowers “must NOT include chrysanthemums, lilies, daisies or carnations.”
Finally, we have Jennifer Lopez. White flowers. White tablecloths. White curtains. White candles. Coffee to be stirred counterclockwise, and some skittles.