Backstage riders give us a glimpse into the weird and wonderful requirements from rock, pop and hip-hop’s greatest to make long tours most tolerable. I have picked his favourite requests.
Leaked riders give us a good insight into a small part of the life of a touring musician, and sometimes, these insights are indescribably bizarre. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, a rider is a document that specifies demands, (more like ideal requests), for the tour at venues, and the backstage rider specifically targets all things non-stage. It is in these backstage riders we get a glimpse into the weird and wonderful requirements from rock, pop and hip-hop’s greatest. I can’t personally vouch for the authenticity of these (I’ve collected these from various sources, mostly The Smoking Gun), but I can absolutely vouch that it’s hilarious all the same!
Frontman of The Killers had a relatively regular rider for his solo Flamingo tour, but there is one element that caught my attention. Hidden inside the list of food requirements is a request for certain jams, on certain days of the week. It turns out that Mondays and Thursdays are for apricot jam, Tuesdays and Sundays are for strawberry jam, and Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays are for “red raspberry jam”. How about that!
What on earth could be in the self-proclaimed antichrist’s rider? Human blood? The low rumbling of screams played throughout backstage? No. The list for the Manson dressing room includes a bag of assorted chocolate-minis, French onion dip and a cheese tray. Of course! The list rounds off with “Please make sure, that air conditioning works. This is REALLY important!! Thanks!!!”.
This particular rider caused a bit of a stir when it was released, being covered by several news outlets. Though some of it is a little tongue-n-cheek, including a request for guacamole to be made by a specific recipe that was attached to the rider, the rider concludes with “PLEASE NOTE: This is a NO BANANA TOUR. (Seriously) We don’t want to see bananas anywhere in the building.” Certainly peculiar out of context. Jack White did clarify that, of course, it was due to an allergy of one of his crew. Nonetheless, that tour will always be the NO BANANA TOUR.
Along with a request for the specific room temperature of 78 degrees, Beyoncé’s rider includes “Juicy Baked Chicken: Legs, Wings & Breast only (Please season with fresh garlic, season salt, black pepper, and Cayenne pepper HEAVILY SEASONED!!)”. However, the green beans and steamed spinach should only be lightly seasoned. The rider of course includes the clarification that she cannot drink Coca-Cola products due to her deal with Pepsi.
Kanye West’s rider begins quite tame, covering some relatively basic foods, how many water bottles and what seating is required. However, it’s not long down the list before the “Must have items”, which include a soft bristle toothbrush, a pair of shower shoes, two tubes of Carmex lip balm and Nivea “Intensive” Lotion. No chapped lips or dry skin for Kanye. Not now. Not ever.
With a status as large as his, James Brown needed treatment to match. Alongside the request for a 5-star hotel, the rider includes a demand for a room for James Brown’s wardrobe mistress. However, the most remarkable is the request made for ground transportation; a stretch limousine, either black or white. Furthermore, said limousine had to be 186 inches long, and a current year model. Of course!
Back in the ‘00s, Foo Fighters had a rider with some humorous clauses in. One of these was the demand that the Foo Fighters should never need to share a dressing room with another artist, unless the artist was “Supergrass, Oasis or maybe Led Zeppelin”. The paragraph continues to request that any ‘strange’ odours be covered up. In the food requests, alongside many other funny phrases such as “REMEMBER, CAULIFLOWER BLOWS”, they request a deli tray of various cheeses. How would they know what cheeses should be on the board you ask? Well, “DAVE LOVES STINKY CHEESE”. There you have it.
You may well have heard about the infamous 18 page document of a rider submitted for Iggy Pop! This is a belter, and I’d certainly suggest you have a read of it yourself! Under monitor requirements is written “We need: one monitor man who speaks good English and is not afraid of death.” Further down the list, the document explains that “…our guitar roadie, Chris, assured me that the panda is not of the genus ‘bear’, but is actually a part of the ‘pig’ family.” Along with the requests for the dressing room is: “Cauliflower / Broccoli, cut into individual florets and thrown immediately into the garbage.” I guess he’s not a fan either then, no?
One of my favourite requests is of Prince. In 2004, the rider clarified that all items requested in the rider, should be covered in cling film, “only to be uncovered by main artist. That is absolutely necessary”. Aside from that, it appears to be a relatively ordinary rider. How mysterious…