When I’m bored and feeling especially cash-strapped, I like to imagine what it’d be like to be a celebrity with the money and power to request whatever I want. Just think how nice life would be if there were people on hand to cater to your every whim, desperate to do whatever it takes to make you happy. It seems like the impossible dream, but that’s the reality of many performers on tour. You’d think they’d be grateful for anything they’re given, but the majority of stars come with demand lists a mile long—and some of their bizarre requirements make Van Halen’s infamous “no brown M&Ms” rule seem reasonable by comparison.
On one of her 1990s concert tours, Ms. Jackson made sure that her personal room came with lots of furniture (a couch, a loveseat, and chairs), yet the rooms for her dancers and backup singers only had to include chairs. Her room also needed a $75 bouquet of white flowers and two end tables—that last one was in all caps, so you know she really means it, but why would that be so important? Her rider also specifies in all caps: NO FISH ICE! I’m not sure exactly what fish ice entails, but it sounds gross enough that I can’t help but agree with that one.
Hands down, Dave Grohl and company win the honor of best contract rider, especially with requests for a “bag of Pirate Booty (not Johnny Depp’s),” “MEXICAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” for one of the dinners, and “kielbasas that make men self conscious.” It’s obvious that they don’t take themselves seriously and like to have fun with their promoters. Although they make it clear that consequences for not adhering to their guidelines will be swift and severe. For example, a supply of unwashed bath towels results in a wedgie.
The desires of these mild-mannered Brits may surprise some of their fans. Coldplay’s dressing room comes stocked with four bottles of wine, one bottle of vodka, and forty-eight beers. Mind you, members of the crew get their own rooms. Plus they require a case of beer on every bus, so just how much alcohol can these guys put away? Rest assured, the sensitive souls we know and love aren’t lost—they also ask for eight local postcards, ostensibly to send to Gwyneth, Apple, and the rest of the Coldplay brood.
J-Lo’s tour rider—the contract between artist and show promoter that details the artist’s needs—are well-known at this point, mainly because they’re so ridiculous. She has a white fetish that necessitates her dressing room to be white, right down to the drapes, candles, and flowers. As for flowers outside of the room, she offers some leniency: white roses or lilies, or yellow roses (but only with a red trim). And lest you think this is only for her personal tours, she required the exact same conditions at a studio where she spent ninety minutes recording a song for charity.
The “Mandy” singer doesn’t have too many outlandish requests compared to his musical peers. He asks for chairs for the band and some couches, if it’s possible. And his insistence that his dressing room be secure makes sense, but that part about his fan club being allowed in at 11 a.m. to put decorations up in his room? That’s a little out of the ordinary.
Busta likes to get the party started early. At the sound checks for his shows, he asks for the usual—a tray of deli meats and cheeses for sandwiches, unlimited hot tea, water, and a couple cases of beer. He also includes on his must-have list a bag of peppermints, a 24-piece bucket of chicken from KFC, and a box of either Rough Rider or Lifestyles condoms (ribbed specifically). The first two seem obvious—fried chicken is no friend to fresh breath—and as for that last one, well, I guess sound checks are more wild than I ever imagined!
It seems he’s so synonymous with his nerdy former character that billing him as “Dustin Diamond” instead of “Screech” is number one on his rider. However, as long his real name comes first, promoters can follow it with “formerly Screech from Saved by the Bell,” as long as the latter’s lettering is half as small. At least he somewhat acknowledges his bread and butter, but this fails to answer my big question: who would actually pay to see him on tour?
Promoters can be fined for not adhering to contract demands, so hosts to Kid Rock better have the following in his dressing room by 2 p.m.—orange and grape soda, Hawaiian Punch, Tostitos and Munchos, shrimp cocktail, potato salad, and cheese dip. Oh, and one pack of Tums for the stomachache that’s sure to follow such consumption. He also asks for a pack of white tank tops, just in case he’s caught without his signature accessory.
It’s no secret that Cher sports a plethora of wigs, but did you know she requires an entire room for them? Inexplicably, the wig room also has to have a table and chairs. She’s also nice enough to procure a brown bag lunch for each of her drivers that includes one bottle of water, a piece of fruit, and some chips—though that seems pretty stingy considering her dressing room alone hosts large quantities of nine different beverages. Also, don’t even think about making her or her managers wear backstage passes.
After seeing these stars’ crazy requirements, I don’t see why we shouldn’t all have our wishes catered to every now and then. My needs are so simple compared to theirs—just a homemade chocolate chip cookie waiting for me when I get home would be enough to put a smile on my face. And that’s way less expensive than the buckets of booze that most of these performers expect. Now I just need to get famous, hire a lawyer, and resist the urge to demand color-specific flowers and rooms dedicated to my wigs.
Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images