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Regular Contributor

...A BAND ON THE ROCKS - Excerpt #12 (Contract Riders)

(From"BABYSITTING A BAND ON THE ROCKS" - available at Newbury Comics locations throughout the Northeast and online at > Webstore > Books.)


"...While you would assume that as a promoter it would
behoove you to be a good host, to make the best impression you
can so the agents and artists learn to trust you, become loyal, and
hire you to promote the band year fter year when they return to
your market, many promoters thought like Frank and cut corners
in order to maximize the meager profit they were allowed. And
so was born the concert rider, the part of the artist’s performance
agreement that lists everything they feel they need and must be
provided in order to put on a proper show − from major technical
requirements to transportation to catering – plus that infamous
contractual list of incidentals and indulgences that needs to be
delivered to the dressing room to satiate the bands’ appetites and
egos. The originality of their requests is often amusing, confusing,
and sometimes considerably costly to fulfill, often necessitating a
treasure hunt. They quite often involve alcohol.


J. Geils, the Boston boogie band’s namesake guitarist, always
requested a bottle of 18% Thunderbird, a cheap white wine which
despite its lowbrow price was extremely difficult to find. The 14%
alcohol version was readily available and a staple of almost any
local liquor store, but the more potent 18% strain was a rare thing.
On the road I’d have to search the seediest parts of whatever town
we were in to procure J’s screwtop poison. The upside of The
Calderone being located in past-its-prime Hempstead was that
Thunderbird 18 was fully stocked just down the block. I’d buy and
store a case or two to keep on hand so I wouldn’t be caught short.
I have heard that once asked by an interviewer why, since the band
had finally broke nationally with their first #1 hit “Centerfold” and
he was now a bona fide rock star who could be drinking the world’s
finest wines, he instead requested a brown bagger. J. replied with
shameless honesty to the effect of “I never want to forget where I
came from...because I could be back there real soon.”

Ted Nugent, on the other hand, insisted upon elusive vintages
of Chateau Lafite Rothschild, maybe a hundred bucks a bottle
even then. He also had a jones for an obscure root beer from his
home state of Michigan, which I couldn’t locate. I heard that after
continued frustration with promoters’ lack of success in supplying
the sweet suds, Ted eventually bought the soda company..."

Review Link to Classic Rock History


The Van Halen catering requests have become legendary.  An edit from their contract rider is below.

VH 1982 Conract Rider.gif

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Honored Social Butterfly

No brown m&m’s and a large tube of ky jelly? Weird on so many levels!

Regular Contributor

Weird is puting it mildly, but I nonetheless had all of the the brown M&Ms removed.

Another time, Van Halen's contract rider listed a tray of Coney Island whitefish along with the rest of the food items. I am one of few people that actually understood what they were demanding, and it's nothing close to what the words seem to imply.  You'll have to read the book to find out...

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