The amazing thing about being an ultra-celebrity is the ability to make dumb-as-balls demands and have them met with fawning acquiescence. And nobody in the history of celebrity has taken this further than musicians and their idiotic tour riders – that is, the requirements a venue must contractually meet in order to lure said performer in. So without further ado, let's take a look at some times your favorite musicians lost all contact with reality.
In the world of EDM, there has to be no shortage of idiotic rider requests. When your entire genre is built around seeing which douchebag can make noises more unpleasant than the original AOL startup sound, there's no doubt things are going to get stupid quickly. So that's what makes Deadmau5's demand of an inflatable animal, at least 5 feet, in height so ridiculous. It's somehow even more sad, more hollow, than one of his rival DJs presumably requesting Paulie's robot from Rocky IV to be their pre-show butler. Here's Deadmau5, just sitting backstage staring at an inflatable giraffe, getting in the zone, terrified of his genre's version of a sore throat might hit (the Gchat notification right before the bass drops).
Not all riders have to be backstage blowouts. Some can happen before the musician even enters the venue. In Katy Perry's world, that means a set of strict rules for her drivers to the concert that make them behave like robo-cabbies in dystopian future movies. Her driver is not to, under any circumstances, speak to her. Which, I get. Everyone knows the feeling of taking a hard look at the door handle while you're flying down the freeway when the Uber driver starts repeating some Facebook "news" he heard. But she takes it even farther, that S.O.B. had better not even look at her through the rearview mirror if he knows what's good for him. I love the idea of her demands getting so absurd that they're actively endangering the safety of everyone around by making the driver neglect basic driving safety. You thought the driver thing was bad? Wait until you see Katy on her private jet. If that pilot so much as thinks about performing a landing with the wheels down, she's going to have his ass. Katy likes a rough, Con Air-style landing into every city.
There aren't many bands more synonymous with every hard-partying trope than Motley Crue. They earned it during their run in the ‘80s and ’90s (and I can't even imagine what those riders looked like). But their rider in later years, when they cleaned things up, is even more absurd. It starts with one of the more sensible additions to these lists I've seen: a list of local Alcoholics Anonymous venues for them to check out in the area. But then, it gets into the kind of crap you end up demanding when you've lived a life that necessitates that first bit: a submachine gun, some peanut butter, and a 12-foot-long boa constrictor. I have no doubt in the world that everyone on that arduous road to sobriety would have a much easier time if someone could just get them a Mac-10 and a huge snake already.
Not every band or musician is out there demanding fauna yanked from their natural habitats. Some want humans. Extremely specific types of humans. That's the case for butt rock band Korn, who made demands for a "rock-friendly" lawyer. Picturing the cheesedick lawyer who defines himself as "rock-friendly" is the best part of this. This is the kind of lawyer that got a TV show on History in the early 2010s. ("Here's the pitch: Rock Lawyer ... we, uh, we just put a bandana on a regular lawyer and told him to do the devil horns thing a lot when he's failing to get people out of DUI sentences on the Vegas strip. But he drives a cool car! Also, don't pay attention to his case win percentage.")
It's something of a legend at this point, but still far too ridiculous to not include in here. Essentially, Van Halen would go and make some poor intern load up their dressing room with M&M's under one condition: they took out every single brown one before they got in there. I can't even pretend not to love this one. How many career courses did they shift with this one request? You could be loving every single second of your job as a venue assistant, a good stepping stone to your own career in the industry, but the second Van Halen comes to town, you're walking right into an Army recruiter's office.
What's most interesting about this legend is why Van Halen would make anyone go through this to begin with … and it actually kind of makes sense. In the years since, it's come to light that they weren't setting up sicko candy scavenger hunts just for laughs, but to see if the promoters had actually read the band's contract. A pretty ingenious little move, and one that for sure has me thinking that if I am ever in this situation, you had better believe I will be on the lookout for my bathtub filled with 6,000 Monterrey Jack taquitos from 7/11.
When you picture what it looks like backstage at a Madonna show, I bet a lot of things come to mind. I'd also bet that the main image isn't something like the command center on an episode of 24. If Madonna is performing at your spot, you had better go and see how the UN has their office set up, because she demands 20 international phone lines at each show. I make less than 20 calls a year. The thought of even looking at this many phones, landlines especially, gives me a wave of anxiety I can't describe. What happens if they all start ringing? I know this request was from before the era of robocallers, but I would love to see that phone bank now just going absolutely ballistic with 20 different warnings concerning Madonna's car warranty.
Of course Mariah Carey would request an entire Pixar cast for an appearance. Nobody besides John Woo needs access to that many doves, and the idea of just plopping nearly two dozen cats around them is the kind of thought only someone truly, completely, entirely untethered from the human experience can have.
What makes this one most interesting is that it was actually denied. Would love to have seen the poor bastard who had to deliver that information. "I'm sorry, Ms. Carey. We, uh, we weren't able to secure that amount of doves and they only had regular colored cats." Mariah Carey emerges from a bathtub filled with champagne, slowly pulls on a robe, and grabs a broadsword hanging from the replica of Nick Cannon's head on the wall. The intern thinks of his happiest moment (that breezy July day at his grandparents' farm), and all is nothing.
Musicians are like entertaining a party full of only people with food restrictions. Jack White's tour rider kicks things up even further by demanding venues prepare his homemade guacamole recipe for his arrival. This one is just too far for me to get behind. Sending them out on a search for the best guac in town? Sure, whatever. Changing their profession entirely and forcing them to cook for you? No. Sorry. You're just going to get that Ninja Turtle ooze grocery store guacamole, and I'll maaaaybe put some lime wedges next to it.