The 5 Most Outrageous Tour Riders in Music History

No brown M&Ms for Van Halen! Misinterpreted as excess, the band was really testing promoters’ attention to detail. If the M&Ms aren’t right, imagine what else has been overlooked!

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Some of the artists below may take themselves a little too seriously. Other artists poke fun at the absurdity of being allowed such requests. To be fair, life on the road, even for the biggest stars, is grueling work. In an effort to keep them sane, and maintain a high level of performance, a tour rider is an attempt to make the artist more comfortable. High-level touring is a massive operation, and there are many places where things can go catastrophically wrong. Why not at least control what you can control and make sure Kenny G’s flower arrangement features his requested “Japanese flair?”

Acknowledging the above, sometimes an overcorrection can happen. Below is a look at the five most outrageous tour riders in music history. 

1. Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey’s backstage area resembles a small apartment. Her rider requests the door open to a living room space, not the dressing room. All rooms should be draped and the couch must not contain busy patterns. Set room temperature to 75 degrees.

The food and drink requirements are not outrageous—FIJI still water, S. Pellegrino sparkling water, fried chicken, red and white wine. But the four Joe Malone vanilla candles are pretty…specific. And don’t forget the two vases (pronounced “VOZ-es.” Not that Mariah cares how you pronounce it, we’re just sayin’) of white roses. The Coke and Gatorade sugary drinks contradict the sugarless gum requirement. And small bottles of room temperature water, lemons, and honey also make sense—they are necessary accommodations for any touring singer. 

[RELATED: Mariah Carey Wants to Patent Title ‘Queen of Christmas,’ Others Say ‘No’]

2. Kanye West

Ye’s rider is just evidence of a man taking care of himself, y’know? Requests include a barber’s chair, anti-dandruff shampoo, Carmex lip balm, and moisturizer. A slushie machine will be needed backstage, of course. And Ye’s driver must wear 100% cotton clothing.

One box of toothpicks is needed along with one bottle of hot sauce. Oh, and the bowl of Sunkist Salted Pistachio Nuts mustn’t contain red coloring. A “tub” of plain yogurt for dipping shall be provided, though it’s not clear what items will be dipped. But what is clear is that Ye will also require some liquor. The liquor demands are: One 750 ml bottle of Hennessey Cognac, one 750 ml bottle of SKYY Vodka or Absolut Vodka, one bottle of Patrón Silver Tequila, and four six-packs of Heineken beer. 

3. Rihanna

The “Umbrella” singer has just a few demands on her tour rider. Ambiance and comfort is crucial. Rihanna asks for the backstage area to be decorated using blue or black drapes layered with “icy-blue chiffon.” The candle requests are very specific: Six Archipelago Black Forest candles. If it’s not possible to find these candles, the promotor must contact the team “ASAP as we have a second choice of candle for Ri.”

Rihanna needs a large cheetah or leopard print rug to walk on. Please clean the rug because she will be walking barefoot on it. Adequate lighting is required for a “relaxed atmosphere.” White drapes will be used to cover lockers and/or brick backstage. And finally, a humidifier and four small, clear, square vases (weird—Rihanna says to call them “VACE-es.” Don’t shoot the messenger) with white tulips is needed in the dressing room. Oh yes, please: no foliage. If white tulips cannot be found, white “Casa Blanca” lilies will do in a pinch. Again, no foliage. 

4. Iggy Pop

Iggy Pop delivers his tour rider in Jack Kerouac-like stream of consciousness form. Backline amp requirements demand quality gear. Otherwise, “we’ll all end up as wormlike web-based life forms in the bass player’s online literary diarrhea.” For instrument cable length, the rider politely explains to “American brethren” the conversion of meters to inches. A plaque must be included with the bass drum pedal stating “William Shakespeare slept here for six months in 1586.”

Heavy duty cooling fans need to be placed on stage so Iggy can wear a scarf and “pretend to be in a Bon Jovi video.” The band does not travel with a monitor engineer because, “In the future robots will work for us and make the world a better place.” Also, the monitor man cannot be afraid to die. There’s a request for the tour manager to receive pins showing the countries he’s visited. The rider’s author concludes by writing, “I feel all nerdy just typing it.”

5. Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters’ 2008 tour rider is something special. Acknowledging how ridiculous tour riders have become, the Foos went all-in on rockstar requirements. The band asks for unopened boxes of cereal and implores promotors not to recycle cereal from “last night’s Dio show.” Every lunch should include a vegetarian soup of the day because “meaty soups make roadies fart.”

The band threatens the promotor with a wedgie if they receive new but unwashed bath towels. Manly-scented candles are requested. Tubs of clean ice are needed in the band’s dressing room 90 minutes before the show. The rider explains further, “If you have McDonald’s, Best Buy, and porno, then you gotta have ice.” The Foo Fighters advise the promotor to shoplift from IKEA if need be “to make the dressing room comfy and sexy.” And in case you were thinking Dave Grohl was trying to get “The Best of You,” all excess food must be donated to a local soup kitchen. 

Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Qatar Airways

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