Van Halen’s ‘No Brown M&Ms’ Rider Demand Explained by Promoter
Back in the day, Van Halen set the gold standard for outrageous rider requests, although according to legend, their most famous demand — no brown M&Ms — wasn’t outrageous at all.
As the story goes, the band slipped in that seemingly inconsequential detail as a test to see whether the venues they were visiting had adhered to more important considerations regarding safety and treatment of the crew.
In his new memoir ‘Backstage Past’ — excerpted on the LA Times website — veteran concert promoter Barry Fey recalls what happened one night in 1980 at the University of Southern Colorado when Van Halen found their instructions had not been followed to a T.
“In their Pueblo dressing room, the band found brown M&Ms and the boys, who had proven that they didn’t need much of an excuse to damage hotel rooms and the like, tore up the college’s dressing room,” Fey writes. “Tore it up so badly that the University banned not only Van Halen, but all rock concerts at the school.”
Years later, Fey had occasion to book the band at the US Festival, and because he’s a “smart ass,” in his own words, he gave the rockers their comeuppance.
“I bought a big, silver chalice, had it filled with ONLY brown M&Ms, walked into Van Halen’s dressing room and put it down on the table,” he write.s “The guys- — Eddie and Alex Van Halen and David Lee Roth — laughed their asses off.”
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