NPR logo 'Absolutely No Brown Ones': The Van Halen M&M Rider


'Absolutely No Brown Ones': The Van Halen M&M Rider

Sorting candy: If you're a powerful enough band, you can get people to do it for you. hide caption

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There's been a legend for many years that Van Halen used to have a concert rider (the document laying out requirements for everything from lighting and ticketing to backstage food for the band and crew) that required a supply of M&Ms with all the brown ones removed.

For years, The Smoking Gun has been publishing various concert riders from various bands, many of which are deeply hilarious. I enjoy Christina Aguilera's accidentally funny request for Flintstones vitamins, as well as the intentionally funny Foo Fighters rider that includes fabulous lines like, "Artist shall not be required to share dressing room with any other performer, except Supergrass, Oasis, or maybe Led Zeppelin." (Read the whole thing — helpful red arrows point out the highlights.)

But they never had the Van Halen rider — until now.

Thanks to the family of a concert promoter, the 1982 Van Halen concert rider has surfaced, and it does indeed ask for M&Ms with the caution, "ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES." The supposed justification is that it's a test — if the promoter doesn't read the rider carefully, the presence of brown M&Ms is how you can tell. But of course, that doesn't change the fact that some low-paid underling winds up sorting through a pot of M&Ms to pick out the brown ones, which seems sort of...humiliating, whether it's a test of the promoter or not.