The Smoking Gun, notorious for mocking musician’s excesses by posting artist’s concert riders online, revealed this week that the fine print for Adele’s 2011 U.S. tour contained a beverage caveat noting, “North American beer is NOT acceptable.” Some sensitive souls suffered a wound to their national pride upon reading this, while ignoring the considerably more important clause in the contract that insisted upon all recipients of complementary tickets making a $20 charity donation. In the spirit of showing the altruistic side of celebs, here are some of the more admirable moments from The Smoking Gun’s rider archives. Maybe these will be enough to finally wipe away the memory of Van Halen’s infamous 1982 “no brown M&Ms” rider.
1. The Beatles say, “Screw you!” to segregation
On their 1965 U.S. tour, the Beatles’ contract stipulated that the “Artists will not be required to perform before a segregated audience.” That may not sound like a big deal today, but in the mid ‘60s, when the civil-rights struggle was still a raging inferno of an issue, it was an admirable thing for a bunch of Liverpool lads to put conscience ahead of commerce in parts of the U.S. that were still racially unenlightened.
2. Everything’s coming up roses for Al Green
Al Green may have eventually become a man of the cloth, but for much of his career, he was the quintessential R&B love god, and in his heyday, countless female fans imagined their idol cooing “Let’s Stay Together” directly into their ears. Not one to take this kind of devotion lightly, the sensual soul man crafted a rider requiring two-dozen long-stemmed roses to be placed onstage at each show, in order for him to toss them out to his ardent admirers while his singing sent shivers through their bodies.
3. Phish‘s anti-bullying stance
Leave it to the hippies to promote peace, love, and harmony at their shows. These days, everyone is up in arms about bullying in schools and playgrounds, but what about at rock shows, where security personnel sometimes see fit to flaunt their authority over concertgoers? Never fear, the Vermont jam jockeys have it covered, with a comprehensive list of security procedures that clearly notes, “Phish fans are a peaceful, intelligent group of people who respond better to courteous, respectful requests than to aggressive bullying. It is important that all staff and security be made aware of this fact and apply it throughout the show.”
4. Pearl Jam’s watery way to a better world
Just as you can hear a band evolve with each successive album, sometimes you can witness the evolution of their ideals by rifling through their riders over the years. On their 2003 tour, Pearl Jam insisted on Evian water backstage. But in ’08, the band’s contract required Ethos water instead, stating the point several times and elaborating in all caps, “NO AQUAFINA, DASANI, OR EVIAN.” The reason: Starbucks started Ethos to address the global clean-water crisis, and donates a portion of the profits to programs promoting water, sanitation, and hygiene education. Tell Bono to put that in his Perrier and float it.
These days, more and more musicians are becoming eco-conscious, and making an attempt to go green while touring, in order to make the smallest carbon footprint possible. For her 2010 tour, Sheryl Crow included a lengthy environmental section in her rider, diligently detailing requirements for everything from recycling to bio-diesel fueling, even offering “venue greening suggestions.” Meanwhile, the Beach Boys, immediately after insisting on such eco-unfriendly items as plastic cups and utensils, encapsulated their green consciousness in a single paragraph that ends with an enthusiastic, uppercase, “THE BEACH BOYS AND THE PLANET THANK YOU.” With all respect to Ms. Crow, the grizzled surfer dudes win this one on sheer stoner style.