Yes, Van Halen really asked concert halls to do away with Brown M & Ms
In addition to his talents as an epic rock guitarist, Eddie Van Halen and his band have carved out a reputation for themselves in another respect: as pioneering unusual contractors on their concert tours.
Legend has it the band needed the concert halls to provide bowls of M & Ms in their backstage dressing rooms – but remove all the browns.
It’s true. According to a copy of a contract rider of Van Halen’s world tour in 1982, the band insisted on a backstage offering of “Munchies” which included “M & M’s (WARNING: ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN UNES)”
But it wasn’t a rock star diva act, band members later insisted, cutting down on reports they were using any breach of contract as an excuse to trash the place.
As singer David Lee Roth explained in a 2012 interview, the M & Ms bowl indicated whether the concert promoter had actually read the group’s complicated contract and fulfilled all the technical specifications.
“Van Halen was the first group to launch huge productions into third tier tertiary markets,” Roth explained in his 1998 memoir, “Crazy From the Heat”. “We stopped with nine eighteen-wheel trucks, full of equipment, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors – whether it was the beams not being able to support the weight, or the ground would sink in, or the doors were not large enough to pass the equipment.
For this reason, he wrote, “The endorsement read like a version of the Chinese yellow pages because there was so much equipment and so many human beings to operate it. And the insertion of random details like the brown M&M clause served as a “little test”.
“When I was walking backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl,” Roth wrote, “well, check all the production. Guaranteed you’re going to come up with a technical error. They didn’t read the contract. Guaranteed you would have a problem.
Eddie Van Halen, who formed the group in 1972 with his brother Alex, died Tuesday at the age of 65 after a long battle with cancer.