Sparkling water … but, no brown M&Ms !

Awhile ago,, I was invited to do a radio interview on NPR.

When I told my daughter-in-law, she suggested that I request sparkling water and green M&Ms.



I thought that was pretty funny, but didn’t know the story behind it


Now, I realize that all cool people know that rockstars Van Halen always included a contract provision that there be M&Ms in their dressing room and backstage … with the brown M&Ms sorted out.

Publically, that demand morphed to “only green M&Ms” … and was used to tag Van Halen  as uber-spoiled rocksters.

They might have been, but this isn’t the evidence to convict.

According to the Smoking Gun it turns out that there’s more to the story … that the contract provision  was not an example of rock ‘n’ roll hedonism, but a savvy business move:

The rider’s “Munchies” section was where the group made its candy-with-a-caveat request: “M&M’s (WARNING: ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES).”

The group has said the M&M provision was included to make sure that promoters had actually read its lengthy rider.

If brown M&M’s were in the backstage candy bowl, Van Halen surmised that more important aspects of a performance – lighting, staging, security, ticketing — may have been botched by an inattentive promoter.

And, one of my students told me that the provision was added only after a promoter failed to put a restraint in the right place – as spelled out in the contract – and a stage hand had a fatal fall.

I can’t verify that part of the story … that’s the way urban legends are, I guess …

P.S.  No I didn’t get green M&Ms, but I was able to sneak some candy into the studio.


Thanks to JNH for  the idea and JV for feeding the legend.


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One Response to “Sparkling water … but, no brown M&Ms !”

  1. Andrew Yang (MSB 2007) Says:

    David Lee Roth recalls what happened during a concert pre-check in Pueblo, Colorado whereby the organizers failed the brown M&M tripwire – listed here at

    Evidently, the organizer’s failure to read the tech specs closely caused them to miss the sheer weight of the production equipment, resulting in the stage actually sinking through the rubberized basketball gym floor.

    Roth let the urban legend play on that they caused $80K worth of damage to the backstage area following the discovery of brown M&Ms…

    Who would’ve thought he was actually an operations genius?

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