It’s well-known that many celebrities have some strange demands when they’re traveling, but a story that has gone around for years is that Van Halen always requested a bowl of M&Ms in their room, with all of the brown ones removed. What a strange request!
Except it wasn’t. They had a specific and creative reason for this request.
Van Halen brought some serious hardware to their shows, the biggest production ever at the time, and it was a crazy setup. Their contract rider was massive, but it was essential that promoters read every line of it to make sure the building could handle the power, size and weight of everything they were bringing in. Some promoters merely skimmed the document, which caused many problems over the years.
Included in the rider was the clause to remove the brown M&Ms. If Van Halen arrived at a venue and saw brown M&Ms in the back, that was a sign that the promoter hadn’t carefully read the rider, and they had potential safety concerns in the setup.
Requesting M&Ms with the brown ones removed seemed very silly and petty, but it turned out to a brilliant way to determine what they were walking into.
Here’s David Lee Roth explaining it in an interview years ago: