Brown M&M

I can never remember…

Was it Aerosmith, Bon Jovi or Van Halen ?

And was it jelly beans ? Minties or M&M’s ?

 

It was Brown M&M’s and they were a part of Van Halen’s contract for venues.

The band specified “Munchies”, including M & M’s WARNING: ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES

The M&Ms provision was included in Van Halen’s contracts as it served a practical purpose: to provide a simple way of determining whether the technical specifications of the contract had been thoroughly read and complied with.

As Van Halen lead singer David Lee Roth explained in his autobiography:

Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We’d pull up with nine eighteen-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors — whether it was the girders couldn’t support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren’t big enough to move the gear through.

The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function. So just as a little test, in the technical aspect of the rider, it would say “Article 148: There will be fifteen amperage voltage sockets at twenty-foot spaces, evenly, providing nineteen amperes …” This kind of thing. And article number 126, in the middle of nowhere, was: “There will be no brown M&M’s in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.”

So, when I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl … well, line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you’re going to arrive at a technical error. They didn’t read the contract. Guaranteed you’d run into a problem. Sometimes it would threaten to just destroy the whole show. Something like, literally, life-threatening.

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