Van Halen was an American rock band founded in Pasadena, California, in 1972. The band was known for their energetic live performances and lead man Eddie Van Halen’s virtuosity. But did you know that the band had a quirky request on their performance contract?
In their performance contracts, Van Halen stipulated that a bowl of M&M’s with all of the brown M&M’s removed be placed in their dressing room. They did this not to be jerks but as a simple test to see if more important safety and quality specifications were also met.
No Brown M&Ms in Their Bowl
The band’s official concert contract stipulated that the backstage area be supplied with bowls of M&Ms, but ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES. Yes, this demand was written in all caps on the contracts.
While this may appear petty and childish, the band had a reason for the brown M&M clause: if the venue slipped up on that, it immediately called into question the venue’s attention to detail.
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.David Lee Roth, Vocalist of Van Halen
This became so famous in rock lore that it inspired a similar story in Wayne’s World 2. (Source: Eighties Kids)
What was Jimi Hendrix’s Influence on Van Halen?
Eddie Van Halen has long been mentioned alongside another sadly missed rock legend, Jimi Hendrix. Most music critics agreed that Van Halen was the most innovative and influential guitarist since Jimi Hendrix.
The Van Halen guitarist dismissed such comparisons, claiming that Hendrix was not a significant personal influence. However, the band did steal from the 1960s rock legend unexpectedly.
The iconic Van Halen logo, which appears prominently on their albums and merchandise, is nearly identical to one seen on a Jimi Hendrix poster.
This fact was only recently discovered, and it needs to be clarified whether the band was aware of it; the Van Halen logo was long thought to have been designed by artist Dave Bhang. (Source: Eighties Kids)
The Million Dollar Drunk Gig
Van Halen’s classic lineup was at the pinnacle of their fame in 1983 when they headlined the heavy metal day of the US Festival.
With an estimated 375,000 tickets sold, this massive live music event in San Bernadino, California, featured performances from many of the era’s most famous artists. Van Halen was paid $1.5 million for this show, which put them in the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest fee ever commanded by a band for a single performance.
And, as the video below shows, it wasn’t just a broken world record that night. The band, particularly frontman David Lee Roth, was heavily intoxicated during the show. Roth did not waste any time cracking wise and slamming other bands who performed at the US Festival, including The Clash, whom Roth accused of drinking iced tea from whiskey bottles.
Van Halen’s US festival salary has since been dwarfed by The Rolling Stones, who reportedly command $4 million fees per show. (Source: Eighties Kids)
Image from Vulture