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Conspicuous Consumption: The celebrity contract rider (The Smoking Gun)

On a show I did with him years ago in Detroit, the great rhythm and blues singer James Brown drove us nuts by only getting in one kind of limousine. If by mistake you sent a Lincoln instead of a Caddie (or maybe it was the other way around), no "Hardest Working Man in Show Business."

If you want to know how pampered some of the richer entertainers can be, visit Backstage Pass, provided by the equally hard-working folks at The Smoking Gun. A section examines the Mr.Doggcontract rider, the part of entertainers' agreements that makes it known what they expect at venues where they are performing. Contract riders include specifications on stage design, sound systems, lighting setups, and other professional matters, but also artists' wish lists -- from transportation and billing to dressing room accommodations and meals. In some cases, a promoter will bravely refuse a demand (crossing out the request on the document), though stars usually get what they want (it's how they know they're loved), whether it’s clean boxer shorts (Jane’s Addiction), prune juice (Kansas), or an arrangement of tulips, roses, gardenias, and lilies (Janet Jackson).

“Over the past couple of years, The Smoking Gun has published excerpts from the backstage riders of a few dozen performers. But that assemblage has not been extensive enough for demanding TSG visitors, so we’ve gone out and obtained loads of new riders. So many, in fact, that our backstage collection now covers a whopping 142 acts–everyone from Frank Sinatra and the Rolling Stones to Kenny G and KC & the Sunshine Band.”

Some examples:

Limp Bizkit: Need dressing rooms with an apartment “vibe.” And, remember, the lights “MUST BE DIMMABLE!!!”

Snoop Doggy Dogg: Security is a must (he’s gotta watch his back); atmosphere, vanilla ice cream, and dinner rolls are also important - hey, a Dogg’s gotta be comfortable up in that shiznit. But when it comes to “very important” matters, only one thing qualifies - a Sony PlayStation.

Paul McCartney: “Very fond of flowers,” won’t travel in a stretch limousine with leather seats, and will not stand for backstage furniture made of any animal skin or print (even if it’s of the artificial variety).

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