David Lee Roth, Visionary Businessman
The on-again, off-again Van Halen chief’s impressive trick
Scroll favorite David Lee Roth, to whom we paid tribute here, and Van Halen were famous for their stories of excess while the rock band was on tour in the 1980s. One infamous proviso of their 1982 tour rider stipulated that each venue must have a massive amount of M&M’s candy at the ready for the band backstage, specifying that no brown M&M’s were to be tolerated whatsoever.
If the concert promoter didn’t follow through with the demand, the promoter would forfeit his fee for the event, needless to say, a significant amount of scrilla. In a series of interviews released last year, David Lee Roth explained (at some length) that the M&M demand wasn’t just about the candy.
“Van Halen was the first to take 850 par lamp lights — huge lights — around the country,” explained singer David Lee Roth. “At the time, it was the biggest production ever.” Many venues weren’t ready for this. Worse, they didn’t read the contract explaining how to manage it. The band’s trucks would roll up to the concert site, and the delays, mistakes and costs would begin piling up.
So Van Halen established the M&M test. “If I came backstage and I saw brown M&M’s on the catering table, it guaranteed the promoter had not read the contract rider, and we had to do a serious line check,” Roth explained.
If you’re wondering how this legend has any modern relevance, Ezra Klein writes about how Van Halen’s little slice of business acumen (disguised as eccentric and unreasonable neediness) has a policy analogue in the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare). It’s a smart piece, not only because it makes proper use of this little bit of Van Halen trivia.
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at email@example.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.