Riders: What past California Mid-State Fair performers have requested

Months before entertainers ever set foot onstage, tour managers and production staff hammer out the details of rider contracts -- complex documents that include specifications on everything from stage design to dressing room accommodations.

Hospitality riders deal with meals and other amenities, as well as drivers, security personnel and runners, who act as personal shoppers. Sound systems, lighting rigs and other equipment are the territory of technical riders.

Here are some of the more unusual perks requested by California Mid-State Fair performers, based on fair entertainment contracts from 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

  • Life on the road can be stressful. Aerosmith, Journey and Paul Simon all asked for masseuses specializing in deep tissue massage, and Godsmack needed a room for its own massage therapist in 2007.
  • Aging rockers Aerosmith asked for “an MD, Chiropractor; an Ear, Nose & Throat Specialist and a Masseuse who can make themselves available the day before and the day of your show.” They also requested “two oxygen tanks available at all times the band is in the building” and a tub of ice for frontman Steven Tyler’s aching feet.
  • Safety-savvy country singer Tim McGraw requested a police escort to and from his 2009 performance, where as many as 25 security personnel guarded exits and entrances. He also required at least one canine team to ensure the venue was “free of any explosive devices” before local security took their spots.
  • In 2008, fashion-conscious singer Fergie asked that her runners be “smartly dressed in black.” So did the Black Eyed Peas in 2009.
  • Singer-songwriter John Mayer included an “environmental rider” in his 2008 contract asking that venues provide used battery collection and recycling bins, use eco-friendly cleaning products and “encourage a ‘no-idling’ policy with venue and runner vehicles.” Rock band Styx also urged green practices in 2009, requesting that “no Styrofoam products nor single serving condiment packages be used backstage.”
  • Stone Temple Pilots requested such health-conscious choices as soy cheese, carob-covered peanuts and a tray of beets, carrots, celery, ginger root and Granny Smith apples “prepared for juicing.” The 2008 performers also wanted a “work out room,” but one was not available.
  • In contrast, comedian Larry the Cable Guy asked for two large meat lover’s pizzas, 50 buffalo wings and drumsticks from Hooters, and eight grilled chicken Caesar salads in 2006.
  • Country singer Keith Urban’s personal trainer had him on a strict diet in 2006: a six-egg white omelet with chicken, tomato, mushroom and spinach for breakfast, a grilled chicken breast over salad greens for lunch, a fruit plate at 3:30 p.m. and broiled fish with rice and veggies at 4:30 p.m.
  • Some performers follow set schedules for meals. When the Steve Miller Band played the fair in 2006, they ate kebabs with pita bread, taboulleh and Greek salad for lunch and roast turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy for dinner. “American Idol” singer Kelly Clarkson also enjoyed a Thanksgiving Day-style feast in 2009.
  • Homesick British rockers Judas Priest requested an English cheese board, featuring sharp cheddar, Stilton, Cathedral City, Emmental and Red Leicester, plus other English delicacies like PG tips tea and Cadbury chocolate bars.
  • Styx had a very specific request in 2008: “2 LARGE PIZZAS 1-1/2 sausage, ½ pepperoni 1-all cheese pizza TO BE DELIVERED TO STYX HOSPITALITY ROOM 2 HOURS PRIOR TO SHOW TIME **VERY IMPORTANT**”

-- Sarah Linn