How To Create A Healthy Diet From Rock Star Riders

The demands of touring musical stars — commonly known as "riders" — are legendary, covering every aspect of production right down to (rather infamously) the colour of M&Ms backstage. But could you eat in a healthy fashion based on rock star rider choices?

Burger picture from Shutterstock. Table tennis picture from Shutterstock. Other pictures: Getty Images, Umberto Rotundo

That's the challenge we've set ourselves, based on the extensive array of rider documents available at The Smoking Gun. We've laid out what we could find for a full day's healthy eating, but as with any diet, it's not just a matter of faddish adherence to a certain pattern if you did want to lose weight.

Breakfast: Metallica or Meatloaf

Breakfast is, as they say, the most important meal of the day. It's also the most difficult to pull from tour riders, because so very few artists go on stage at 7am in the morning. But there are exceptions.

As an example, Metallica specifies in its extensive 2004 rider that breakfast has to be ready for 100 people every day, but also that bacon is very important, with the note "** BACON VERY IMPORTANT THAT BACON BE AVAILABLE AT EVERY MEAL AND DURING DAY.

As much as we love the Internet's favourite bit of prepared pig, we can't pretend that it's substantially healthy, despite our previous experiments with bacon sundaes and bacon milkshakes. It's fatty and salty.

Meatloaf has the same kinds of requirements (including the bacon one), albeit for a smaller crew of 20 people, but we'll give him special mention for the fact that he mandates having a juicer with washed carrots, beets and celery on hand, meaning a healthy vegetable smoothie is never too far away.

Still, the rest of Metallica and Meatloaf's riders provide plenty of healthy low-fat options, so with restraint you could do acceptably well here.

Lunch: Robin Williams, Bon Jovi or Savage Garden

It's not wise to weigh yourself down with a heavy meal in the middle of the day for a number of reasons, but like the breakfast rider, it's tough to find an act that specifies a lunch course.

Robin Williams is one artist who does, and there's plenty of sensible eating to be had with the Mork & Mindy star (though we suspect bringing that show up might get you ejected from the backstage area). Williams' rider requests fresh soups, salads and a simple sandwich bar for lunchtime.

Bon Jovi's general food offering isn't entirely lunch-centred, but focuses on specific salads, grilled steak and a variety of in-season vegetables.

Savage Garden's rider is exceptionally well laid out for healthy eating, noting specifically that "Generally healthy eating by most" is a requirement. Between salads, steamed chicken breasts and even the provision of a special meal to cater to the allergy requirements of one staffer, it appears the now-defunct Brisbane pop stars had healthy eating as a priority.

Optional Snack: AC/DC or Prince

It turns out that veteran rockers AC/DC have an eye towards snack health, although it should also be noted that the same rider also required tour operators to offer up oxygen masks backstage as well. Still, the band's 2008 rider specified organic corn chips, assorted nuts, a bowl of whole fruit and a selection of cheeses and breads backstage. As long as you didn't eat excessively, you should avoid making your gut Thunderstruck.

Or you could go the very lightly snacking Prince, who wants not much more than some mixed non-alcoholic drinks, hummus, fruit and tortilla chips backstage. I guess there's a reason he's that tiny.

Dinner: Eminem, Red Hot Chili Peppers or Lady Gaga

Eminem's backstage rider is made up a lot of individual food components, and while not all of them are entirely healthy — he seems to need a LOT of mustard for some reason — you could certainly make yourself a hearty meal covering the major food groups quite easily from them.

Likewise, there's a good selection of healthy eating options backstage at a Red Hot Chili Peppers gig if their 2000 rider is any indication, including mandatory cheese, only a small meat tray and a piece of ginger root. Bonus points also for preferring Australian still water, too, although worryingly the rider also calls for 4 packs of cigarettes.

Lady Gaga's rider follows the same kind of component-based meal strategy, but it's very specific in areas relating to yoghurts, soups, and fresh fruits and vegetables, all of which are sensible dinner options if you're looking to control your weight.

Bonus: Keeping fit with INXS

No diet will do you any good at controlling your weight without sufficient exercise. INXS' tour rider from 1993 specifies that every promoter has to make a table tennis table available along with bats and balls, giving you plenty of scope to get some high intensity exercise in to finish off your day.

Artists to avoid

  • Ice Cube (mandatory KFC backstage)
  • Bloodhound Gang (Twinkies, hot dogs, Skittles)
  • NKOTB (ice cream, pineapple juice, Oreos, Budweiser and mayonnaise — that's one hell of a sandwich)
  • Frank Sinatra (lots of booze and Lifesavers)
  • Public Enemy (cheese pizza, more mandatory KFC, cookies)
  • 50 Cent (breakfast includes home fries, waffles, bacon)


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