You may already know the story about Van Halen's M&Ms rider, but I had checked out of rock music by the early 1980s, so this was new to me. Thanks to This American Life, however, I am finally up to speed. Here's the background, as told by The Smoking Gun:
Here is the excerpt from the rider:
I suppose one might infer from this contract that Van Halen was very picky, perhaps even superstitious, about M&Ms. Or you might speculate that Van Halen was planting trip wires in the contract for its counterparties, means by which VH might weasel out the contract if a concert became suddenly undesirable. But according to David Lee Roth, the M&Ms clause was actually a very clever monitoring device:
The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function. So just as a little test, in the technical aspect of the rider, it would say "Article 148: There will be fifteen amperage voltage sockets at twenty-foot spaces, evenly, providing nineteen amperes . . ." This kind of thing. And article number 126, in the middle of nowhere, was: "There will be no brown M&M's in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation."
So, 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. Sometimes it would threaten to just destroy the whole show. Something like, literally, life-threatening.
Yes, you could ask a fun hypothetical about contract doctrine using these facts, but why waste such wonderful facts on trivialities? Teach your students how a transactional lawyer and David Lee Roth would think about this provision
P.S. If you are planning to listen the episode of This American Life, do not miss Act Two, a laugh-out-loud dramatic reading of a contract between a son and his visiting mother.
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