While I was happy to see the Van Halen "no brown M&M's" tour rider mentioned in your featured article ("Creature Comforts," Dec. 24), which I found funny, for the record, I wished the author had noted the reason why Van Halen mentioned "No brown M&M's" in the first place.
This came about for a very specific reason. During a (crazy) show the band almost died/was seriously injured during a pyrotechnics malfunction. Someone hadn't fully read the tour rider, where it clearly stated how much power the band would need, and what safety precautions needed to be met.
Ever since that near-explosive night, the band needed a way to make sure that the tour rider had been read to the "t," so if they put "no brown M&M's" on their rider sheet, came into the dressing room, saw brown M&M's in the bowl, they knew immediately there may be issues and perhaps they wouldn't perform. Safety first folks!
For bands coming through and playing our local venues, perhaps a rider may not be need to be gone over by a lawyer, but often times, it's lawyers themselves who help draft the riders up.
I have many friends who put on shows, promoters local and in cities afar, who have told me the famous brown M&M's story. In your article's write-up about all the charitable and funny stuff, unicorn heads and all, you neglected to mention why the brown M&M's was put into play in the first place.
Safety — before all the fun and music can be enjoyed, by both fans and musicians. We don't need anyone injured due to faulty electrical, poor placement of stage props, speakers, or just plain laziness to read the bands' requests in the first place on the part of the hosting promoter/venue.
B. Sherman, Arcata