The Legendary Brown M&Ms

Written by on October 14, 2020

You know something’s gone wrong when you see those brown M&Ms…. 

Spoiled music star. It’s a rock n roll stereotype that has perpetuated over the decades, resulting in people who think all musicians do is smash TVs, do hardcore drugs and refuse to perform because someone mixed up La Croix with Soda on their contract. But… are we always hearing the full story behind these tantrums?

Take Eddie Van Halen’s brown M&Ms for example.

Since Van Halen passed away last week (rest in peace legend), I’ve been doing a bit of reading on the late guitar icon. He was a virtuoso and a showman. Ladies and men alike swooned when he took the stage. Van Halen’s exploratory approach to the guitar was one of the main reasons of course -and his face melting solos- but beyond that was his ability to put on a spectacle: fire, jumps in mid-air, coordinated rolling around on the floor with his band mates, and lights.  Pounds and pounds of lights. “850 par lamp lights”to be exact, according to Van Halen’s lead singer David Lee Roth.



Van Halen’s stage set up was so advanced that the band started bringing their own lights to each show – along with long, long contracts about how to properly set up the stage so that band wouldn’t risk injuring themselves or their expensive equipment during the show. But it turned out people don’t like reading (big surprise).  So in retaliation, the band developed a plan to find out quickly if venues were reading show contracts before each performance. Brown M&Ms.

Listed in the rider section of show contracts, in between snack and drink requests, was a request for M&Ms…. WITH ALL OF THE BROWN ONES TAKEN OUT!  Extreme right? But watch this – because they asked the venue to remove all of the brown m&ms, the band could easily tell from the second they walked into the green room whether or not the whole contract was read.

If there was no brown M&Ms, they knew their lights & sound would be set up properly.

If there WAS brown M&Ms…. the band would have to have an extra talk with whoever was running sound and lights that evening.


Next time you hear a crazy music story…. remember that there just might be a reason behind it. Even it’s only a small one.  😉

For more info on the story, check out  David Lee Roth’s explanation of the “Brown M&MS” myth here on Youtube  , and more about Eddie Van Halen here.  


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