Performers' backstage riders: From the bizarre to the impossible

- From the bizarre to the impossible, we went backstage to find out about all those crazy demands the stars make as they get ready for their performances here in the valley. 

In light of the show "Empire" that airs right here on FOX 10, we're taking a look at the performers and their backstage riders. Those are the lists of special demands the stars make as they get ready for their shows.

We talked to concert promoter Danny Zelisko, who's been in the business for over 40 years to find out the good, the bad and the ugly of show business.

Nobody knows show business like Zelisko, especially about the backstage rider demands to keep performers happy. Everything from how Freddie Mercury liked his cheese plates to Meat Loaf's afternoon rituals.

"His big deal was that he had to have chicken soup at 3 o'clock, and then directly following the show, he had to have a certain Subway sandwich. I think it was turkey with cheese and a little lettuce, no mayo!"

In the business since 1974, Zelisko says nothing phases him anymore. Riders can range from five to 100 pages and can include anything from transportation and air temperature to gum preferences and flower choices.

"Years ago, Prince wanted carnations from Denmark.. a room full of them, not a dozen.. like thousands," said Zelisko.

But some things aren't as they appear. For years, Van Halen has been requesting M & Ms candies with the brown ones removed. To many, that may seen ridiculous, but Zielisko says it's a test to see if you actually read the rider.

"So if you didn't read it and those brown M & Ms showed up, they know you didn't read the rider, so they're going to assume the rest of the day is going to go bad and they'll torture you for it."

And if you're wondering who pays for this all, for the most part, it's the artist.

"Usually they're paying for it. The only time they're not paying for it is if nobody comes to the show and you've gone and advanced all this money and you're expecting the ticket sales to pay for it and if the ticket sales don't come in, I'm paying for it and that's when it becomes a an issue." 

Zielisko says he wouldn't trade his job for the world, adding not everyone is a diva. For example, his good friend Alice Cooper is pretty simple.

Zielisko says he understands the demands of being on the road for several months at a time. The artists start to long for consistency and that's where some of those special requests come into play -- to keep things "regular."

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