You most likely know what a rider is when it comes to touring bands. If not, it is basically a list of items ( the majority being food and drinks) that the band requests as part of their contract with the concert venue. Many times it is also made clear that if those requests are not met, the band will not be performing that evening.
In Excess All Areas: A Lighthearted Look at the Demands and Idiosyncrasies of Rock Icons on Tour, Sue Richmond takes the reader backstage into the dressing rooms of 100 artists and shows us just how crazy and unpredictable these requests can be at times. And reading these lists will most likely make you thankful that you are not the person in charge of fulfilling them!
Some riders are surprisingly tame, such as Black Sabbath asking for a fresh fruit tray and hot chocolate, in addition to other wholesome items. There are some items on the list that make you think that the band might just be playing a game with you ( do you really need a new Teletubby stuffed toy at each venue on your tour?) and if they are not playing a game, why exactly do they actually require a boa constrictor?
Of course you will have the bands that want a massive amount of alcohol and they are usually very picky with exactly which types they will accept and in what quantity. And many bands also request what might seem like an excessive amount of towels, and even specify that they be CLEAN towels.
If you need a refreshing change of pace, check out The Beatles rider which simply asked for a black and white television set and a few Coca-Colas, or Elvis’ small list of 10 soft drinks and 4 cups of water. The riders are not dated, so the reader can never quite be sure how current the list is, as one would tend to believe that Mr. Presley’s list eventually grew as the years went on.
The author has worked in the music industry for many years and is joined for this publication by illustrator Wilf Hanson. Both are from the UK, which may explain why quite a few artists listed in the book are ones that us Americans may not be acquainted with.
This is a great book to flip through and get some laughs out of. The only thing that might make it better would be some anecdotal stories about these bands on tour and as stated, it would be nice to know what year these riders were written. Basically it is a book of lists with humorous illustrations. It’s definitely fun for what it is but not what you are looking for if you want an in-depth look at the life of a rock star on tour. However, if you want to share a laugh with some friends over how ridiculous rock stars can be, then this is a definitely an entertaining book to have on hand.