The old story goes that, when Van Halen was touring big arenas in the ’80s, they banned brown M&Ms from their dressing rooms. The ban was part of a rider on the contract that gives the local arenas all the little quirks of the performers.
Those types of quirks of the rich and famous have always made for good reading. Jennifer Lopez, for instance, demanded as part of a charity video shoot, that her dressing room be white, with white flowers, white candles, white couches and white drapes. A contract by Mary J. Blige demanded new toilet seats.
And brown M&Ms was part of the Van Halen contract.
Why? It was for safety. As frontman Dave Lee Roth explains, getting ready for an upcoming tour and new album with the group, if there were brown M&Ms around backstage, it simply meant that the local arena had not read the contract. And because this band travelled much heavier than others — meaning more 18 wheelers hauling all kinds of gear from place to place — there was more room for injury and technical error.
So they slipped in the brown M&Ms as a safety check. Gotta love that.