Jerry Garcia’s 1976 Concert Rider Was Absurdly Specific

It does sound pretty delicious, though

Jerry Garcia
Musicians Jerry Garcia and Carlos Santana pose for a portrait in 1976 in Mill Valley, California.
Richard Creamer/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

You may recall a few years ago, when a Van Halen rider went viral for its very specific stipulation about M&Ms. Plenty of musicians have made specific requests in their riders. (While my own experience booking live music is not that wide-ranging, I will say that I’ve seen a lot of “no pizza” requests on artists’ riders over the years.) But when it comes to a granular level of specificity, a 1976 tour rider from the Jerry Garcia Band might well be the apex of the form.

In 1976, the Jerry Garcia Band was but one year into its existence. In November of that year, they played a show at UC-Davis — and it’s from there that this rider hails. While some of its requests are fairly standard — including “good French wine,” a carton of cigarettes and cases of various brands of soda — it’s the preparation of food and coffee where this rider heads to the proverbial next level.

The rider specifies that the coffee be “Sumatra, Celebes, Jamaica High Mountain, Mocha-Java, or Colombian beans” — and stresses that it “must be made via the drip method, not electric percolator.” The rider also requests that the concert promoters provide a meal for band and crew, and it’s here that the presence of all caps suggests an ongoing point of contention for the group.

“FRESH FOODS PLEASE!! NOT PROCESSED,” the rider states. In the same section, it also stresses that “good cheeseburgers” be available — and, really, the presence of “good” before several of the items suggests a band haunted by having received terrible food before a show too many times in the past.

Several songs from this concert have made their way to a live compilation, suggesting that the food that night met the band’s needs — or, at least, that it came close enough for rock ‘n’ roll.

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