Basic Skills


Brown M&M's

Van Halen, in Concert

In the 1980s, Van Halen was one of the most famous rock bands in the world. Not only were they famous for their music, they were also famous for some of their eccentricities (quirky habits).

For example, whenever they went on tour, they insisted that the concert organizers provide a table with munchies, and the munchies had to include a bowl of M&Ms with all the brown M&Ms removed. That's right: No brown M&Ms!

For years, this requirement was seen as ridiculous—a good example of the special treatment that rock stars think they deserve, and get, simply because they can get away with it.

More recently, the lead singer, David Lee Roth, shed some new light on the story of the brown M&Ms. In an interview, he explained it something like this:

"Our band was the first band in the word to bring our own high-powered lights to every venue (concert hall). These lights can be dangerous if they aren't installed correctly, or if the venue does not have enough power capacity. In fact, in the early days of our 1982 world tour, several of our stage hands nearly got electrocuted, because the organizers had failed to follow our precise instructions regarding the lights.

"So that's why I put in that clause about the brown M&M's. If I went to a venue and saw that the munchies table had a bowl of M&Ms, but the brown ones had not been removed, I knew right away that the organizers weren't paying attention to details. Maybe they hadn't even read the entire contract!

"So that was a signal to me: It told me that I had better inspect the installation of the lights myself, in order to prevent a possible disaster. And if I saw that certain safety precautions had been ignored, I could threaten to cancel the concert unless these things were fixed right away."

Today, the story about the brown M&Ms is seen—not as an example of the excentricities of rock stars—but as a clever trick to catch people who aren't following instructions or paying enough attention to details.

Instructions for the Quiz

Answer the questions.