Ridiculous demands made by top African musicians

For many celebrities, the bounty of fame extends beyond having loads of money and the adoration of millions of fans.

Some of these top stars do not sign any performance or appearance contract before they are assured of the most luxurious conditions, right from how they travel. While some demands may appear usual, especially for A-list celebrities, others are outrageous and ridiculous.

 They also make sure they have their favourite things waiting at their destinations, all enabled by a “rider” — a list of demands that a venue or concert organiser must meet to secure the given artiste’s signature for a performance.

A rider can be a technical or a hospitality one.

 For many artistes, riders are a sign that they’ve finally made it as a brand. No longer do they have to pay for their own drinks, flights, meals or hotels. Now they can demand that the promoter provides a bottle of the most expensive cognac or single malt whisky or even a pet monkey in their dressing room if they so wish.

The hospitality rider list requests or demands the comfort of the star and their team during the period of the performance while a technical rider specifies the types of equipment to be used, the staff to be provided and other arrangements directly relating to the performance.

 A number of celebrities try to keep their riders fairly simple: some water, a room to change, simple meals for themselves and their crew — and they are good to go.

 However, there are those who take full advantage of having promoters contractually obligated to give them whatever they want and when they want it.

From American star Justin Timberlake’s ridiculous request to have doorknobs disinfected every two hours, Beyoncé demanding her dressing room is kept at 78 degrees, with heavily seasoned chicken legs, to Justin Bieber’s 10 luxury sedans, a massage table and a private jet on standby for any of his travel desires, the list of some of these bizarre demands is mind boggling.

When American singer Antony Hamilton visited Kenya for his performance at the Stanbic Yetu Festival in Nairobi last month, booking agent Brandon Kamau of Hurricane Entertainment was left dumbfounded by the extent of his rider.

“I have booked many artistes in Kenya but Antony Hamilton’s rider had some of the most outrageous demands I have ever come across in this business. Hamilton landed with a team of six — a manager, a videographer, photographer among other close associates. He demanded to be chauffeured around in three black SUVs (sports utility vehicles), all tinted.

“We also provided him with three bodyguards. In every of those SUVs, there had to be a bottle of Hennessy VSOP cognac or a Maclan whiskey at all times. For non-alcoholic drinks, we provided 24 bottles of 250ml drinking water, specifically Keringet,” said Brandon.

 Hamilton flew to Kenya on a first class ticket while some of his crew members flew on business class. He was booked at the five-star Sankara Hotel.

Musicians Diamond Platnumz (left) Burna Boy and Davido.

“His demand was that whatever five-star we book him in, it had to be the very last floor of that hotel and make sure it’s not accessible to anyone who is not on his team,” said Brandon.

The 51-year-old also demanded meals to be provided three times to him and his crew before he went on stage. Every meal had to be accompanied by Devil’s Juice drink.

This bug of atrocious riders has also bitten the African continent as top performing acts compete to be at par with their Western counterparts.

Nigerian Afro-beat stars Burna Boy, Wizkid and Davido, and bongo flava sensation Diamond Platnumz are currently some of the African celebrities with interesting riders. As a standard requirement for any promoter or event organiser seeking to book these celebrities even before negotiations progress, is a private jet.

 “They may seem obnoxious but riders are really important. They show the value of an artiste. Every professional artiste who takes his craft seriously has a rider, including a few Kenyan acts like Sauti Sol, Nyashinski, Nandy and Otile Brown,” notes Daniel Tunde,  an artist .

When Davido’s hyped ‘Nairobi Show’ failed to happen in May, other than his hefty performance fee of $300,000 (Sh35 million), which the organiser couldn’t raise within the grace period given by the singer’s management, little-known event management firm 2icentertainment was also not willing to meet his demands.

Whenever booked for performance in foreign destinations, the son of Nigerian billionaire Adedeji Adeleke uses either of his father’s two private jets — a Bombardier Global Express 6000 worth $62 million or a Bombardier Challenger 605 acquired in 2018 for $35 million.

The Express 6000 bought by Adeleke in 2020 has a capacity of 19 passengers, while the Challenger has a capacity of 12 people. Davido travels with between 15 and 18 staffers.

They include his band of at least five people and a deejay, three bodyguards or more, his lawyer and manager.

Had 2icentertainment managed to book Davido for the show by raising the performance fee, they still would have needed to settle more bills once the singer and his crew touched down at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

For his stay, Davido prefers a four- to seven-star hotel and gets a suite all for himself paid by the host.

 During his last visit to Kenya in 2018, he and his team stayed at Nairobi’s luxurious The Tribe Hotel; with the host paying Sh35,000 for his suite per night. His crew of 13 on average paid Sh15,000 per night.

Ever since Nigerian superstar Burna Boy became an international “big boy” performing in sold-out concerts in the US and UK as well as collaborating with a number of international artistes, the likes of English singer Ed Sheeran and rapper Stormzy, acquiring his services is no longer something many organisers, particularly in Africa, can afford. This picture is best captured on his rider seen by Lifestyle.

The last time Burna Boy performed in Kenya was December 2019 when he left many revellers disappointed after he showed up at the venue of the NRGWave festival in the wee hours of the concert.

Booking him then was affordable. Flying him on a business class ticket was less expensive than it would cost to have him now for a show in Kenya.

Unlike those previous visits, to bring Burna Boy back to the country for a show, an organiser would first have to part with a performance fee of $500,000 (Sh59 million).

With that out of the way, the organiser would have to book Burna Boy a 13-seater challenger jet.

 “Private jet to be vetted by management team prior to booking,” the star’s hospitality rider states.

Upon arrival at the airport, the ‘Kilometer’ hitmaker is to be picked by a convoy of five vehicles, a Sprinter bus, a van and three SUVs. The transportation should be available to the artiste for the duration of the trip.

 For accommodation, Burna Boy stays at a four- or five-star hotel. The hotel should have reserved a smoking executive suite, two junior suites, one deluxe king room and six double standard rooms with big mirrors.

The hotel should also have a green room in which he and his crew can relax when not performing. The green room should be made exclusive and should also have a smoking chamber.

“The security room should be on the same floor as the artist’s room. Hotel to be vetted by management team prior to booking,” the rider also states.

 Meals should be provided three times a day in all the 10 rooms and should typically have on the menu jollof rice, plantain, four options of fried fish, seabass, salmon, among others. Chicken, fried yam, seafood, and salad should also be factored in.

His dressing room should at all times have 12  bottles of still and carbonated spring water, eight ginger ales, six sprites, six Pepsi sodas, fresh grapes, strawberries, pineapples, mangoes, watermelons, three bottles of Veuve Cliqout Champagne, and one bottle each of Hennessey XO cognac, Jack Daniels whiskey, white wine, preferably a Chardonnay or Chablis, six black face towels and four black bath towels.

Burna Boy travels separately from his band. The jet is only meant for him,  his manager and close associates.

For his band, the host will have to book 14 flight tickets in consultation with Burna Boy’s management.

 The Nigerian star’s band’s dressing room should be provided with 24 bottles of carbonated and still water, 12  ginger ales, eight Sprites, eight Pepsi sodas, a bottle of Hennessy VSOP, Jameson whiskey, 14 black face towels and 12 black bath towels.

As of July last year, Tanzania’s Diamond Platnumz raised his performance fee to between $70,000 to 100,000 (Sh8.3 million to Sh12 million)  and so did his hospitality rider change. The singer no longer takes business class ticket flights for shows, and only uses a private jet.

The revelations were made by his manager and business associate Sallam SK during an interview with Wasafi TV.

Sallam also noted that other than the performance fees, event organisers also have to provide three SUV for his transportation and cover for meals and his accommodation in a five-star hotel throughout his trip.

Early this month, Diamond performed at Azimio la Umoja’s final campaign rally at the Kasarani Stadium.

The singer arrived in Kenya on board a private jet with his six-year old daughter Princess Tiffah from South Africa and flew back to Johannesburg via the same means after his 10-minute performance at Kasarani.

 Former Kenge Kenge band manager Issac Gem agrees with these demands, insisting riders are in important as a marketing tool for artistes.

 “We performed a lot in the Western countries and our rider too had more or less the same demands. Food had to be standard, we had to be provided with 24 bottles of water at any given time. A bottle of whiskey, 12 beers, 12 face towels and decent accommodations. Because we travelled with traditional drums, we also insisted on being provided for with heater blows to heat the drums two hours before the show, as you know most of those western countries are always cold,” he says about the band whose performance revolved around the orutu — a one-stringed fiddle popular in the Luo community — and drums.

For this band, and many other stars, the show could not go on if some strict conditions were not met.

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