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The Best Things in Life Are Free: On Bono Being An A**hole and Backstage Riders

By Cindy Davis | Think Pieces | June 28, 2012 |

By Cindy Davis | Think Pieces | June 28, 2012 |

What makes celebrities different from you and me? I mean, when is that exact moment—in their own heads—that they evolve into special people who think they deserve to be treated like celebrities…or rock stars? I recently argued with a friend over her claim that Bono is an asshole; she thinks he’s a hypocrite because he claims to be helping his fellow Irishmen, yet she read he holds his companies elsewhere in order to pay lower taxes. (In fact, he’s also been accused of funneling business through Ireland for the same reason.) But I don’t think that makes Bono an asshole—as the Edge says, “Who doesn’t want to be tax-efficient?” U2 tries to do some good to offset their self-centeredness and how many of us can truly say the same? My feeling about people like Bono and say, Mick Jagger is, if a person starts out with a dream to become a rock star, there comes a point where he deserves to…be a rock star. Who can begrudge either man his iconic status? When one has such aspirations, it must be assumed that one is egocentric and looking for that outrageous lifestyle; I’m not going to begrudge the young fellow who, when asked why he wants to be a rock star says, “To get girls!” Bono is a rock star and he acts like one—I say he earned it and he deserves it. That he does anything at all for his fellow man is a bonus (plenty of stars do not); by the very nature of his career, we shouldn’t expect him to be a saint.

The funnier and more bizarre (or despicable) thing to me is when someone is more a star in his/her head than anyone else’s perception. Or when that self-aggrandizement is expressed in celebrities’ demands, as to the way they are treated or spoken to by “regular” people or people they somehow consider below themselves. At what point do you wake up and think, “Oh, the little people really shouldn’t look at me or speak directly to me”? When do you get to the point where you require “…all furniture be removed from the rooms and replaced with her own pieces that she has shipped in.” Madonna, for her current MDNA tour, “…also has a 200-person entourage that includes 30 bodyguards, personal chefs, a yoga instructor, an acupuncturist and even an on-site dry cleaner…no less than 20 international phone lines in her dressing room which is required to be draped in a special fabric and ‘filled with lilies and white and light-pink roses that have stems trimmed to precisely six inches.’” What in the world happens if those stems are six and a quarter? Does she measure them herself or does she have a special, flower-measuring assistant? While we understand that Madonna has reached some über Celebrity level, how do other backstage riders compare? Let’s take a look (and bear in mind, these are only excerpts, not entire documents).

Katie Perry:

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Lady Gaga:

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Clearly, some celebrities have the good sense to play humor into their demands:

Iggy Pop:

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One band’s delightful tom-foolery is world-renowned:

Foo Fighters (who also include coloring and activity books):

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And some of the biggest stars have the simplest demands:


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David Bowie:

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Hmm…not one request to look away from his sunglasses. Bono doesn’t seem that bad to me.

Rider information from

Cindy Davis is just a regular freak.

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