Jack White’s Guacamole Rider: Singer Responds To Controversy

Jack White’s “guacamole rider” has been the subject of some controversy since the University of Oklahoma leaked a document showing his requirements to play at a venue. The story has been shared as an example of the “diva” attitude of performers, but now White is speaking out about the reaction.

Jack White was scheduled to perform at the University of Oklahoma, and, as musical artists commonly do, he included his contract rider — a set of requirements that must be carried out if he’s to perform at the venue. Sometimes these riders can look rather particular. One particularly astonishing example is Van Halen’s M&M rule: they won’t perform if the venue fails to provide a bowl of M&M’s with all the brown candies removed. However, Entrepreneur calls it a “valuable lesson for business” — because there’s a solid reason. A venue that failed to follow that line in the contract rider may have also ignored other requirements, including stage specifications that make it possible to perform the concert safely.

White’s rider is hardly the first of its kind, and it is unlikely that it is among the most complex. However, it stands out, not least because it calls for a specific recipe for guacamole to be provided, and to be made at a fairly specific time before the performance.

Though White’s manager has already released a statement (below), the tales of the singer as a “diva” with excessive demands have carried on.

“The most important function of a rider is that it lays out optimal technical specifications to ensure the audience has the best experience possible. For that, Jack hires a team of very qualified touring professionals who write the rider and attempt to execute a professional and pleasant experience for all involved.

Part of that is making sure that the tour personnel of about 30 people plus the local venue staff are fed. Contrary to what some believe, Jack doesn’t write the rider nor make demands about his favorite snacks that must be in his dressing room.”

It seems White didn’t expect the controversy to endure so long, but with the story still being spread over a week later, he posted a statement on his website. Jack’s whole letter can be read here, but below are some important points.

The first point is that apparently the guacamole isn’t even Jack White’s recipe. Jack says his tour manager handles that, and not only does Jack ask for nothing himself, but he’s never eaten the dish.

“first off, this is none of your business, but i have no specific demands in my dressing room. i know i could ask for lots of things but i actually don’t ask for ANYTHING. i take with me what i need, and that ain’t much. anything on the rider is for the band and the crew. this “guacamole recipe” is my hilarious tour managers inside joke with the local promoters, it’s his recipe, not mine. it’s just something to break up the boredom, seeing who can make it best. though i wouldn’t know because i’ve never had it. [sic]”

Next, Jack makes it clear he’s not trying to censor anyone.

“i fully believe in the freedom of the press (though the supposed search for truth from the press requires microscopes and a some morton salt), and i also defend anyone’s right to free speech (just look at my lack of respect for grammar in this letter and tell me i’m not for communicating freely) and i defend the right to free information in regards to public funds, but never in my 20 years of playing shows has my contract and tour rider been published in the paper that i recall. [sic]”

White addresses rumors that he’ll never play in Oklahoma again.

“not true. i love oklahoma, that’s why i booked this show instead of playing chicago or atlanta for four times as much money. ask around in tulsa. i’ve been there at least three times on these last two albums. i love it there. [sic]”

White also addressed the story that he berated the crowd.

“no. sorry, didn’t happen. i made jokes about the paper publishing that info, so which of us is thin skinned? they have freedom of speech but i don’t? at my show? ok. i guess the rules change for different people. the crowd were amazing and we played for 2 and a half hours that night. [sic]”

As for stories of people being told to delete digital photos, Jack says as follows.

“i dont know much about that but it must be a miscommunication about what was public property at the college and the contract we had with the university to let us do our work in peace; but i’ll give you an example, if someone working at a theater we played at started taking pictures of all of our workers and our gear they’d probably get fired by their theater or promoter. [sic]”

White also hints that the no-bananas line in the rider could be due to an allergy, though he points out that this would be nobody’s business and adds that, if someone were to disclose that information, there would follow “a hundred articles about bananas.”

White’s last lines sum up his entire position.

“i think that’s everything, can i go back to making music now? no? ok. crochet it is [sic]”

Jack White’s guacamole rider may go down as a legend with the fan base, but it’s clear that White would rather focus on the music, have the crowd do the same, and let the tour manager take care of the details.

[Photo by Jason Merrit/Getty Images]