Starstruck! Outrageous demands made by artistes

By Cecelia Campbell-Livingston Observer staff reporter

Sunday, September 16, 2012

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BOOKING artistes for an event often goes beyond paying the stipulated fee, which can be astronomical.

For some promoters, artiste rates are the least of their worries.

Show producer and Kool FM disc jockey Michael Barnett recalls producing two shows featuring soul superstar Gladys Knight in 1995.

He said Knight's rider request (what the artiste presents with their contracts specifying requirements for a show) stated she wanted black towels and specific instructions regarding meals.

"We had to buy them (towels) overseas as we found every other colour but black. She ordered a menu to be at the event. At the time she was a very big artiste, and we didn't want to take a chance," Barnett told the Jamaica Observer.

The food ordered cost J$65,000. Barnett remembers Knight arriving at the venue and heading straight to the National Arena's stage.

She brought the house down with her performance, went back to the limousine and drove away, not even bothering to taste the food she requested.

"The promoter had to donate most of it to charity," Barnett said.

Barnett related another experience with another American soul great, Smokey Robinson. This was in 1996 when he performed in Jamaica for the first time.

Robinson requested a 15-piece string orchestra and refused to work with a local orchestra.

"All that was separate from the band which he came with. The nearest orchestra we could find was out of Philadelphia," recounted Barnett.

He said the promoter had to purchase 15 extra tickets, which meant booking additional hotel rooms. Not surprisingly, that promoter ended up losing financially.

"Smokey gave a great show. I guess when you satisfy them, you get the best out of them," said Barnett.

Irie Jam Radio promoter Robert 'Bobby' Clarke, who operates out of New York City, has also had to deal with outrageous artiste requests.

However, he declined to identify the artistes.

"The most 'out of whack' would have to be a certain hip-hop act asking for a two-hour, hot oil massage with two sexy females prior to his performance," said Clarke.

Another involved a Jamaican dancehall artiste who needed a PlayStation 2 with the latest FiFA football game, green, seedless grapes and four bottles of an expensive French wine.

"Now in this tough economic times these requests are quickly negotiated away. In years past, the demands were stronger but after negotiations, we usually would meet some where in the middle," Clarke explained.




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