Inside Nelly’s rider: Wings from Hooters, towels from Walmart and tequila from all over

By Chicago 5 Min Read



Nicolas Khayat/Abaca Press/MCT

“This ain’t your granddaddy’s moonshine,” goes the slogan for Moshine — 30 percent liquor, available in peach or passion fruit and created by proud Missourian Cornell Iral Haynes Jr. Or, as you may know the 48-year-old rapper, NELLY.

Every time the front man of the St. Lunatics is booked for a concert, host venues must purchase a case of his “ready-to-pour, ready-to-party tailgate tea” and leave it in his dressing room, per the terms of his rider.

Unless, that is, said venue has a no-alcohol purchase policy — like the Illinois State Fair.

Nelly’s August appearance at the Springfield grandstand is the focus of Part 41 of Editor Jeff D’Alessio‘s ongoing series digging into the details of entertainers’ tour riders, this one obtained through the Illinois Department of Agriculture via open-records request.

— Someone sure likes his tequila. Nelly also lists the following among his dressing room must-haves: two bottles of Casamigos Tequila, one bottle of Gran Coramino Cristalino Tequila, three bottles of Don Julio 1942 Tequila and one bottle of Clase Azul Reposado Tequila, as well as two bottles of Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades Rosé champagne.

And some Red Bull.

— There is, in fact, a Hooters in Springfield, making item No. 5 on Nelly’s dressing room rider — 100 smoked party wings, plain and well done, from the restaurant chain co-founded by Dick Butkus’ Illini teammate, Lynn Stewart — easy peasy.

— Not otherwise all that picky about the brands of food and drink he consumes pre- and post-show, the three-time Grammy winner’s list of dressing room requirements also includes two medium pizzas (one just cheese, one pepperoni) and assorted hard candies.

— Plus this: three event T-shirts (sized medium, large and XL) for Nelly, DJ Trife and guest City Spud to wear onstage; a bottle of Dove Men+Care body wash; a dozen new white bath towels and a dozen-and-a-half new white wash cloths (all Walmart’s Mainstay brand); a pair of scissors (8, 9 or 10 inches); a pack of Cottonelle Ultra Fresh XL flushable wipes; Cottonelle toilet tissue; a large bluetooth speaker; and an electric fan.

— This is the part where we tell you that none of the aforementioned asks — not the wings, not the sweets, not even the Walmart towels — were approved by the Illinois Department of Agriculture, which runs the fair.

— Just 10 of the 35 items on Nelly’s dressing room list weren’t blotted out in black marker: a package of Keebler Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies; two large bags of chips; a fruit basket; 12-packs of lemonade, pink lemonade, Sprite and ginger ale; six-packs (small bottles) of pineapple, cranberry and orange juice; bottled water; a small box of Lipton tea; and a pot of coffee with cream, sugar and honey on the side.

— Also a no-go in Springfield: the fully-fueled, full-sized SUV and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van — with “competent” drivers — to transport Nelly and friends during their stay in town. Per policy, the state provides all acts with the same two 15-passenger vans but had no objections to meeting this demand, typed in bold all-caps in the rider: “AT NO TIME SHALL NELLY AND STAFF BE WITHOUT THEIR ASSIGNED GROUND TRANSPORTATION AND DRIVERS!”

— No surprise here: the artist who gave us the lyrics “It’s gettin hot in here (so hot), so take off all your clothes … I am gettin so hot, I wanna take my clothes off,” requires A/C in his dressing room, along with carpeting, lockable doors and a security guard to stand watch outside from just prior to Nelly’s arrival “until all of the artist’s equipment has been removed from said dressing room.”

— And never, ever “should there be any kind of pork or beef … in Nelly’s dressing room at any time.”

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