By John Byrne
7:44 AM CDT, July 26, 2013
Legendary rock music partyer Robert Plant belted out "Black Dog" from the stage at Taste of Chicago this month, but his deal with the city indicates a backstage scene more in line with a restaurant's blue plate special than the rambunctious excesses of his Led Zeppelin youth.
The singer's contract rider requested an assortment of hot sandwiches, no-fat yogurt, a tray of fresh vegetables with dip and tuna fish salad — "light on the mayo please."
Plant received $125,000 for his July 12 set at the Petrillo Music Shell, making him the top earner among the acts at the five-day Taste.
The bacchanalian potential for the group, officially known as Robert Plant Presents the Sensational Space Shifters, was curtailed by the city's refusal to provide alcohol to Taste acts. So Plant's usual request of six bottles of wine and 42 bottles of beer for the band and the crew went unfilled. At least by the city.
Robin Thicke collected $75,000 for a Thursday R&B set in which he elicited some thrusting dance moves from Mayor Rahm Emanuel that became an Internet sensation. The city declined to provide Thicke with the "well-iced" Heineken he usually has in his dressing room along with a bottle of Jack Daniel's, a bottle of vodka and two bottles of chardonnay.
And singer Jill Scott dropped her usual requirement that her dressing room have black "pipe and drapes thru out the entire room." Scott was paid $100,000, according to her contract.
In all, the city paid out $562,500 to 10 performers during Taste. Two kiddie acts, Chloe and Halle and IM5, were not paid for their Saturday morning performances.
This year's Taste music budget was lower than the $655,000 the city paid in 2012 to a lineup that included Jennifer Hudson and Death Cab for Cutie. Nobody among the 2013 performers got as much as the $175,000 Hudson pulled down or the $150,000 Death Cab received.
But officials with the city Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events said the $25 tickets for the reserved seats at Petrillo sold better this year than the lackluster returns in 2012, with four of the five headlining acts selling out.
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