Ellen Weinstein

King Solomon built the First Temple in Jerusalem and was known throughout the land for his wisdom.

David Lee Roth fronted the rock band Van Halen and was known throughout the land for his prima-donna excess.

What could these two men possibly have had in common? Well, both were Jewish; both got a lot of girls; and both wrote the lyrics to a No. 1 pop song ("Jump" in Mr. Roth's case and, in Solomon's, several verses from Ecclesiastes that appeared in the Byrds' 1965 hit "Turn! Turn! Turn"). But most improbably, they both dabbled in game theory, as seen in classic stories about their clever strategic thinking.

Early in Solomon's reign, two women came to him with a dilemma. They lived together—they were prostitutes by trade—and within the space of a few days had each given birth to a baby boy. One child had died, and now both women claimed the surviving baby as her own.
"Fetch me a sword," Solomon said. "Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other."

One woman embraced his solution. But the other begged Solomon not to hurt the baby and give it to her rival instead. Solomon promptly ruled in her favor, figuring that the real mother would rather give up her child than see it die.
GAME THEORISTS: David Lee Roth stipulated 'ABSOLUTELY NO' brown M&M's in Van Halen's touring contract. Redferns/Getty Images

As clever as that was, David Lee Roth may have been a bit cleverer—according, at least, to Mr. Roth himself. Here is how he tells the story in a Vimeo video. By the early 1980s, Van Halen had become one of the biggest rock bands in history. Their touring contract carried a 53-page rider that laid out technical and security specs as well as food and beverage requirements. The "Munchies" section demanded potato chips, nuts, pretzels and "M & M's (WARNING: ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN ONES)."

Van Halen's live show boasted a colossal stage, booming audio and spectacular lighting. All this required a great deal of structural support, electrical power and the like. Thus the "the reality is quite different."