It is widespread knowledge that the Super Bowl is more than just a football game. Hell, it's more than just a league championship game. It is a cultural phenomena, virtually a national holiday in the United States. This has come to be because the Super Bowl has three distinct elements. The first, and arguably the least important, is the game itself. Then there are the commercials, though lately those have not reached the heights of years gone by. And then there is the halftime show. I know just as many people who tune in to the Super Bowl to see the halftime show as those do to watch the game. But not all halftime shows are created equal. One such halftime show has been described as one musician's proudest achievement, even though he has never performed in a halftime show himself. This is the story of how Prince's halftime show is what Dave Grohl considers his proudest moment.
Prince Covers "Best of You" at the Super Bowl
Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 4, 2007, in Miami was historic for multiple reasons. It was the first time an African American head coach was in the Super Bowl, let alone two going head-to-head. It was, therefore, also the first time an African American head coach won the Super Bowl. It was the first Super Bowl appearance and victory for Peyton Manning. And it featured what is undeniably the greatest halftime show performance of all time, by Prince.
In the pouring Miami rain, Prince ripped through song after song -- some his, some covers. There was no album promotion going on, no unfeeling slog through his greatest hits like in the halftime shows that had been happening post-Timberlake and Jackson. No, the Purple One did what he did best, by putting on a high-octane performance that focused on music and spectacle in the way that only Prince could do. Halfway through the 12-minute performance, Prince surprised everyone by launching into a cover of the Foo Fighters' "Best of You," simply because he liked the song. And it is that moment that Dave Grohl himself called his life's greatest compliment, in a piece he wrote.
"Oh my God. He did it. He actually did it. I ran to my computer, found it online and hit play. I was stunned. In shock. Flooded with emotion. As my tears hit the keyboard like the Miami rain that night, I realized that this was without a doubt my proudest musical achievement. All of those years spent in my bedroom practicing alone to Beatles records, sleeping in cold, infested squats on winter van tours across Europe, battering my drums until my hands literally bled....it all paid off in this one moment. I was watching the greatest living performer known to man sing my song to 100 million people as if it were his own (and, it goes without saying, much better than I ever could) Volumes have been written about his performance that day, as it truly was the best halftime show in history (sorry, JLO) But to me, I will always remember it as my life's greatest compliment."
This is a man who is part of the two biggest bands of recent history, has written countless hits, played on stage with members of Led Zeppelin, Queen and other legendary bands. Grohl will easily be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and it is this moment in a Super Bowl halftime show that he says is his greatest compliment. Such was the power of Prince, and such is the power of the Super Bowl halftime show.
No performance since 2007 has been able to top Prince's. Last years' LA Hip-Hop salute was perfect for that host city, and Beyonce reunited the members of Destiny's Child in 2013, but Prince's show was rarified air. This year's performer, Rihanna, has the best chance to get close. She's another mercurial performer who isn't promoting an album (we think) and who has always, unabashedly, been herself. Honestly, she might be the only reason I'm tuning in this year.
MORE: 8 Iconic Super Bowl Halftime Shows We All Forgot About
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