The Forgotten History of Super Bowl Halftime Shows
The strange and wonderful history of the Super Bowl Halftime show.
The American Super Bowl – where the biggest names in American football collide with the biggest acts in entertainment on one spectacular Sunday every year. Over one hundred million fans across the globe will be on the edge of their seats, equally excited to see which team emerges victorious and watch the much-hyped spectacle due to take place when the halftime whistle blows.
At RHA we’re obviously big fans of music and, along with the millions of others, we’ll be watching the entertainment. Until then, we’ve made do by looking at the halftime history and past Super Bowl performers.
The halftime show first appeared at American Football games in the 1920s. When, instead of returning to the locker rooms, Ohio’s Oorang Indians chose to parade Airedale Terriers during the halftime pause. Why dogs? The owner of the Oorang Indians, Walter Lingo, was a proud dog breeder and used the lull during halftime to advertise his pooches. In fact, Lingo started his team for the sole purpose of selling more of his prized dogs. His business plan was solid. A franchising licence from the NFL cost only $100, while each of Lingo’s dogs sold for $150. He even cut costs by including a clause in the players’ contracts stipulating they must look after the pampered pups.
By the time the first Super Bowl was underway in 1967, the halftime show had far outgrown its humble beginnings. Operating under the somewhat ambiguous theme of “Super Sights and Sounds”, organisers treated the crowd at the inaugural Super Bowl to a truly unique spectacle. The show was ushered in with the combined force of Arizona and Grambling state marching, a western-style gunfight and the timed release of 300 pigeons and 10, 000 balloons. Naturally, this was followed with two pilots taking to the skies in real life jetpacks, known then as “rocket belts”, soaring 60 feet into the air before returning to the pitch. Jetpacks appeared again at the 1985 Super Bowl. The pigeons? Not so much.
Super Bowl I: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8TxizeSzAU
Many of the Super Bowl’s half time shows have centred round a theme, from tributes to Mardi Gras to Disney’s very own “It’s a Small World” and Indiana Jones. However, the less spoken about 1995’s Indiana Jones and The Temple of the Forbidden Eye performance, the better. From setting cast members on fire to bizarrely ending with a rendition of the Lion King’s “Can you feel the love tonight?”, this halftime show is not considered one of the Super Bowl’s standout moments.
Indiana Jones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjXSqaSmhh4
With 51 years of world-class sport and 51 incredible halftime shows - the Super Bowl is not short of celebrity performances. From New Kids on the Block to the Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga, many artists have braved the stage. However, it was the artist known as Prince who stood up to the forces of nature to deliver his now iconic solo halftime show. Prince treated the millions of viewers to a medley including Queen’s “We will rock you”, Bob Dylan’s “All along the watch tower” and Foo Fighters’ “Best of You”, atop a gigantic neon Prince symbol. He finished the show with one of his most critically acclaimed performances of Purple Rain, made even more moving because it rained for the entire concert, the only time it has rained at the Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl airs this Sunday at 11:30pm GMT and the halftime show will be headlined by pop group Maroon 5.