Few performances during the intermission of a sporting event have come close to feeling like a truly artistic display, but one stands out above them all. Fourteen years ago today, Prince delivered the most iconic Super Bowl halftime show we have ever seen. On Feb. 4, 2007, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, amidst a torrential downpour in true Floridian fashion, Prince brought down the house.
In an interview years later with NFL.com, Bruce Rodgers, the production designer for the 2007 Super Bowl halftime show, told the story. He described the storm that day as “a scene from Moby Dick,” with the palm trees bending and swaying and the rain unrelenting. “We’re sitting in a truck, and I’m sitting behind (NBC Producer) Don Mischer, and I remember Don said ‘put me on the phone with Prince.’ Don said ‘now, I want you to know it’s raining,’ and Prince said ‘yes, it’s raining.’ Don said ‘and are you OK?’ Prince said, ‘Can you make it rain harder.’
His set list included covers of “Proud Mary,” “All Along the Watchtower,” “We Will Rock You,” “Best of You” as well as his classics “Let’s Go Crazy,” “1999,” “Baby I’m a Star,” and of course “Purple Rain.”
Eleven years to the day from that unforgettable purple-rained performance, and two years after Prince passed away from a fentanyl overdose, Justin Timberlake paid tribute to the legend at a Super Bowl halftime show. That Super Bowl, Super Bowl LII, was played in the newly built U.S. Bank Stadium in the hometown of Prince, Minneapolis. In that performance, Timberlake used video from that night in Miami, showing the everlasting visual of the silhouette of Prince playing his guitar cast against a billowing sheet.
Man, it would have been incredible for Minnesota fans to be there to cheer on their Vikings in their home stadium that year (too soon?). Take some time for yourself and go watch the video of Prince’s Super Bowl performance. It was more than a halftime show, it was an artistic endeavor that far transcended football. The image of him playing “Purple Rain” with the lighting shooting up through the rain in the midst of a downpour is an image that I will never forget.