The Super Bowl halftime show comes from modest beginnings. The big game’s inaugural performance in 1967 featured the University of Arizona and Grambling State University marching bands, and a high school drill team. Now, the show has become one of the biggest events of the year and routinely draws well over 100 million viewers. Will Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz stack up? Who knows? But here are the 10 best that came before them.
Super Bowl XXII - 1988
This, of course, makes the list because it took place at Jack Murphy Stadium. Were Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones, Diana Ross, and U2 better? Definitely. But they didn’t play in San Diego. That said, we did have Chubby Checker, The Rockettes, 72 grand pianos and the SDSU marching band.
Super Bowl XXXI - 1997
This one featured the shameful and cheesy Dan Aykroyd/Jim Belushi/John Goodman version of the Blues Brothers as headliners. But it makes the list because ZZ Top also rocked “Tush” and the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, brought the heat with “I Got You” and “Sex Machine.”
Super Bowl VI - 1972
This would never happen today. But it makes me feel good knowing that the NFL once booked the Queen of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald, for a “Tribute to Louis Armstrong” halftime show.
Super Bowl XXXIX - 2005
Sir Paul McCartney’s four-song set included “Drive My Car,” “Get Back,” “Live and Let Die” and “Hey Jude.”
Super Bowl XXXVIII - 2004
I’m not sure if the performance by Janet Jackson, P. Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock and Justin Timberlake was Top 10 worthy, but this one makes the list because of its controversy. Ms. Jackson’s infamous wardrobe malfunction led to water-cooler debates for days.
Super Bowl XLII - 2008
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers delivered a career-spanning four-song set that started with “American Girl” and ended with “Runnin’ Down a Dream.”
Super Bowl XLIV - 2010
The massive Super Bowl audience got an incredible performance when The Who dropped this five-song hammer. I mean, if you’re not pumped-up by Roger Daltrey wailing through “Baba O’Riley” with 100 million other people watching/singing along, I don’t know what to say.
Super Bowl XLVII - 2013
Opening with Vince Lombardi’s “Excellence” speech, Beyoncé delivered on that promise with flawless singing and choreography, proving she’s one of the hardest working people in show business. The two-song Destiny’s Child reunion at the end was just icing on the cake.
Super Bowl XLI - 2007
Prince isn’t the easiest superstar to like, but he’s untouchable in the performance department. His guitar playing alone that day had more mouths open than all of the seven-layer dip on the globe. The dominating set included a wicked version of “All Along the Watchtower” and it ended with “Purple Rain.” Would stand as the best if not for one man at the No. 1 spot.
Super Bowl XXVII - 1993
The King of Pop on the world’s biggest stage at the Rose Bowl? How can you top it? The answer is: You can’t. Would have been cool if “Don’t Stop Until You Get Enough” was included in Michael Jackson’s five-song set, but beggars can’t be choosers. And hey, he did rock “Billie Jean.”