On the eve of Super Bowl LVII in 2023, fans were discussing the best halftime show in its history. Singer Rihanna was scheduled to perform, after previously turning down the offer in 2019.
One performer constantly ranked as giving the all-time best performance: Prince, who performed at Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 4, 2007. On Vulture's weekly culture podcast "Into It," critic Brian Moylan said, "He killed it. He's locked in the top spot forever." In his rankings, Rolling Stone Contributing Editor Rob Sheffield wrote, "Total mastery. Total cool. Total Prince."
While remembering his performance, videos were also spreading online claiming that during his news conference for the show, Prince played a show for reporters instead of answering questions. We found the claim to be true.
Since tomorrow is Rihanna's presser for her Super Bowl halftime show let's remember when Prince did his and instead of answering questions he busted out a 12 minute show for the media pic.twitter.com/wDEc4jBtRx
— Wu-Tang is for the Children (@WUTangKids) February 9, 2023
In an oral history that The Ringer posted about his halftime show, Prince said he didn't do press interviews, and that he was "just gonna play for them" when told journalists wanted to talk to him, according to Don Mischer, the halftime show's executive producer.
On the Thursday before the show, Prince and several performers walked onto the stage after Mischer introduced them to the crowd, which included journalists. Prince was wearing a guitar; a performer who walked in before him was holding a trombone. "We hope we don't rock your ears too much," Prince said when he reached the microphone. "Contrary to rumor, I'd like to take a few questions right now."
Someone in the crowd asked, "Prince, how do you feel about performing …?" He didn't let the reporter finish the question, letting a riff on his guitar fall as he turned away from the crowd. He then led the band in playing "Johnny B. Goode," a rock song first written and recorded by Chuck Berry.
He played two other songs for the crowd, "Anotherloverholenyohead" from the movie "Under the Cherry Moon" and "Get on the Boat" from his 2006 album "3121."
"Prince was just a master of that kind of thing — generating interest and doing something different — and it was always a lot of fun," said Morris Hayes, Prince musical director and keyboardist. "That's what I liked about him. He wasn't afraid, so he just tried stuff. And it just worked."