His Royal Badness has left us too soon. Prince is gone at the age of 57, and because of his famous protection of his massive catalog of recordings, there’s not much of his work at your fingertips online unless you’ve already bought all of it (though trust me, I am mainlining Sign O The Times right now). There are certain memories out there, though, including the time he shredded at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and of course, the time he made a Super Bowl crowd kneel at his feet during a torrential downpour in Miami on February 4, 2007.
It doesn’t rain at Super Bowls, but it did that night. It rained hard, and Prince was set to play on a slippery stage with four different electric guitars, a full band and a pair of dancers in very high heels. Organizers were concerned, but according to production designer Bruce Rodgers, Prince wasn’t. When the production team called him to ask him if he’d be OK performing in the rain, he responded like this:
“Can you make it rain harder?”
Then the Purple One took the stage and delivered an improbably perfect performance, defying the elements with his funky brilliance. He played hits like “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Baby I’m a Star,” then punctuated them with covers of “Proud Mary,” “All Along the Watchtower” and “The Best of You.” Finally, he brought the house down with a white-hot rendition of “Purple Rain,” complete with purple neon lights and his Love Symbol guitar. Super Bowl Halftime Shows are about spectacle, not music, but Prince was always about the Music, and that night he had a soaking wet crowd—a crowd that otherwise might’ve just been distracted by their nachos—in the palm of his hand. I was watching on a tiny TV in a house in rural Texas, and even I got chills when I heard thousands of people singing along to close the show. It is, without question, the greatest halftime show performance in Super Bowl history.
Thanks for that, Prince. Punch a higher floor.