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Behind the Magic: The Story of Prince’s Super Bowl Halftime Show

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 04: Musician Prince performs during the "Pepsi Halftime Show" at Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears on February 4, 2007 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

At The Ringer, read an oral history of how Prince ruminated on and carefully selected the setlist for his legendary 12-minute Super Bowl XLI halftime show in 2007. As Alan Siegel reports, Prince did it all his way, from playing specially chosen cover songs during his concert, to upending the traditional pre-game press conference — a checkbox “requirement” of the halftime act — with a live performance before stunned journalists. Super Bowl organizers learned to their delight that you can plan for a lot of things, but you simply cannot plan for the genius of Prince.

Shelby J: “We’re thinking, ‘Are we gonna change some stuff? … Are we gonna wear tennis shoes now?’ Prince was like, ‘Don’t change nothing.’ And that was part of him teaching us and me personally to be fearless.”

Prince’s Super Bowl week was booked solid. In between a full show at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Wednesday and an appearance with Latin funk outfit Grupo Fantasma at a private party for CBS on Friday, he made time for the halftime act and national anthem singer’s customary press conference at Miami Beach Convention Center.

Mischer: When we said, “You’ll have to have a press conference. They would like to interview you,” Prince point blank said, “I don’t do interviews.”

Coplin: There were just a few things where he was like, “I’m not gonna do that.” We’re like, “We’re not gonna break the deal over this.”

Mischer: He said, “I’m just gonna play for them.” And we said “OK.”

Meglen: The run-through on Thursday, they have to tape that. Because if for some reason, you physically can’t really do the halftime show, they still have to have something to broadcast to the rest of the world, right? So they tape that one. But the whole time they’re in rehearsals, Prince never turned his guitar on, and never turned his vocal mic on, so he knew what everybody else was doing at all times.

Hayes: That’s why they shoot it at the dress rehearsal. If there’s something like a weather anomaly, then they’ll just run the footage, [and] cut it for television like it’s live. They had it all planned out. The prep stuff, it was always intense. He’s like, on everybody. He’s on the techs. He’s on us. He’s with the production. He’s out in the sound truck. It’s just crazy intense because he’s trying to cross every “t” and dot every “i.”

Read the story