Country Throwback: Charley Pride Was First Solo Artist to Sing National Anthem at Super Bowl

by Chris Haney

In this edition of Country Throwback, we’re taking a look back at country legend Charley Pride and his influential National Anthem performance at the 1974 Super Bowl.

Pride is well-known for his groundbreaking work in country music. However, many don’t know about his Super Bowl performance and the road he paved for other country artists.

In 1974, the NFL was still a relatively new league following its merger with the AFL in 1966. By January 13, 1974, the league was only playing its eighth Super Bowl to determine that year’s NFL champion. The Miami Dolphins made their third straight appearance in the big game. The Minnesota Vikings ended up losing to the Dolphins 24-7 in Super Bowl VIII, but Pride’s pregame performance also lit up the stadium to the fans’ delight

Pride received the honor of getting to sing the National Anthem before Super Bowl VIII. In addition, the singer made history with his performance. He became the first-ever country musician to perform the song at the Super Bowl. Likewise, he also became the first-ever solo artist of any genre to sing the National Anthem before the championship game.

The country icon opened the door for numerous other country artists after his pregame performance. Since 1974, the Super Bowl has asked five more country singers to perform the National Anthem. They include Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, The Chicks, Carrie Underwood, and Luke Bryan.

Pride broke barriers that year with his Super Bowl performance and continued to until his recent death. Take a minute to watch the country legend sing the National Anthem at Super Bowl VIII below.

Charley Pride Passes Away at the Age of 86

On Saturday, country music star Charley Pride died following complications related to his positive COVID-19 diagnosis.

In the 1960s, the artist broke barriers as the first Black country musician to become a true star in the genre. During his long career, Pride earned 29 No. 1 hits out of his 67 singles. In 1971, he won the CMA Entertainer of the Year award and also won three Grammy Awards during his career. He was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his work throughout his decades-long career.

Most recently, the 2020 CMA Awards honored Pride with the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions to country music.