On This Day: Garth Brooks Belts National Anthem at XXVII in 1993

by Katie Maloney

Twenty-eight years ago today country superstar, Garth Brooks took the stage at Rose Bowl stadium to perform the National Anthem for Super Bowl XXVII.

Brooks performed the song flawlessly along with Actress Marlee Matlin who performed the song in American Sign Language. During his performance, Brooks was decked out in full 90s country garb including a paint-splattered red, white and blue shirt. The country legend performed in front of the entire stadium as well as 91 million home viewers. However, Brooks almost didn’t get on stage that day.

Garth Brook’s performs the National Anthem for Super Bowl XXVII

Garth Brooks Almost Refused To Perform For Super Bowl XXVII

Most fans remember the event as a wonderfully performed National Anthem before the football game. But according to former NFL executive director Don Weiss’s book, The Making of the Super Bowl: The Inside Story of the World’s Greatest Sporting Event, Brooks had a heated debate with producers before the show and almost didn’t perform.

Long before the game, Brooks filmed a music video for his song “We Shall Be Free.” He recorded the song in response to the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, California in 1992. Brooks wanted to debut the video before the game. However, NBC executives refused because some of the video’s images were too disturbing. The video included clips of the Ku Klux Klan, cross and flag burnings, war scenes, riots, and natural disasters. When Brooks learned that producers refused to screen his video, he walked out of the stadium 45 minutes before kickoff.

Brooks had denied the network’s requests to pre-record his National Anthem performance. So, when he left, producers scrambled to find a last-minute replacement. They confirmed Jon Bon Jovi, who was attending the game. Brooks and the producers argued for a bit before Brooks ultimately won. For the first time in Super Bowl history, producers delayed kickoff so the network could screen the music video. Since then, the network requires all performers to pre-record their National Anthem performances.

During an interview, former Super Bowl music director Ricky Minor talked about the decision to require performers to pre-record the song.

“That’s the right way to do it,” said Minor. “There’s too many variables to go live. I would never recommend any artist go live because the slightest glitch would devastate the performance.”

If you’re hoping for more country music during this year’s Super Bowl, then you’re in luck. Country superstar, Eric Church will perform the National Anthem along with Jazmine Sullivan for Super Bowl LV on February 7.