Revisiting the ZZ Top Super Bowl Halftime Show

The Super Bowl is one of the most watched events around the world. Millions of people tune in every year to watch one of the biggest games in sport. It consists of the two top teams in the NFL who make it through the regular season, followed by the Play Offs, to get to the Super Bowl game, where they battle it out to claim the Vince Lombardi trophy.

But whilst many people tune in to watch the game, or to check out if their NFL betting lines are coming in, many don’t join in for any of that at all. They tune in to watch the Super Bowl Halftime Show. The most watched part of the Super Bowl. That’s because even people who have no interest in American Football whatsoever decide to see who has graced the stage each year.

It is one of the biggest events in music history. And sees some of the top artists from around the world appear with some of their most memorable performances. Sometimes for good reasons, sometimes not so good (the Janet Jackson nipple slip).

One such performer who has graced the Super Bowl Halftime Show is American rock band ZZ Top. Formed in Houston, Texas in 1969, the band consisted of vocalist and guitarist Billy Gibbons, drummer Frank Beard, and vocalist and bassist Dusty Hill. Sadly, Hill passed away earlier this year on 28th July 2021, so we thought we’d take a trip back in time to reminisce about the band’s performance.

ZZ Top Super Bowl

It was way back in 1997 on January 26th, when ZZ Top appeared at Super Bowl XXXI, which took place at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. The show had the theme of Blues Brothers Bash, and it went down in history as one of the best Super Bowl Shows, setting the standards for all the shows that followed. Some of which would meet, better or fall far below them.

The show was a full on production for Super Bowl XXXI and kicked off as a fictional news bulletin, which was presented by Catherine Crier. She announced that Dan Akroyd’s Blue Brothers character, Elwood J. Blues, had escaped from Joliet State Prison. He then joined with original Blues Brother James Belushi (Brother Zee) as well as John Goodman (Mighty Mack) to form the Blues Brothers Band. Coming out to perform songs Everybody Needs Somebody to Love and Soul Man.

After they had finished up, James Brown joined them on stage. And only as James Brown can, he comes on wearing, and more importantly pulls off, a pink satin suit. He then went on to sing his hit song I Got You (I Feel Good). It went down extremely well, with much of the crowd and many people at home, jumping to their feet and dancing to the infectious beat.

That’s when ZZ Top came in. Riding onto the field and the stage on motorcycles looking badass. They rocked out, performing their classic hits Tush and Legs, before everyone came together and performed Gimme Some Lovin. It was an excellent way to close out the show.

ZZ Top Halftime Show

Strangely though, at the time, many critics didn’t rate the show at all. Whilst they admitted the performances of James Brown and ZZ Top were excellent, they felt it was a massive sellout to include the Blues Brothers in there, who they state ruined the show. In fact some places rated it as one of the worst Super Bowl shows of all time. With Rolling Stone rating it as low as 25th out of 32 Super Bowl performances.

However, over time, it has become more appreciated. It was the perfect celebration, offering a good variety of music with excellent entertainment value. It really did have something for everyone, and the energy all performers gave is what the Super Bowl Halftime Show is all about. It captivated the American Spirit. And over the years, we’ve seen many worse shows that have helped bump the ZZ Top performance up the rankings somewhat.

And for those interested, Super Bowl XXXI was played by the 1996 Season American Football Conference champions, the New England Patriots, and the National Football Conference champions, the Greenbay Packers. Going into the game, it was the Packers who were favorites, but the end of the first quarter saw the Patriots take a 14-10 lead.

The Packers would then come back in the second quarter, scoring 17 points to the Patriots 0, giving them the lead. Before also dominating in the third quarter after the ZZ Top Halftime Show. The fourth quarter was a stalemate, with neither side scoring or conceding any points. And that would see the Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl game 21-35. It would be their third time winning the Super Bowl, but their last for a while, as they didn’t manage the feat again until 2011.