Garth Brooks Once Delayed The Super Bowl After Walking Out When They Wouldn’t Play His Music Video

Garth Brooks
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Imagine forcing the NFL to delay the biggest sporting event of the year so that you could show your music video instead.

The Super Bowl is big money, not only for the NFL but for advertisers, television networks and sponsors alike. The whole event is a carefully-choreographed spectacle that rakes in billions of dollars every year. And usually it goes off without a hitch.

But in 1993, there was one major hitch – and his name was Garth Brooks.

By that year, Garth was already one of the biggest stars in country music. He had three #1 albums under his belt, and 10 singles that had topped the charts. And he was setting the live music world on fire with his electric shows that were more reminiscent of rock ‘n roll bands than the country acts of the time.

So Garth seemed like a natural choice to sing the Star Spangled Banner ahead of Super Bowl XXVII.

The game between the Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys was at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, less than a year after the LA riots that had broken out after a jury acquitted four police officers accused of brutally beating Rodney King during an arrest.

In response to the riots, Garth had released “We Shall Be Free,” the first single from his 1992 album The Chase. And in September of 1992, Garth released a star-studded music video for the song which imagines a world free of oppression.

But the video also featured some violent imagery, including flag burnings, riots, the KKK, war and cross burnings.

And according to former NFL Executive Director Don Weiss’ book, The Making of the Super Bowl: The Inside Story of the World’s Greatest Sporting Event, Garth wanted them to play it before the Super Bowl.

He thought the big audience for the game was the perfect platform for his message of hope, so Garth demanded that NBC run the video ahead of their broadcast of the game. But the network decided that the video was too controversial, and declined Garth’s request.

But Garth wasn’t going to take no for an answer, and less an hour before the game kicked off, he walked out of the stadium in protest.

He had also denied producers’ requests to pre-record his national anthem performance (apparently Garth had a different stance on lip-syncing back then than he did during his 2017 CMA Awards performance), which left organizers scrambling to find a national anthem singer 45 minutes before the game.

Jon Bon Jovi was spotted in the crowd, and the backup plan was to have him on standby in case they weren’t able to convince Garth to come back.

But eventually, NBC gave in. They delayed the Super Bowl for the first time in history in order to make time to show the Garth Brooks music video. And the “Friends In Low Places” singer ultimately returned to perform the national anthem alongside actress Marlee Matlin, who is hearing impaired and performed the anthem in sign language.

It seems that organizers learned their lesson though. Since Garth’s stunt, the NFL and Super Bowl producers have required anthem performers to submit a pre-recorded version to have on standby just in case.

Which is a shame, because I wouldn’t mind seeing a new Reba video before she performs this year’s national anthem.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock