Prince Interrupts a News Conference to Perform ‘Johnny B. Goode': 365 Prince Songs in a Year
To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
Pre-game news conferences, even for celebrated events like the Super Bowl, are usually staid events. Unless Prince is the featured guest. In that case, you might just get an incendiary update of a Chuck Berry favorite.
The grizzled sportswriters in Miami to cover Super Bowl XLI should have guessed something was amiss. After all, Prince entered the press room on Feb. 1, 2007 with an electric guitar, dancers and a full band. Still, things began in typical fashion.
“Contrary to rumor, I’d like to take a few questions right now,” Prince quietly said, with his trademark shyness. An unidentified journalist took the bait, gamely asking: “Prince, how do you feel about – ”
That’s when Prince – smirk firmly in place – suddenly broke into an eruptive version of “Johnny B. Goode,” to the surprise and then delight of the assembled reporters.
Prince and a group that included bassist Josh Dunham; drummer Cora Coleman-Dunham; keyboardists Morris Hayes and Renato Neto; horn players Greg Boyer, Mike Phillips and Lee Hogans; and background vocalists Shelby J., Maya McClean and Nandy McClean subsequently tore through a pair of originals, “Anotherloverholenyohead” and “Get on the Boat.”
After that, he flashed a final smile, took a deep bow – and then Prince was gone. The reporters, having apparently long since put their pens and notebooks away, exploded into applause. And this was all before Prince performed arguably the greatest Super Bowl halftime show ever.
He had actually been covering Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” since a 2006 stop at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. A 2011 version, performed with vocalists Andy Allo, Cassandra O’Neal, Shelby J. and Liv Warfield in a promotional appearance before Prince played the Stade De France, was also broadcast on TV.
But none topped this one, as Prince crafted a thrilling, seemingly improvisational moment that sportswriter Allen St. John later told Forbes was the “greatest rock and roll moment” of his life.
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