Video: When the Super Bowl Halftime Show Celebrated New Orleans… and ‘Peanuts’

As a lifelong Saints fan, I derived a certain amount of joy from watching the Atlanta Falcons blow their 25-point lead in spectacular fashion during last night’s Super Bowl. I was a little bit less excited about watching Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots franchise secure their legacies as the Greatest of All Time, but if it kept the Dirty Birds from earning a ring then so be it.

You see, much like the Who Dat Nation, Falcons fans know what it’s like to see their team snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in crucial moments. Unlike the Who Dat Nation, however, Falcons fans have no idea what it’s like to see their team win a Super Bowl.

Hopefully future iterations of the Saints have a hand in keeping it that way.

Now that we’ve made it through those formalities, let’s take a look back at an interesting piece of Super Bowl history. Lady Gaga did a fine job with last night’s halftime show, but it should be noted that the event was not always the high production value extravaganza that we’ve come to know and—sometimes—love. That really started to change in the early 1990s, when a not-so-surprising realization that lots of ad revenue was being left on the table inspired various executives to make pop music superstars a part of the equation.

If 1991’s New Kids on the Block performance represented the beginning of the modern halftime show era, then 1990’s offering—during Super Bowl XXIV—represented the end of an earlier era that was dominated by marching bands and drill teams.

Super Bowl XXIV took place in New Orleans, so it’s only fair that soul queen Irma Thomas, clarinet legend Pete Fountain and cajun fiddle icon Doug Kershaw showed up to celebrate Louisiana music with the Nicholls State, Southern University and ULL marching bands. Costumed dancers dressed like Charlie Brown, Snoopy and other Peanuts characters were also there because 1990 was the 40th anniversary of the comic strip or something. I’m not entirely sure why anyone would decide to combine a celebration of Peanuts with a celebration of Louisiana music, but the Cold War had just ended and it probably made sense to American audiences at the time.

We sure are glad they did it though! After all, there’s no other conceivable reason for Irma Thomas to sing a gospel classic with Schroeder accompanying her on piano.