Skip to main content

Bills Today: Anthem recording for Super Bowl XXV first sent to Buffalo


Here's the Bills news of note for Feb. 2nd.

1 - Anthem recording for Super Bowl XXV first sent to BuffaloIt's not well known that Whitney Houston's iconic rendition of the 'Star Spangled Banner' was pre-recorded in Los Angeles in early January. The music and Houston's voice track were recorded separately a week apart. * *

Even fewer know that the pre-recording was overnighted to Buffalo in advance of the AFC Championship game.

In a compelling story by's Danyel Smith, she explains how there was a group of senior NFL executives in Buffalo leading up to the AFC title game between the Bills and Raiders, and they wanted to hear the recording of the anthem that would be played at the Super Bowl to review it and officially approve it.

The anthem music was played in 4/4 time, slower than the typical 3/4 time. The aim was to make Houston's rendition more soulful.

The problem was the NFL execs thought the version was too slow and difficult to sing along with. Knowing the significance this particular national anthem would have in the wake of the beginning of the first Gulf War, the league did not want to deviate from the norm.

They asked if it could be redone.

Houston's father, John Houston was contacted by Jim Steeg, the man in charge of the Super Bowl each and every year of its existence, to make the request at the behest of the league.

"The conversation was brief," Steeg said. "There would be no re-recording."

Houston, who amazingly laid down the vocal track in one take, on Super Bowl Sunday sang the anthem out loud into a dead mic as the pre-recorded version played.

"There's no way to rehearse the sound of the crowd ... coming at you," said anthem producer Rickey Minor years later. "You don't know where the first note begins."

As Houston's anthem performance wound down, tears were running down the faces of most of the fans in the stands. Flags were waving as an unexpected overflow of patriotism enveloped Tampa Stadium.

Here is how Smith explained the reasoning behind slowing the time of the anthem and the impact of Houston's anthem rendition.

You have to understand: By slowing it down, Team Houston and the Florida Orchestra -- under the direction of Chinese conductor Jahja Ling -- not only increased the national anthem's level of technical difficulty, they amplified its soul. They made it the blues.

The song itself became a top-20 pop hit. Folks called in and requested Whitney Houston's national anthem on the radio. The version NFL executives thought might be too slow, people sang along to as they drove down the street.

Super Bowl XXV is defined as much by the launch of Desert Storm and Security Nation and by Whitney Houston as by the game itself. That day was the start of a branding relationship between the armed forces and the NFL that has grown vine like around a state of perpetual war.

2 - Alexander: I would love to be back in BuffaloBills Pro Bowl LB Lorenzo Alexander put a fantastic exclamation point on what was a magical season for the 10-year veteran. Taking home Defensive MVP honors in the Pro Bowl proved to be icing on the cake for what for Alexander was a career year. Now set to become a free agent, if Alexander had his choice he'd like to be back with the Bills in 2017.

"I would love to be back in Buffalo," said Alexander in an appearance on the John Murphy Show. "I'm kind of a journeyman in a sense because the last couple of years I've bounced around, but I really love the fan base there. It's historic. They really have a passion for the game up there. It's a great community. They're blue collar."

At the same time Alexander has learned that things in the NFL don't always work out the way one might want. Even with a new coaching staff in place it's likely that Alexander is still a respected player at One Bills Drive. Alexander however, is all too aware that there are no guarantees.

"That's the one thing I hate about the NFL," he said. "It is a business. Even if you want something to happen, sometimes it can't because things fall through. I'm definitely going to be working on this the best we can so I can be back and finish my career in one place and stop jumping around because I know the kids love the area and it'd be nice to finish my career up there."

3 - Hall of Famer James Lofton now a HOF selectorLast year around this time Bills Hall of Fame WR James Lofton and Chargers Hall of Fame QB Dan Fouts became the first enshrines to sit in on a Hall of Fame election process. This year the two Hall of Famers will be part of that process as they are two of the 16 at-large selectors along with the 32 media representatives from each NFL city (two from New York, two from L.A.).

Lofton, who appeared on the John Murphy Show from the site of this year's Super Bowl in Houston, explained how he and Fouts took part in the process that reduced a long list of candidates down to the required 15 heading into selection weekend.  

"Dan Fouts and I are on the selectors committee for the first time," Lofton said. "A couple of months ago we got a book of 94 players and we're supposed to initially whittle that down to 25. We're down to 15 now. We have two contributors and a senior candidate in (former Seattle DB) Kenny Easley. We have (former NFL commissioner) Paul Tagliabue and (Cowboys owner) Jerry Jones in that contributors category.

"From that 15 we go to 10 and from that we move to five. For the five we vote and they need 80 percent of the vote to go in. You need a minimum of three."

Lofton, who believes there is a sizable contingent of candidates deserving of enshrinement is hopeful this year's induction class is the maximum five allowed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"I would hope after all that hard work and realizing there's such a backlog of players who aren't in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, you don't put in three or four," said Lofton. "You put in five."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.