Usher’s Super Bowl Halftime Show had everything — roller skating, acrobatics, a striptease Lil Jon and even a subtle nod to Usher’s friend and collaborator, Aaron Spears.
Four months after Spears died at 47, Usher ensured his longtime drummer was a part of the Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show. As Usher, 45, performed with a full backing band on the stage in the middle of Las Vegas’s Allegiant Field, two drum kits were sitting in the back. One, colored gold, sat empty as Usher continued to deliver one of the best halftime shows in recent memory.
While it was a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, Rolling Stone later confirmed that this was Usher’s intentional tribute to Spears.
Spears worked with Usher for decades, serving as a producer on the R&B singer’s landmark 2004 album, Confessions (which earned Spears a Grammy nomination.) I Spears went on to work with stars like Miley Cyrus, Lil Wayne, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, and Usher’s protégé Justin Bieber.
Kris Jenner, Jenna Ortega and Kate McKinnon will all be part of the 2024 Super Bowl. The big game is the most-watched night of television in the U.S. (115 million people tuned in last year), so advertisers pay the big bucks for A-list talent. Companies also drop a pretty penny to air an ad with […]
Spears died in October 2023. His wife confirmed his passing via Instagram. “Aaron was not only an incredibly accomplished drummer, admired by many for his unparalleled talent and passion for music, but he was also a devoted father to our precious son, August,” she wrote. “His love, guidance, and warmth were the pillars of our family, and his absence leaves a void that words cannot describe.”
“We were blessed to have him in our lives, and his legacy will live on through the beautiful rhythms he created and the love he shared with us,” she continued. “We appreciate all the thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Please remember Aaron for the incredible person he was and the amazing music he brought into our world.”
Grande, 30, celebrated Spears as “the absolute brightest light of a human being” following news of his death. Bieber, 29, said the world “lost a beautiful man and inspiration to all of us drummers.”
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In addition to the Spears tribute, Usher’s halftime show included appearances by Alicia Keys, Jermaine Dupri, H.E.R., will.i.am, Lil Jon and Ludacris. The show, expanded from 13 to 15 minutes, ran through Usher’s greatest hits, from “Love in this Club” to “Confessions Part II,” “Nice & Slow,” “Bad Girl” and “Yeah.”
“I would hope that people would feel excited — whether they knew my music or they just got to meet me for the first time — and that I’m all passion, man,” Usher told Entertainment Weekly days before the performance. ”And that this 8-year-old, who now is a 45-year-old, feels just as free as the first time that I thought any of this could be possible.”