Music History

A History of Grey Cup Halftime Shows

[This was my column in the Metro papers this week. – AC]

Sunday marks the 103rd edition of what some still call The Great National Drunk. And while the Grey Cup will always be dwarfed by the Super Bowl, we Canadians should remember that our game was into proper halftime spectacles before the NFL.

The first two dozen Super Bowl halftime shows featured little more than marching bands, over-produced thematic salutes (Hollywood, Mardi Gras, the cast of Peanuts) and insulin shock-inducing Up with People performers. It wasn’t until 1993 that the league got serious, inviting Michael Jackson to perform at Super Bowl XVII.

The CFL had already discovered that the Grey Cup halftime worked better if the league presented more than some very smart dogs doing tricks.

The modern Grey Cup halftime show began in Winnipeg in 1991 when Luba — still very hot with songs like Let It Go — was brought in. This was the first Cup game to be held in Winnipeg, so organizers needed to prove that playing the game outdoors on the Prairies in November wasn’t such a bad idea.

From then on, the Grey Cup halftime show became a much bigger priority. (There were a few duds like 1999’s CFL Cheerleader Dance Routines, but never mind.)

Read the rest here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38296 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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