Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa producer recalls working with Whitney Houston at Super Bowl

In 1991, Whitney Houston rendered what is still regarded as a landmark rendition of the National Anthem for the Super Bowl.

Times files (1991)

In 1991, Whitney Houston rendered what is still regarded as a landmark rendition of the National Anthem for the Super Bowl.

TAMPA — For 20 years, Bob Best worked behind the scenes alongside some of the biggest names in show business. His company, Best Productions, which was based in South Tampa, produced every Super Bowl pregame show from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s.

Though he didn't like to deal directly with the talent, Best can relate a host of pre-show horror stories. There was the national anthem singer who walked off an hour before the show. There were musicians who didn't want to rehearse as much as they needed for the big show.

But there was also Whitney.

Best met Whitney Houston a year before what would become regarded as one of the most renowned U.S. national anthem performances ever. The then up-and-coming singer performed at an event called "Rock Fest" on the Fourth of July at Tampa Stadium.

"It was fairly early in her career and she was great to work with," Best said. "Very cooperative. She was an incredible talent."

At the Super Bowl, Houston's father, John Russell Houston, was her manager at the time and Best dealt mostly with him. But he was struck by the down-to-earth nature the young singer exhibited.

Never a prima donna, she didn't mind mingling with stage hands and cast members of the show during rehearsals, Best said. And she always rehearsed to perfection.

The National Football League put Houston on a list of possible talent for the Super Bowl pregame several years in advance. In 1991, she got picked.

Best remembers assembling members of the Florida Orchestra to back up the vocal performance. The day before, rehearsal was longer than usual as rainy weather made for technical difficulties.

"She hung in there and dealt with the elements," Best said. "She dealt with what we needed to get the rehearsal done."

Best knew after that famous anthem that Houston was destined for super stardom. He even foresaw her becoming one of the biggest singers of all time.

"Obviously, she had some challenges as she made it through her life and career," Best said. "But at that time, she had her whole life ahead of her."

Tampa producer recalls working with Whitney Houston at Super Bowl 02/11/12 [Last modified: Saturday, February 11, 2012 11:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Gradebook podcast: Polk County School Board member Billy Townsend on education reform


    Billy Townsend doesn't mince words. He considers Florida's education accountability system a fraud. He's likened the state Legislature to an abusive spouse. And he does it all in public, whether at the board table or on his blog. A former …

    Polk School Board member Billy Townsend
  2. Wesley Chapel man accused of possession of child porn


    WESLEY CHAPEL — A Wesley Chapel man was arrested Tuesday morning after authorities say he tried to buy child pornography from more than 10 users on a social networking app called MeetMe.

  3. There's a local memorial for Linkin Park's Chester Bennington this weekend

    Music & Concerts

    Because he sang so often, and so passionately, about the trials of pushing through pain and desperation, Linkin Park fans have taken the July 20 suicide of singer Chester Bennington really hard.

    Chester Bennington, left, performs during the MMRBQ Music Festival 2015 in Camden, N.J. Hundreds of Linkin Park fans are gathering to pay tribute to late singer weeks after his death. (Associated Press [2015])
  4. Where to pig out for National Bacon Lovers Day

    Food & Dining

    That's right: Sunday is the national day devoted to all things bacon, National Bacon Lovers Day. Which, really, isn't too different from the other 364 days of the year. But here's a little roundup of some special places to celebrate everyone's favorite meat snack (seriously, even vegans have a grudging respect …

    A creme-filled doughnut topped with maple frosting and bacon at Dough on MacDill Avenue in Tampa.
  5. White nationalist Richard Spencer speaks to select media in his office space on Monday in Alexandria, Virginia. [Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images]