Local Current Blog

Musical highlights of Super Bowl week 1992: Guns N’ Roses, Harry Connick Jr., and Ol’ Blue Eyes

Frank Sinatra performs in Washington, D.C. in 1992. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

Minnesota is gearing up to host its second Super Bowl this Sunday, and music is a huge part of the festivities — from Justin Timberlake’s halftime show to concerts happening all over the Twin Cities. As the festivities for the big game begin, here’s a look back at the much lower-key music scene the last time the Super Bowl came to Minneapolis, in 1992.

To win the bid to host the Super Bowl, Minnesota presented itself as a winter wonderland of sorts, with the theme for the halftime show being “Winter Magic.” Although by today’s standards the halftime show that year wasn’t very good, there were other entertainment options.

To kick things off, the Minneapolis Convention Center hosted the Super Bowl’s very first NFL Experience party. Compared to the other more exclusive and extravagant parties other cities had thrown, this event was more focused on creating an interactive NFL experience for families and attracted tens of thousands of fans during its four-day stretch.

Meanwhile, across the river, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival built a large ice palace that drew two million visitors to the city’s Harriet Island. Although it was a hit with its record height of 166 feet and was a memorable part of the Super Bowl experience for many fans, construction, lighting and security costs for the ice palace added up to $1.9 million, almost putting an end to the Winter Carnival altogether. (That’s one reason organizers were hesitant about building another palace, even a more modest edifice, this year.)

Back in Minneapolis, there were concerts by well-known musicians. Starting out the week was Guns N’ Roses with Soundgarden at Target Center. According to the Star Tribune, the audience was made up mostly of high school students who played with Nerf footballs as they waited the show to start, and they waited for a long time. Although the band were supposed to come on stage at 9 p.m., they didn’t hit the stage until 11:30 that night, and the show went on until 2:30 in the morning with parents anxiously waiting next door in the “parents room” for the show to end.

On the opposite side of the musical spectrum, Harry Connick Jr. — in addition to sining the national anthem at the game — played four sold-out shows at the State Theatre. With his 17-piece band, Connick played mostly jazz standards and was hailed as the successor to a music veteran who also came to town that week

At 76, Frank Sinatra played what would be his last local show, at Met Center. Although he was able to maintain the same charisma that had captivated audiences his whole career, he had trouble remembering some of the words to his songs and wasn’t able to sing as well as he had in the past.

Other performances that week included Lyle Lovett (at the Guthrie, as were John Mayall and the Blues Breakers) and the Pixies, giving visitors a range of things to do that year. On Super Bowl eve, the Charlie Daniels Band were at the St. Paul Civic Center and the Smothers Brothers were at Orchestra Hall.

Of course, if you preferred to avoid the Super Bowl traffic and curl up with your home stereo system, Target was happy to hook you up with the latest releases from American Music Award nominees Mariah Carey, Garth Brooks, Ricky Van Shelton, C+C Music Factory, Reba McEntyre, the Judds, Luther Vandross, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince…and, of course, Prince himself (Diamonds and Pearls). All just $10.99 on CD, or $7.99 on cassette. Vinyl? Come on. Who had a record player any more?

Simone Cazares is a student at Saint Paul College. Originally from Miami, Fla., she survives Minnesota’s cruel winters by immersing herself in the Twin Cities music scene. Colleen Cowie and Jay Gabler also contributed to this story.