Most pregame renditions of The Star-Spangled Banner fade from memory even before the action starts, but now and then a performance comes along either so good or so bad that it becomes a part of history. Super Bowl XXIX, scheduled for Jan. 29, has already generated its bit of anthem lore. It seems that plans were in the works to have Barbra Streisand sing. But according to a report in the Miami Herald, which the NFL calls "apocryphal," commissioner Paul Tagliabue said he had already "told Frank his wife could do it." That would be Frank as in Gifford, whose wife is the preternaturally perky morning-show host Kathie Lee Gifford. Thus one of the most coveted gigs of the year went from Babs to worse. Here are some other notes—both high and low—in anthem history.
May 25, 1965. St. Dominic's Youth Center, Lewiston, Maine. Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston, world heavyweight title fight.
Canadian-bred Broadway heavyweight and eternal Camelot star Robert Goulet's command of the song lasts for one brief, shining moment before he forgets the words. After that he hums his way through.
Oct. 7, 1968. Tiger Stadium, Detroit. Game 5 of the World Series, Tigers vs. Cardinals.
In the 1960s' most turbulent year, Latin soul star Jose Feliciano hits a liner into the Generation Gap, lighting a fire of controversy with his hip, stylized rendition.
Feb. 13, 1983. The Forum, Los Angeles. NBA All-Star Game.
Marvin Gaye's driving, three-minute masterpiece has the crowd clapping along and the players mesmerized. "We didn't want to go on," Magic Johnson said. "We just wanted to sit there and hear him sing some more."
April 9, 1990. Shea Stadium, New York. Opening Day, Mets vs. Pirates.
Some sweet strokes at home plate, as Hall of Fame violinist Itzhak Perlman performs a classic solo.
July 25, 1990. Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego. Padres vs. Reds.