Willie Hill, director of the Fine Arts Center, will be featured on a CBS special in February for his role as leader of the entertainment for the very first Super Bowl halftime show.
In February, the NFL Super Bowl will be celebrating 50 years and a history of spectacular half-time shows. On Friday, Feb. 5, CBS will host a two-hour special that looks at the history of Super Bowl entertainment. The feature will explore how the Super Bowl halftime shows have progressed since the beginning and will give a glimpse of what it takes to produce the show today.
In 1967, Hill was head drum major for Grambling College, now Grambling State University. For the very first Super Bowl and at a pivotal moment of the Civil Rights movement, Hill led the marching bands for Grambling, a historically black school, and the University of Arizona, predominantly white, onto the field.
In a year that saw racial riots in cities from Detroit to Los Angeles, when the racially charged “In the Heat of the Night” won Best Picture at the Academy Awards and Thurgood Marshall became the first black Supreme Court Justice, the blending of both bands in front of 40 million Americans watching at home on television and 60,000 inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was monumental.
According to Hill, “We had collaborated with other black bands all the time … But here's an all-white band from Arizona. It was a different twist to what we were accustomed to. We had to make sure we were hot stuff.”
The two bands marched together, eventually forming an outline of the United States, a blend of black and white that wasn't so seamless elsewhere across the national landscape or on the sports field.
In 2008, Hill, who has a long and distinguished career in music education, was inducted into Grambling State University’s Hall of Fame.
The CBS special will include Hill along with two University of Arizona marching band members who all participated in the halftime show. The behind-the-scenes feature also looks at previous performances by Hill, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Paul McCartney, U2 and more.