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A Prince among men

A little monsoon wasn’t about to stop Prince from bringing the Super Bowl (and it’s 93 million viewers) to its knees

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After a sad streak of classic-rock geezers, wacky mash-ups (hello, Aerosmith and Britney!), and one errant breast, Prince finally brought some sexy back to the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday with a performance that had roughly 93.2 million viewers cheering — and you can blame it on the rain. The sight of the 48-year-old singer’s blazing onstage performance in a near-monsoon ”gave an ethereal feeling to the whole set,” says Don Mischer, who exec produced the show with Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss. ”What we feared would be a liability actually strengthened his performance.”

The subsequent buzz — and news that Prince had covered the Foo Fighters’ recent hit ”Best of You” — prompted lead singer Dave Grohl to seek out the show on YouTube the next day.

”Having been a massive Prince fan my whole life, I was flattered beyond words,” says Grohl. ”What an honor to be covered by one of your heroes!”

But let’s get back to that downpour. How in the world did Prince avoid becoming a small fry on that slick stage? Some dangerous off-camera heroics helped, for one: After an electric cable was accidentally severed moments before the show, a stage hand channeled a scene straight out of Back to the Future by manually inserting the exposed copper wires into an outlet and holding them in place for the duration of the nearly 12-minute show. It’s a wonder he wasn’t injured, which is why Mischer says he wants to find out the guy’s identity, because ”I think I should give him a medal.” (Better yet, maybe a trip to Aruba?)

Whether Prince — who’s currently performing a weekend show at Las Vegas’ Rio Hotel — was electric enough to continue capitalizing on his recent career upswing remains to be seen. (In one promising development, his 2001 greatest hits album has already zoomed to No. 10 on iTunes’ best-selling albums chart.) But Kawan ”KP” Prather, the executive V.P. and head of A&R at Sony BMG’s urban music division who helped broker the deal to release Prince’s 2004 album Musicology, says that in the end it was the Super Bowl that needed His Purple One’s magic touch, not the other way around. ”Prince has enough hits to be able to walk out onstage with a guitar and kill everywhere he goes,” says Prather. ”He could do that in an airport.”