Usher's Super Bowl halftime show featured a celebration of his greatest hits with help from a handful of other artists he has collaborated with throughout his 20-plus year career . But one important person was missing from the party: his longtime drummer, Aaron Spears. The singer subtly paid tribute to his late friend during his show.
Usher's performance included two drum sets on stage, including a gold one left open in Spears' honor, rolling stone confirmed.
Spears, who died in October 2023, was a producer on Usher's 2004 smash. Confessionswhich earned him a Grammy nomination, while he was also part of Usher and James Brown's memorable performance of “Caught Up” and “Sex Machine” at the 2005 Grammys. The drummer has also worked with Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Lil Wayne and Lady Gaga throughout her career.
Spears' wife, Jessica, confirmed his death in a statement shared on social media in October, without specifying the cause of death. “Aaron was not only an incredibly accomplished drummer, admired by many for his unparalleled talent and passion for music, but he was also a devoted father to our precious son, August,” she wrote. “His love, guidance and warmth were the pillars of our family, and his absence leaves a void that words cannot describe.”
As for Usher's halftime performance, the singer kicked off his set with “Caught Up,” before launching into a series of his biggest hits, including “My Confessions, Pt. II” and “You Lil Jon showed up to perform “Turn Down For What” before Usher launched into his iconic “Yeah!”, which also features Lil Jon and Ludacris, who came to drop off his verses from the huge hit. Alicia Keys was also there for the duet “If I Ain't Got You” and “My Boo”.