However many hours NFL quarterbacks Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals and the L.A. Rams’ Matthew Stafford put into drills and practice in prep for this weekend’s thrilling playoff games, you can bet sax maestro Kenny G put in just as many, if not more.
And while no 300-pound linemen were chasing the Grammy-winning woodwind wonder around a football field while he blew his way to becoming the best-selling instrumental musician of the modern era, for G, music is definitely a contact sport. That’s why it shouldn’t be a surprise that G will pop up on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 13), larger than life, in a throwback Busch Light beer ad.
“Think about it: you’ve got an iconic brand like Anheuser-Busch and this song, ‘Head for the Mountains,’ that’s been around since the late 1970s,” G tells Billboard about how he got involved in what is guaranteed to be the smoothest ad to air during Super Bowl LVI. “I get a chance to reprise the song and be in a Super Bowl commercial! You add any one of those ingredients together and it’s great. It was an awesome opportunity.”
Like a determined athlete, the notoriously hard-practicing G did the work to come up with something original. He says he was excited to find his own brassy 2022 take on the classic 1979 “Head For the Mountains” jingle in the ad created by the Martin Agency where he’s literally larger-than-life. “The hard part for me was that it’s always about the music first, so, sure I want the exposure of being in a Super Bowl commercial, but the key for me was, ‘can I come up with a part that I feel really proud of that is going to work?'”
And that is why despite appearing for just over 10 seconds in the 30-second spot, G spent hours and hours and probably played his modern take on “Mountains” 100 times to get it exactly right. Though he was more of a golf team guy in his high school days, G says he can appreciate the dedication and grit it takes to train for the big game, even if he spends so much time in his practice room that he wasn’t even really sure which teams were competing to take the field at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles in two weeks.
He was, however, confident that the smaller-than-usual, COVID-pared group of friends and family who will be at his house on Super Bowl Sunday will get a chance to dig into his delicious special recipe chicken wings. G shared some of the unique flavors that go into his game day treat, which he promises “are absolutely delicious.”
“The secret is they’re more like an Asian version of wings,” he says of the snack that starts with rice wine vinegar and includes jalapeños, Sriracha sauce, ginger, garlic, hot sauce and the secret ingredient that balances hot and sweet: brown sugar.
Even though he’s still a bit bummed that he didn’t get to reprise his solo on The Weeknd’s remix of “In Your Eyes” when Abel rocked last year’s Super Bowl halftime show — and hip-hop is not his first choice of music to listen to when chilling out — Kenny says he’s super-excited about this year’s stacked entertainment lineup. “I love them all!” he says about the killer combo of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar.
“It’s going to be great because I’m a fan of all of them because I like people who are good at what they do and they are all really, really good at what they do!”
Watch the Busch Light ad below.