Usher pays tribute to late drummer Aaron Spears during Super Bowl Halftime show

Usher performs at Super Bowl 2024 halftime show
(Image credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation)

The Super Bowl Halftime Show (or rather, the Apple Music Super Bowl 58 Halftime Show) has become one of the biggest musical spectacles of the year, and for 2024 it was Usher who was charged with keeping fans entertained during the break in the the game.

The R&B megastar took to the field and was joined by Alicia Keys, Ludacris, Lil Jon and HER, along with an army of dancers as he blazed through hits including Caught Up, Yeah!, If I Aint Got You, U Got It Bad and more.

But once the live band is first seen at around 6 minutes during Confessions, the overhead camera shots give us a glimpse of the stage, where drummer Devon ‘Stixx’ Taylor can be seen holding down proceedings. Next to him, sits an empty five-piece drum kit - are we awaiting a guest drummer? No.

The additional drum kit was placed on stage in a touching tribute to late drummer, Aaron Spears, who was a longtime collaborator with Usher and passed away on 30 October, 2023 aged 47.

The yellow Ludwig kit remained unplayed throughout the set, but drummers will recognise the logo on the front head — a star featuring the letter S in the middle — as Spears’.

Devon Taylor, who was a close friend of Spears and has previously played with Usher, took-over DW drums' instagram account in celebration of the event. He also unveiled some stunning custom two-tone Zildjian cymbals during the show too. 

While the camera angles don’t really give us a chance to see them clearly, Zildjian shared a peak at the pies on its Instagram. The matte-black-and-white metals are a mix of A Custom and K/K Customs, and judging by the reactions in the comments on the post,  Zildjian would have plenty of orders if they made them available!

Usher paid tribute to Aaron Spears shortly after his death, saying, “He was my hero, man. I couldn’t let him know how I felt about him enough. But I hope he saw it every time I picked up a pair of sticks and I went to drum. He meant that much to me, and he will continue to mean that much to me as a friend. That’s an amazing force.

"I will always love Aaron Spears. I will have him in my mind no matter when I’m playing, where I’m playing - I always hear his rolls. I always hear him backing me up. He follows me everywhere I go, and I was like, ‘Man, you caught that? You the baddest.’ He was that dude." 

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.