By Chris Willis, NFL Films
A year before the Chicago Bears sang their hit single “Super Bowl Shuffle” the San Francisco 49ers released a song that captivated the Bay Area.
In October of 1984, the 49ers were riding high as the best team in the NFL. They were 6-0 and had just destroyed the New York Giants 31-10 on Monday Night Football in the Big Apple. The media had started to talk about an undefeated season. But 49ers Head Coach Bill Walsh didn’t want any distraction going forward. He wanted his squad focused on the next game- a home contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But during Steelers week maybe there was a minor one. On their day off Pro Bowl defensive back Ronnie Lott and wide receiver Renaldo Nehemiah invited twelve other 49ers players to a recording studio operated by Narada Michael Walden, a well-known music producer in San Francisco, to record a team song. “He was a friend of mine. One day Ronnie and myself had gone to his studio. We were singing background on one of Phyllis Hyman’s song. He came up with the idea of, ‘Hey, how about we make this song?’” recalled Nehemiah. “Of course we all got into it and said’ fine.”
“Nobody had any idea what the heck we were doing. We just went out to have fun. It was Tuesday night and everybody said hey we’re going to meet over here and do it,” said Mike Wilson, wide receiver. “I think somebody said, ‘Hey man, we’re going be doing this record, if you want to be a part of it, come on.’ And that’s kind of the way it went. (I’m) a rookie, I’m trying to hang out with the guys, so I said, ‘Ok, I’m there, John Frank’s there too,” said Guy McIntyre, guard. “Ronnie had the relationship with Narada Michael Walden, he had been producer of the year, he was pretty hot back in those days. So through that relationship, he came up with the tune and got a group of us together and the rest is history!” said a smiling Keena Turner, linebacker.
Calling themselves The 49’er Squadron the diverse group of teammates consisted of:
The song was titled “We’re The 49ers.” It was a few minutes in length and featured a few lines of lyrics. “We’re the 49ers! We will rock you till we win the fight, because We’re the 49ers! We’re dynamite. We’re dynamite!”
“They blend it, mixed it. So I can’t distinguish my voice from anybody’s else on there. But Keena probably would say he was the best,” said Guy McIntyre laughing. “Well, I was the best. I still like the song. It’s a classic. It’s one I think will stand the test of time,” said a joking Keena Turner. Some teammates might disagree. “Keena was the worst singer. I was the best. Ronnie couldn’t carry a note either so I had to carry those guys. I had to sing louder so I could drown them. I think we even turned Keena’s mic off. He didn’t know that,” said an equally laughing Carlton Williamson. “None of us was the greatest of talents. It was all Michael Walden. But we teased. We like to tease some of the guys, ‘yea man, your mic was turned off.’”
Some teammates caught the fever of the “We’re the 49ers” tune. “I thought it was catchy. They did a great job on the song,” said Dwaine Board, defensive end. Produced and written by well-known music producer Narada Michael Walden the song was distributed by Megaton Records. Playing bass on the song was Randy Jackson who recently has made American Idol the most popular show on television. Released as a 45-single Niners fans could buy the record with most of the 49ers players on the cover.
Locally, bay area fans fell in love with the song. “It was cool, you know the city embraced it and rallied around it and all of a sudden you started hearing it all the time,” said Mike Wilson. “I was happy that I was asked to be a part of it. I still have the record,” said Carlton Williamson. Today the song gets over-looked because there wasn’t a video shot for it. Unlike the more famous “Super Bowl Shuffle” done by the Chicago Bears in 1985- despite the fact, the 49ers recorded their song a year earlier. “You kind of laugh (at it). We were just having a good time, and of course, it turned out to be pretty cool after you did it and it was very popular. Then, of course, the Chicago Bears did it. Then everybody was doing it,” said Mike Wilson.
Walsh wasn’t happy about the players being preoccupied off-the-field. Mainly because it came the same week as a loss. “(Walsh) Never wanted us to do things outside of football because he thought it would be distracting. He wanted you to kind of fly below the radar. Never put anything up on the opposing team’s locker room,” said Bill Ring, running back. “O.K., we just lost one game. It’s not the end of the world. But to Bill he made it seem like the end of the world!” said Guy McIntyre, guard.
The song did become a distraction for the 49ers as they lost for the first time in 1984, suffering a 20-17 defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers. After that los, Bill Walsh didn’t have any more distractions, as the 49ers won twelve consecutive games, including beating the Miami Dolphins 38-16 in Super Bowl XIX.
Here is the song via YouTube.
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