LOS ANGELES (Top40 Charts/ ESPN Communications) - Monday Night Football is the signature television property in all of sports - an American institution - and legendary singer Hank Williams, Jr. has played a defining role in that tradition since 1989, earning four Emmy awards (1991-1994) and national acclaim among fans for the MNF anthem he has made famous. That legacy will continue on MNF when the familiar face and voice of Williams, Jr. will perform the opening theme with a new twist, bridging the series' past with its bright future on ESPN.
Based on his hit song "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight," Williams, Jr., will perform "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Monday Night" for the first time with an all star jam band representing musical influences from country and classic rock 'n roll to hip-hop. Band members will include:
• Guitarists Chris Burney (Bowling for Soup), Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick), Steven Van Zandt (E Street Band);
• Keyboardists Little Richard and Bernie Worrell (Parliament Funkadelic);
• Fiddler Charlie Daniels;
• Saxophonist Clarence Clemons (E Street Band);
• Bassist Bootsy Collins (Parliament Funkadelic);
• Drummers Angela Webster (The Believers) and ?uestlove (The Roots).
'When Hank says 'Are you ready for some football?' it injects a surge of energy and excitement before the Monday Night Football kickoff, and that will definitely be true on ESPN this fall,' said Norby Williamson, executive vice president, studio and remote production, ESPN. 'Hank and this legendary group of musicians will give ESPN's MNF a new, high-energy opening every week of the season that will have fans in a frenzy just as the teams hit the field.'
Williams, Jr. added: 'Bocephus ain't hard to find. ESPN is now officially one of my rowdy friends - hold on to your hats, it's going to be an exciting season.'
The MNF opening video will feature team-specific lyrics and visuals each week based on the 17 regular season ESPN match-ups. Filming is taking place Tuesday at House of Blues Orlando with all of the musicians. Van Zandt and John Colby are producing the music with lyrics by Greg Jennings. Stephen Levy of Habana Avenue is producing the video, and Wayne Isham is directing.
The MNF video will debut prior to kickoff of ESPN's MNF regular season-opening doubleheader Sept. 11 - Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins (7 p.m. ET) and San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders (10:15 p.m.).
With more than 70 albums to his credit, Williams Jr. has a fascinating career to reflect upon for a legend still in his prime. His discography chronicles a bold profile of growth from adored offspring of a legendary father, to titan of the modern country rock movement in his own right. For more than a decade, America has come to its collective feet each fall Monday night when this larger than life superman of a musician looks into the camera and unleashes the national anthem for viewers of Monday Night Football - 'Are you ready for some football?' Those simple words have won Williams, Jr. an entirely new generation of fans and given him the distinction of being the first country performer to ever win an Emmy.
ESPN's Monday Night Football will engage fans with an immersive, all-day, multimedia approach each week throughout the NFL season across all ESPN platforms - ESPN television networks, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN360 and Mobile ESPN. With a 36-year tradition of innovating and entertaining, MNF is sports television's longest-running and most successful series. ESPN continues to provide the most comprehensive coverage of the NFL throughout the year with signature shows Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown, NFL Live, SportsCenter and other news and information programs.