How Huey Lewis changed the national anthem for Kansas City Chiefs fans forever

How did the Chiefs end up with one of the most recognizable fan-assisted Anthem endings in all of sports?
Divisional Round - Cleveland Browns v Kansas City Chiefs
Divisional Round - Cleveland Browns v Kansas City Chiefs / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

You've likely woken up at the crack of dawn to pack your cars, trucks, vans, buses, or Vandy's with the supplies you'll need for the day. Whether it's a full-on tailgating setup or just a cooler full of beer, you pack up and plan your day to get to one of the most storied and celebrated outdoor sporting venues in North America for an experience unlike any other.

Arrowhead Stadium has become synonymous with "home field advantage". There are so many factors that elevate the Kansas City Chiefs' home turf to a different stratosphere in the sports venue landscape, So many traditions—both simple and intricate rituals—go into making a Chiefs game at Arrowhead something that every sports fan should experience at least once in their life.

Most of those aforementioned rituals are confined to Arrowhead Stadium itself on gamedays. Others transcend Arrowhead. They travel. They make their mark at sporting venues across the country for sports that aren't even football.

How did the Chiefs end up with one of the most recognizable fan-assisted Anthem endings in all of sports?

The arrival to Arrowhead and the adrenaline associated with it is something that can't even be curtailed by hours of barbecue consumption and beverage downing (alcoholic or non). It's a wave that you ride all the way up until you get into your seat in the stadium. From there, there's a slight lull. Lull may not be the right word; rather, the anxiety sets in. You start to dissect the day's matchup, wonder who is on the injury report, and the like. The moment starts to get to you.

Then the adrenaline surges back through your body with the force of a space shuttle's launch sequence. Steam pours out of the portable stanchions that create the tunnel for the players to make their way onto the field as the PA announcer bellows the names of the players that we all watch with stressful admiration each week. A group of players that have delivered us as a fan base from the outskirts of football purgatory to its finest luxury suite. From there, the National Anthem starts. Whether it's Generald Wilson, Melissa Ethridge, or another local or national musical icon, the anthem always brings the emotions to the stadium.

But America's theme song is different at Arrowhead for one specific reason. As Chiefs fans, this team, this experience, and that building conjure emotions that are bigger than the game. Nevertheless, the thoughts begin to race as the emotion and adrenaline converge directly before the moment that the action kicks off.

But first, we have one more ritual to complete. Here's a rough look at how that mental progression can play out as the auditory stimuli progress.

Oh say can you see...

"Mahomes and the boys look dialed, I need to lock myself in too!"

With broad stripes and bright stars...

"We've got this. CJ and the defense have to bring it today and if they can hold [insert opponent] to 21 or less the offense will get us there."

O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming...

"I wonder if there's going to be a flyover today?"

And the rocket's red glare...

"I actually think I can hear the stealths. Let me take a peek over the top of the giant Ford speaker and be one of the first to see."

O, say, does that Star-Spangled banner yet wa-ave...

As the deafening sound of military planes begins to overtake Arrowhead, the last line of the National Anthem approaches, and with it, a signature moment that is now practiced in stadiums and arenas around the world when people from this area (and even from the furthest reaches of Chiefs Kingdom) congregate.

"O'er the land of the free / And the home of the.. CHIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEFFFFFFFFFFFFFS"

Whether you hate it or love it, "home of the Chiefs" is a part of the culture of Chiefs football and has become a staple of Chiefs Kingdom. My wife and I were at the Big XII basketball tournament two years ago at T-Mobile Arena in Kansas City. Whose home do you think that was at the end of the anthem? In Frankfurt last November, Chiefs fans in Germany made a soccer stadium across the pond the home of the Chiefs. Any stadium in the NFL that you travel to has at least a minor takeover of the last line of the National Anthem, and both Missouri and Kansas collegiate teams have the "Chiefs" take on the final word of the national anthem at their home and some away games as well.

It's a tradition that travels, but it's one that obviously started right in the heart of the Kingdom. In 1993 in what was Joe Montana's first home game as Chiefs quarterback, rock and roll legend Huey Lewis performed the anthem in front of a crowd of over 78,000 fans at Arrowhead—the largest at the stadium in over two decades. The atmosphere had to be as electric as modern-day Chiefs playoff games.

What was surely a tactic by Lewis to get an already raucous crowd completely unhinged as they welcomed his favorite quarterback (Lewis was and presumably still is a massive 49ers fan) into his new home turned out to be a tradition that would stand the test of multiple decades. It would also become the calling card of a fan base for what seems like and unending amount of time at this point. Chiefs fans have Huey Lewis to thank for first singing "Home of the Chiefs!" during the anthem's end.

Can you find ways to make this controversial? It's 2024, you can find a way to make 2% milk controversial nowadays. But to those who elect to overlook the fun aspects of life and the traditions that come along with the electricity that can only be produced from live sporting events—the NFL in particular—I will have to take the high road and agree to disagree with your stance. This is a battle cry,. This is the identity of a city and a region that has long feared failure for valid reasons with their football team but now is on top of the world and proclaiming proudly what Arrowhead Stadium is the home of.

So many aspects of Chiefs home games have evolved over the course of the last 30 years. Some stripped away because of controversy; some were left untouched as relics of past generations who knew nothing but disappointment, but those who are still around today have the joy of redemption and the sweet, sweet nectar of victory to hold onto forever with this dynasty. Along with the trophies, the memories, the signature plays, and the franchise-altering players come the traditions that make the Chiefs who they are. They also give Arrowhead Stadium the greatest home-field advantage in American sports.

Coaches and players will come and go. Lombardis will be won and lost. Arrowhead Stadium may not even be in the same location 6-7 years from now. But no foe will come into Kansas City without there being one certain non-negotiable. Kansas City is the home of the Chiefs, and when you come to our house, you'd better expect a fight. It is what we do as a city, and right now and for the foreseeable future, the team is game to match the intensity of its passionate fan base.