Prince was, in a phrase, one of a kind. Rarely does such an eccentric and at times egotistical star actually posses the talent to back up his or her persona, but Prince was a rarity if nothing else. He was one of the most outlandish personalities of his time, and he did have the talent to back it up. He had so much talent that practically all of the greats in the industry adored and respected him despite his eccentricities. Eric Clapton was once asked in an interview what it felt like to be the best guitarist in the world, and his answer was perfect: “I don’t know. Ask Prince.”
Sadly, millennials and other young generations might not know much about Prince beyond the hilarious impersonation of him that was featured on Dave Chapelle’s old show. So we dug up one video that might just tell you everything you need to know.
It’s a shame that we often wait to celebrate an artist’s accomplishments until he or she passes away, but it’s the nature of the beast. And since Prince passed away at the young age of 57 on Thursday, the internet is now awash with videos of Prince performances and stories about his career.
If you’re unfamiliar with his catalog, there’s only one service where you can stream Prince’s best albums.
Since the web is now flooded with Prince, it’s difficult to know where to start — but we’re here to help, and we humbly suggest that you start with the video below and the brief story behind it.
At the 2004 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Prince joined Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne, Paul Shaffer and others to perform a cover of Beatles classic While My Guitar Gently Weeps. The performance honored late Beatles guitarist George Harrison, and to this day it’s recalled as one of the greatest performances in Rock Hall history, if not the greatest performance.
As an aside, the performance almost didn’t happen. Harrison’s widow protested because she wanted all of the performers to be people who had known Harrison personally, but Prince and several backup musicians had never met him.
But the show went on as planned, and Prince’s two-minute solo at the end of the song stole the show. There are even moments where the musicians on stage couldn’t believe what they were seeing — watch the backup guitarist’s face just after the 4:40 mark when Prince leans off stage and continues his solo without missing a beat as he’s is held up on his back by a stagehand. Then after an epic flourish to close the performance, Prince tosses his guitar and struts off the stage like the badass he was.
Oh, and that backup guitarist just so happened to be George Harrison’s son, Dhani Harrison.
The full video is embedded below:
That tells you everything you need to know about Prince? Almost… it was later learned that Prince had never even heard the song While My Guitar Gently Weeps until it was sent to him to learn ahead of the ceremony. And yet he still killed it like no one else could.
“They rehearsed it a bunch of times, and every time you could see this was going to tear the roof off the place,” Paul Shaffer later said in an interview. “But Prince kept a little something in reserve for the actual performance itself. He really did show what a great guitarist he was. He just killed it that night.”