(I don’t know if this signals a return of my Great Guitar Solos series or if it’s just a one-off; I haven’t decided, yet.)
So I have a confession to make: I don’t have Prince’s music in my collection. His music was never completely my jam.
I don’t hate his music.
On the contrary…
Prince, IMO, was a monster of guitar, a talent surpassed by very, very few, perhaps almost none, during his time. His ability to play the guitar was phenomenal to watch, and I loved watching him solo. His solos were incredible, up there with Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and David Gilmour, but with a technical know-how above all of them. Each time Prince laid down a solo, it was a master class in how to play the guitar as the leading instrument.
So yes, I respect, immensely, the talent that he wielded. But I was never a big fan of the 80s musically, and Prince was part of that. He was brilliant, however, and I would defend him as a master talent of guitar to anyone who would dare claim otherwise. Even someone who would assume that their musical opinions are objective facts would have to bow to Prince’s mastery of guitar.
And this performance I want to highlight here shows that off incredibly, in my opinion…
No, it’s not a Prince original.
At the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne, Dhani Harrison, and others performed “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. Prince played the final guitar solo, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a master class on lead guitar. There’s a power and ferocity juxtaposed with a playfulness that I just know George Harrison would have been proud of. Prince channeled his inner Jimi Hendrix for it and wowed everyone who was watching that year.
Don’t believe me?
Watch it for yourself:
That, right there, is a master of his craft showing what he can do, and making it look like an easy day at the office. You can see what a guitar solo is supposed to be by watching him play… the way he lays into the neck, the way he deliberately hits each note, his brilliant use of space, speed, and even theatricality… Prince did it all in this one solo, showing off why he was such a talent. (I do have a question, though… where the hell does his guitar go at the end, when he throws it up? It never comes down again… just… disappears…)
So now Prince plays, alongside amazing greats, in that Great Gig in the Sky. He was a guitar wizard, wielding the instrument as an extension of his soul. He will live on, immortal, in his songs and his solos. Even I will miss him.
RIP Prince Rogers Nelson, June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016