Millions of music fans were shocked with the death of Prince this week, but as tributes, tweets, and posts start rolling in commemorating his musical genius, many fans were surprised at some rare appearances that surfaced highlighting his musical genius as well as his incredibly underrated skills at playing guitar.
MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow pointed out in an extended editorial tribute how Prince was a DIY artist who was not only talented on guitar, but who played every instrument on all of his albums, as well as writing and producing them. He changed our musical landscape with his “dirty mind,” even before the PMRC moms held Congressional hearings to protest sexual lyrics. She also noted how his racy lyrics and stage attire earned him warning labels before the PMRC got upset over “Darling Nikki,” and how those little warning stickers made her want those albums that much more.
One could argue Prince definitely had the last laugh over that PMRC debacle.
Prince Rarities: His Hall of Fame Guitar Solo, Upstaging James Brown And Michael Jackson
Super Bowl XLI Half-Time Press Conference Featuring Prince
[Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images]
2013 Billboard Music Awards – Show
[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]
Super Bowl XLI: Pepsi Halftime Show
[Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]
2015 American Music Awards – Show
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]
American Idol Season 5 Finale – Show
[Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images]
Super Bowl XLI: Pepsi Halftime Show
[Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images]
2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival – Day 2 – Show
[Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Clear Channel]
Prince was truly a one-of-a-kind, music Renaissance man, and a couple of videos on the internet are getting extra attention in light of his passing. The first is a clip from 1983, where James Brown first called up Michael Jackson on the stage during one of his performances. After much whispered discussion between the two, Brown announced to the crowd that Jackson had insisted that he introduce Prince and bring him up on stage, despite a rumored rivalry between the two over the course of their careers.
Prince came bouncing through the crowd on the back of a burly bodyguard, and when he got on stage, he made a beeline for one of the guitar player’s instruments. After toying with it for a bit and playing a few notes — and doing a little grind on it that even “Nikki” would envy — he took off his shirt and did a few moves with the microphone. Then Prince did a few more dance moves without the microphone, before exiting the stage without even acknowledging Jackson or Brown again, and pulling over a lamp post prop at the corner of the stage during his theatrical exit.
The performance was odd, and his behavior doubly so, but whether you liked it or hated it, he stole the show from James Brown and Michael Jackson — on the same night and on the same stage, no less. That in itself is legendary.
Likewise, another popular video making the rounds is one where Prince stole the show at the Hall of Fame induction tribute to George Harrison. During a group jam featuring such notables as Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne, and the son of George Harrison, Prince emerged from the shadows into a spotlight for an utterly mind-blowing guitar solo, which seemed to particularly delight Harrison’s son.
An old joke is now going viral regarding the fact that George Harrison wrote the song and Eric Clapton recorded it, but that Prince’s guitar playing was the cherry on top of an already brilliant song. So much so, that when Clapton was asked what it was like being the best guitar player in the world, he replied to ask Prince. While the quote has proven to be an untrue urban legend, after you watch this video, you might agree with it. Even Eric Clapton might agree, after watching Prince’s guitar solo in “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
At one point, as he was playing, Prince leaned back into the crowd, where security guards supported him and returned into him to an upright position, with Prince not even missing a note. Then after blowing everyone’s mind, and much like his dramatic exit in the James Brown video, he threw his guitar into the air and simply walked offstage. That exit is a great metaphor for how Prince lived his life. He blew our minds and mesmerized us with his genius, and then without any lingering or drawn out declines or goodbyes, quietly exited stage right.
Prince always knew how to make an exit, he just did it too soon.
If you chuckled at Prince’s attitude and hubris in the first video, you may want to have the tissues handy for this one. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” profoundly illustrates the depth of the talent and brilliant genius that the world lost when Prince died. “When Doves Cry,” indeed.
Rest in peace, sweet Prince. And keep upstaging the Godfather and the King, like only you ever could.
[Photo by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images for Lotusflow3r.com]