Prince passed away five years ago today. 1400 select fans were selected to go inside his sprawling Paisley Park Studios in Minneapolis to pay tribute to the music icon.
“We celebrate his life and legacy every day at Paisley Park, a place that Prince wanted to share with the world,” Paisley Park Executive Director Alan Seiffert said in a statement. “So, on this day especially, we acknowledge the incredible force and inspiration Prince is in people’s lives and open up our doors for them to pay their respects.”
While he leaves an incredible musical legacy, one of his standout performances was the guitar solo he performed at the end of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” at the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, when George Harrison was inducted, along with Prince, ZZ Top, Bob Seger, Jackson Browne, and Traffic.
It’s an all star lineup of Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, George Harrison’s son Dhani and others. During rehearsals when Prince was supposed to solo during the middle and end parts of the song, Jeff Lynne’s guitarist Marc Mann stepped in, playing a note for note recreation of Eric Clapton’s solos from the record, virtually shutting out Prince. He told the producers not to worry about it, that he would just take the solo at the end and they’ll get it right for the live performance, so it was never even rehearsed with Prince.
During the live version, Prince is standing off to the side in the dark, holding his Tele-style H.S. Anderson Mad Cat, but just as the song hits the 3:28 mark, he steps out and does a solo on the fly that people still talk about today. He is on fire! George Harrison’s son Dhani is beaming, and Tom Petty said, “You see me nodding at him, to say, ‘Go on, go on, I remember I leaned out at him at one point and gave him a ‘This is going great!’ kind of look. He just burned it up. You could feel the electricity of ‘something really big’s going down here.”
And for the big finish, Prince throws his guitar up over his head without looking, and it never comes down! Tom Petty’s drummer Steve Ferrone said, “I didn’t even see who caught it. I just saw it go up, and I was astonished that it didn’t come back down again. Everybody wonders where that guitar went, and I gotta tell you, I was on the stage, and I wonder where it went, too.”
Check out this amazing performance, and the look of sheer joy on everyone’s face, including Prince.