Watch a New Director’s Cut of Prince’s Blistering “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” Guitar Solo (2004)

Recent­ly, I was walk­ing with a young rel­a­tive who, upon pass­ing a mur­al of the late Prince Rogers Nel­son, looked up at me and asked, “who is that?,” where­upon my eyes grew wide as saucers and I began the tale of a musi­cal hero who con­quered every instru­ment, every musi­cal style, every chord and scale, etc. It was a sto­ry fit for young ears, mind you, but myth­ic enough, I guess, that it inspired my rel­a­tive to stop me mid-sen­tence and ask in awe, “was he a god?” To which I stam­mered, caught off guard, “well, kind of…..”

Human­ly flawed though he was, Prince comes as close as any recent fig­ure to musi­cal divin­i­ty in the flesh. He seemed to con­jure and cre­ate effort­less­ly, ex nihi­lo, nev­er seem­ing to tire and always look­ing as though he just stepped off of a cloud. Now we know a lit­tle more about the source of some of that seren­i­ty, but it dimin­ish­es his leg­end not one bit. If not a god, he was at least some sort of wiz­ard.

Prince’s famous­ly epic live solo at the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induc­tion Cer­e­mo­ny in the star-packed jam­boree cov­er of George Harrison’s “While My Gui­tar Gen­tly Weeps” holds up as a won­drous­ly suc­cinct case in point to show the chil­dren. Now, the per­for­mance has been re-edit­ed in a “director’s cut” by the broadcast’s orig­i­nal direc­tor Joel Gallen. Thom Dunn at Boing Boing quotes his expla­na­tion: “there were sev­er­al shots that were both­er­ing me. I got rid of the dis­solves and made them all cuts, and added lots more close ups of Prince dur­ing his solo.” (See the orig­i­nal below.)

“For­tu­nate­ly,” notes Dunn, “Gallen pre­served the dis­ap­pear­ing gui­tar at the end.” No one knows to this day where the gui­tar went, not even Tom Pet­ty and the Heart­break­ers drum­mer Steve Fer­rone, who was on stage behind Prince at the time. The stunt was unre­hearsed, and so was every­thing about the solo — no one had any idea what was going to hap­pen, a fright­en­ing prospect on live tele­vi­sion but a risk one must take, I sup­pose, when work­ing with the Pur­ple One.

In 2016, Gallen told The New York Times the sto­ry, worth quot­ing in full, of the performance’s rehearsal, a moment of pri­vate humil­i­ty from Prince behind his live bravu­ra show onstage.

The Pet­ty rehearsal was lat­er that night. And at the time I’d asked him to come back, there was Prince; he’d shown up on the side of the stage with his gui­tar. He says hel­lo to Tom and Jeff and the band. When we get to the mid­dle solo, where Prince is sup­posed to do it, Jeff Lyn­ne’s gui­tar play­er just starts play­ing the solo. Note for note, like Clap­ton. And Prince just stops and lets him do it and plays the rhythm, strums along. And we get to the big end solo, and Prince again steps for­ward to go into the solo, and this guy starts play­ing that solo too! Prince does­n’t say any­thing, just starts strum­ming, plays a few leads here and there, but for the most part, noth­ing mem­o­rable.

They fin­ish, and I go up to Jeff and Tom, and I sort of hud­dle up with these guys, and I’m like: “This can­not be hap­pen­ing. I don’t even know if we’re going to get anoth­er rehearsal with him. [Prince]. But this guy can­not be play­ing the solos through­out the song.” So I talk to Prince about it, I sort of pull him aside and had a pri­vate con­ver­sa­tion with him, and he was like: “Look, let this guy do what he does, and I’ll just step in at the end. For the end solo, for­get the mid­dle solo.” And he goes, “Don’t wor­ry about it.” And then he leaves. They nev­er rehearsed it, real­ly. Nev­er real­ly showed us what he was going to do, and he left, basi­cal­ly telling me, the pro­duc­er of the show, not to wor­ry. And the rest is his­to­ry. It became one of the most sat­is­fy­ing musi­cal moments in my his­to­ry of watch­ing and pro­duc­ing live music.

No, kid, he wasn’t a god, just a guy who could do things no one else could. He was a genius.

via Boing Boing / Laugh­ing Squid

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Prince Plays a Mind-Blow­ing Gui­tar Solo On “While My Gui­tar Gen­tly Weeps”

Watch Prince Per­form “Pur­ple Rain” in the Rain in His Tran­scen­dent Super Bowl Half-Time Show (2007)

Prince’s First Tele­vi­sion Inter­view (1985)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (10)
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  • Janet Tipper says:

    AWESOME !!! Thank You For This Gift !!!

  • Kim Katjang says:

    ThankU 4 this, both the clip and the back­sto­ry. A friend­ly reminder of a RARE GENIUS GEM. SHARED.

  • Bob Boucher says:

    Decid­ed to give it anoth­er try. Some seri­ous­ly tedious gui­tar wankers going on. I’ll try ig again in anoth­er 10 years, maybe it will sound bet­ter then

  • says:

    Tuyó? Cual parte? Usa tu imag­i­nación.

  • Howard Holder says:

    I seen Prince in con­cert three times and the thing that always amazed me was how great a gui­tar play­er he was. This has to be one of the great­est gui­tar solos period.The man was tru­ly gift­ed a genius I don’t think any­body comes close to him. Some of the stuff on Crys­tal Ball and 3121 and The Rain­bow Chil­dren are just absolute­ly great songs

  • Diana DeMillo says:

    How my Heart gen­tly Leaps !!
    Love and miss you George, Tom
    and Prince. So thank­ful all this music has been left for us all.
    What a gift.

  • Diana DeMillo says:

    How my Heart gen­tly Leaps !!
    Love and miss you George, Tom
    and Prince. So thank­ful all this music has been left for us all.

  • Mustafa says:

    I Am a Prince Fan. One of the Best of All time! Gui­tarist, Pianist, Drum­mer. The list goes on. The Solo he Cre­at­ed took the World by Sur­prise. With no rehearsal or prac­tice absolute­ly Amaz­ing! My young Bee­tle held his owm with some of the Great­est over the shoul­der strap­pers ever­too play a string instru­ment. Mon­u­men­tal! RIP PRINCE TO KING!!!

  • Billy says:

    Prince is good but the per­son who wrote the arti­cle sucks as a writer.

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