The Story Behind Prince's Epic "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" Guitar Solo

How a rumored snub led to one of rock's greatest moments.

September 4, 2019
Categories: 

There's certain instances where you watch a jaw-dropping performance and immediately want to share it with the world, regardless of the time period it took place. This is one of those times.

Related: Prince: An Unmatchable Run Of B-Sides

At the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, an all-star band was put together to celebrate George Harrison's induction. Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, Dhani Harrison, and Prince were among the artists making up the band. Performing The Beatles classic ,"While My Guitar Gently Weeps," Prince's guitar solo at the end of the song spans three minutes and represents some of his finest work.

Rumor has it that Prince utilized the national stage to show off his guitar chops after not being named to Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. While this has never been confirmed, you could reasonably see how this would be the case with the emotion he played with.

The New York Times published a fascinating account of how it all came together back in 2016. Essentially, Joel Gallen (producer and director of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony) thought of the idea of bringing everyone up on stage to perform the track with Prince taking the solos. Prince was inducted into the Hall of Fame that year, which is how Gallen got the idea. 

After trading back and forth's with Prince's team, Gallen got confirmation that Prince would take part in the "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" finale. During rehearsals for the performance, one of Jeff Lynne's guitarists took the solos that Prince was supposed to take. While this was going on, Prince silently stood at the side of the stage strumming rhythm guitar. 

Gallen was furious recounting, “This cannot be happening. I don’t even know if we’re going to get another rehearsal with him. But this guy cannot be playing the solos throughout the song.”

After having a conversation with Prince, Gallen was reassured that he would play the solo at the end. Prince told Gallen not to worry about it, however, there were no more rehearsals. "And then he leaves," Gallen recounted.

"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."

What resulted is the finest performance in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's history showcasing Prince's masterful guitar work. He didn't need a publication to name him one of the greats, he showed why right then and there.

Classic Prince.