There are few things better than Prince’s guitar solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” from the 2004 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Sure, parents will say, but “what of my baby’s head? Have you smelled it?” Has your baby ever finished one of the greatest solos ever by magically making a guitar vanish into the ether? Didn’t think so. Sorry to say, but compared to this solo, your baby’s head smells like pure trash.
The 2004 clip is beloved online, inspiring reaction videos, musical breakdowns, and re-uploads of the classic performance. Part of the reason for its popularity is the fact that Prince doesn’t just upstage a couple of schlubs. His bandmates for this rendition of George Harrison’s signature Beatles tune include Harrison’s fellow Traveling Wilburys Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, as well as Steve Winwood and George Harrison’s son, Dhani Harrison. But it’s pretty clear that everyone is pretty psyched on what Prince is throwing down, and frankly, they should be because it absolutely rules. Plus, he’s got that hat, which is kind of the unsung hero of the whole performance.
The all-star jam has been a YouTube regular for more than a decade, going viral every few months to remind us all of how great Prince was. Now, it’s back, and it’s got more Prince than ever. Director Joel Gallen, who helmed the 2004 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony, recently shared a new version of the performance on YouTube, which has even more of his royal badness. Gallen writes in the YouTube description:
17 years after this stunning performance by Prince, I finally had the chance to go in and re-edit it slightly – since there were several shots that were bothering me. I got rid of all the dissolves and made them all cuts, and added lots more close ups of Prince during his solo. I think it’s better now.
The legendary solo ends with Prince tossing the guitar into the air and the guitar, um, never comes down. Obviously, it’s one of the coolest moves in the history of rock and roll. But also, it’s something of a mystery. In 2016, the New York Times published an oral history of the performance, and Heartbreakers drummer Steve Ferrone, who played on stage with Prince, said he’s not sure what became of the guitar:
It was a hell of a guitar solo, and a hell of a show he actually put on for the band. When he fell back into the audience, everybody in the band freaked out, like, “Oh my God, he’s falling off the stage!” And then that whole thing with the guitar going up in the air. 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.
As it turns out, though, the guitar is probably in Oprah’s possession. Go figure.