Prince’s stunning guitar solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony has rightly been hailed as one of the best onstage moments of his career, but what’s often overlooked is that Prince also played a set of his own songs that night. That’s largely because it hasn’t been on YouTube for quite a while, but (at least for now) it’s on the site and definitely worth watching in full.
It was March 15th, 2004 and Prince was entering the Hall of Fame alongside Bob Seger, Traffic, ZZ Top, the Dells and George Harrison. Prince was a week and a half away from launching a massive arena tour, and he used the Hall of Fame to offer the world a little preview of what was to come. The thrilling eleven-minute set kicks off with a tiny bit of Sheila E’s “The Glamorous Life” before launching into “Let’s Go Crazy,” a moving “Sign ‘O’ the Times,” the intro to Sam and Dave’s “Soul Man” (“Hall of Fame!” he cried out. “It’s your song!”) before wrapping up with a super funky “Kiss” that had the entire crowd at the Waldorf Astoria on their feet.
As he often did, he took out the Dynasty references in “Kiss” to reflect modern television. “You don’t have to watch Sex and the City,” he sang, “to have an attitude.” At the end of the one of the greatest sets in Hall of Fame history, he thanked the crowd. “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” he said, “You’ve been just lovely, a real knockout. Good night.” But he wasn’t done. Still to come was the George Harrison tribute, and if Prince is to be believed, he hadn’t even heard “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” until that very morning.