What Happened to Prince’s Guitar After His Iconic Solo During George Harrison’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction?
George Harrison would have loved how his second induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame turned out. George didn’t really like receiving awards, mostly because he didn’t see what he did with music as a career. He didn’t like fame and all that it brought him. However, George would have enjoyed his induction because it became something bigger than him and his music. All thanks to Prince.
After George’s friends, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne welcomed him posthumously into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame once again, they paid tribute to him in a performance of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” The tribute became one of the most famous Rock & Roll Hall of Fame performances ever. Not because it was a celebration of George, but because Prince gave an outstanding, unexpected, 3-minute guitar solo that transcended everything at that moment. George would have loved that his induction became a place where a solo like Prince’s could happen.
Prince was his usual mysterious self leading up to his iconic solo
Petty, Lynne, members of their respective bands (the Heartbreakers and ELO), Steve Winwood, and George’s only son, Dhani, were set to play during George’s posthumous induction performance. However, Joel Gallen, the producer and director of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony, thought it’d be wonderful if Prince joined as well.
Prince was a fellow inductee that year, so it would be easy to get him. Prince agreed to join after a couple of meetings, even though he was unsure who’d “own” the performance.
When it came time for rehearsals, Prince was vague on if he’d show. He did, but His Purple Highness didn’t do much rehearsing. See, Prince had a master plan, as he did with virtually everything in his life. Prince planned to “half-gas” the rehearsals so that when it came time for the big show, he could put his foot on the gas full throttle and surprise everyone with a 3-minute guitar solo that would melt faces.
Dhani was the only one that saw it coming. “He turned up at soundcheck and he was really nice, very shy, but I was the only one that was talking to him, and I got the sense that he was holding back, he wasn’t gonna play like that in the real thing,” Dhani told Esquire. “I said to Tom, ‘He’s being really nice, but he’s gonna come and blow us offstage later.’ And they said whatever, it’s gonna be great, whatever he does is going to be brilliant—it’s Prince, so obviously we’re not going to stop him.”
Prince threw his guitar out into the crowd after his 3-minute solo
After he completely shocked everyone in the room with his solo, Prince threw his guitar out into the audience and smoothly exited the stage without a backward glance. Even Prince’s fellow musicians on the stage didn’t see the guitar land anywhere. The New York Times wrote, “It never appeared to land; it was almost as if Mr. Harrison had grabbed it himself in midair to signal, ‘That’s enough of that.'”
Steve Ferrone, the drummer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, who played that night, said, “Everybody wonders where that guitar went, and I gotta tell you, I was on the stage, and I wonder where it went, too.”
Prince might have been mysterious, but he didn’t have the power to throw his guitar into another dimension. The AV Club writes, “For years, people have wondered where that guitar ended up, whether it was in the hands of a lucky fan, carefully delivered back to Paisley Park, or grabbed by some celestial being and blasted into stardust.”
No, the guitar didn’t end up in any of these places. According to The Current, Prince instructed his guitar tech Takumi Suetsugu to catch the guitar at the end of the performance. However, there was another task Prince wanted Suetsugu to carry out after he caught the guitar.
The guitar was given to Oprah Winfrey
Prince told Suetsugu that he was to hand the guitar to none other than Oprah Winfrey. The AV Club guesses that Prince and the famous talk show host must have had an agreement that she’d get the guitar before Prince took to the stage.
Or maybe, after melting the faces of the audience with his pre-meditated performance, the Purple One knew that particular guitar was going to be worth a pretty penny one day. So, he wanted it in safe hands. Who really knew with Prince, though.
However, all we do know is that Prince made that guitar truly weep during “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” It’s a classic Prince moment that exemplifies his absolute swagger and precise guitar throwing. George would have been proud.