Confession time. I had fallen behind a little bit again in my 52 Guitarists series and then news hit of Prince’s passing. That threw a spanner in my works for a few reasons. Firstly, Prince was the next intended entry in this series—the list of 52 has already been compiled and has been for some time now. Secondly, I didn’t want to appear to be attempting to benefit with this article through Prince’s passing. Finally, the 52 Guitarists series to date had only featured living guitarists and I really didn’t want to change that with Prince. There are guitarists to come in the list that are deceased of course, but they’ve been deceased for quite some time now.
I decided to take some some time before publishing this article out of respect and also to reconsider my approach to this particular entry. On that note I eventually decided to write the entry almost as I’d intended on writing it prior to Prince’s passing. So with that in mind, let’s look at the reasons I consider Prince to be an incredibly inspirational guitarist.
First and foremost, Prince was a performer—and not just from a guitarist perspective obviously. A large part of Prince’s appeal to me was his passion for music. That passion was contagious and appeared most obvious to me when he was playing guitar. He especially had a way of holding a note for an incredibly long period of time in a way that made the technique appear highly technical.
Actually, when that note is part of a quick bend, there is an absolute amount of skill required, but Prince made that appear effortless.
Finding Prince footage on the Internet had been rather difficult over the years. There are many stories of Prince having videos of himself performing removed from networks such as YouTube. Knowing that, I originally intended on only featuring one video in this article. It’s a video that has been available for a long time now. I will still end with that intended video because it will forever remain as my key memory of Prince and his guitar playing.
Edit: Prince videos continue to get uploaded and removed, so I will end with the one video that seems to remain. It’s honestly my favourite video anyway. I hope it’s never removed.
The video that has blown my mind for years and will continue to do so for as long as I am passionate about all-things guitar is Prince’s performance at the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Prince was one of many performers participating in what I’d call a near-perfect cover of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. The enjoyment that Prince seems to have brought to all on the stage that day is inspiring.
I will always watch this video and believe this is what music feels like.
This is not a top guitarists list and there is no significance in the order the guitarists are placed in the list. This is simply a collection of guitarists that have been influential to me.