George and Ringo Rocked ‘While My Guitar…’ at 1987 Prince’s Trust Rock Gala

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George Harrison and Ringo Starr arriving on stage at the 1987 Prince’s Trust Rock Gala at London’s Wembley Arena

Since 1976, The Prince’s Trust has been a global network of charities founded by then-Prince Charles. Not long after he assumed the throne in 2022 as King Charles III, the organization was renamed The King’s Trust Group, supporting young people in more than 20 countries around the world. As of 2024, it has enabled over 1.2 million to continue their education, start careers and build businesses – including over 100,000 outside the U.K.

The first Prince’s Trust Rock Gala was held in 1982 and the lineups for subsequent events included many of the biggest names in British rock. The concert on June 5, 1987 was held at London’s Wembley Arena and featured performances by Alison Moyet (“Invisible”), Ben E. King (“Stand By Me”), and a six-song set by then- 27-year-old Bryan Adams, in which he was joined by Dave Edmunds for a cover of Dion’s “The Wanderer.”

Phil Collins, just 36, was joined by Paul Young for four cover songs including three from the Four Tops.

Elton John appeared to be a bit nervous when he introduced two of the evening’s biggest stars. “These nights are something special, not sure for you, but for us,” he said. “And tonight, [for] everybody on this stage, it’s a special night. Because to play [with] these next two people is like a dream come true. Because, by Jove, without them, there wouldn’t be us. So, would you please give a wonderful reception… raise the roof… to Mr. George Harrison… Mr. Ringo Starr!”

The pair of Beatles arrived on stage, and reacted to the thunderous applause with both arms raised. Soon, the first familiar notes of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” were heard. John himself was also part of the song’s star-studded lineup, joining such fellow legends as Eric Clapton, Jeff Lynne, Phil Collins, among others. To continue to put things in context, Harrison, whose voice sounded magnificent, was still just 44. He was in the process of recording his Cloud Nine album with Lynne, along with many of the evening’s guests.

Related: Another memorable performance of the song took place at the 2004 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony

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