The Epic Guitar Performance by Prince at the 2004 Rock Hall Induction Ceremony

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Tom Petty, Dhani Harrison and Prince perform “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at the 2004 Rock Hall induction

The inductees at the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were a truly star-studded group: Jackson Browne, the Dells, Prince, Bob Seger, Traffic, Jann Wenner and ZZ Top. And George Harrison, for his post-Beatles solo work.

When it came to honoring the “Quiet Beatle” at the induction ceremony, held at New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, on March 15 of that year, an all-star lineup took to the stage to perform Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Among those onstage were Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne and Dhani Harrison, who uncannily resembles his father.

The official video has been on the Rock Hall’s official YouTube channel since 2012. As of March 2023, it’s been viewed more than 120 million times.

17 years after the brilliant performance, Joel Gallen, who produced and directed the event, created a Director’s Cut of the clip. As he notes, “I probably shouldn’t tamper with something as sacred as this epic performance.” But he did, nonetheless. “Even if nobody else notices, I do, and I feel much better about it now,” he says.

The revised version of the Rock Hall performance includes plenty of close-ups of Prince.

Best Classic Bands asked him: why now? “It was just one of those things – that it’s been seen millions of times over the years on-line, and every time I personally saw it, I would start thinking about shots that I wished I could change for whatever reason,” he says. “So I finally reached out to the Rock Hall and asked them if they would send me all the recorded cameras (the isos) so I can do a new edit – and they gladly obliged. I think it’s much better now.”

Watch both versions below.

Petty and Lynne share lead vocals. And from the Hall’s original clip, although we don’t even recognize him until a brief appearance shortly after the 2:00 mark, it’s fellow ’04 inductee Prince who steals the show with an absolutely blistering guitar solo. From 3:28 on, it’s all Prince and the joy on Dhani Harrison’s face is something to behold.

The performance becomes a celebration of Harrison’s life and career, less than three years after his untimely death on November 29, 2001.

We first shared this with our readers in November 2015. When Prince passed on April 21, 2016, it began to show up all over the Internet.

Watch the original clip

Heartbreakers’ drummer Steve Ferrone, was quoted by the New York Times in 2016, “I had no idea that Prince was going to be there. Steve Winwood said, ‘Hey, Prince is over there.’ And I said, ‘I guess he’s playing with us?’

“So I wandered across the stage and I went up to him and I said, ‘Hi, Prince, it’s nice to meet you — Steve Ferrone.’ And he said, ‘Oh, I know who you are!’ Maybe because I’d played on Chaka Khan’s ‘I Feel for You,’ which is a song that he wrote. I went back over and I sat down behind the drum kit, and Winwood was like: ‘What’s he like? What’d he say?'”

“We get to the rehearsal the night before the show at the Waldorf Astoria,” Gallen told the Times. “Prince’s rehearsal was actually earlier — he rehearsed his big 10-, 12-minute medley that opened the show.

The Prince solo during the actual Rock Hall performance

“The Petty rehearsal was later that night. And at the time I’d asked him to come back, there was Prince; he’d shown up on the side of the stage with his guitar. He says hello to Tom and Jeff and the band. When we get to the middle solo, where Prince is supposed to do it, Jeff Lynne’s guitar player just starts playing the solo. Note for note, like Clapton. And Prince just stops and lets him do it and plays the rhythm, strums along. And we get to the big end solo, and Prince again steps forward to go into the solo, and this guy starts playing that solo too! Prince doesn’t say anything, just starts strumming, plays a few leads here and there, but for the most part, nothing memorable.

“So I talk to Prince about it, I sort of pull him aside and had a private conversation with him, and he was like: ‘Look, let this guy do what he does, and I’ll just step in at the end. For the end solo, forget the middle solo.’ And he goes, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ And then he leaves. They never rehearsed it, really. Never really showed us what he was going to do, and he left, basically telling me, the producer of the show, not to worry.

“And the rest is history. It became one of the most satisfying musical moments in my history of watching and producing live music.”

Best Classic Bands asked Gallen if he had any insight on how some of the fellow legends thought of Prince’s performance. “I think it’s pretty much documented that Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Dhani Harrison, Steve Winwood – and everyone else on that stage – were blown away. It still holds up as one of the greatest music performances ever captured on television.”

Watch Gallen’s 2021 Director’s Cut

So, what happened to Prince’s guitar? “I was tempted to show what happened in my new edit,” Gallen tells us, “but with so many people still mystified and wondering about that guitar toss, I decided to keep it that way and not reveal what happened to the guitar, and continue to leave it to people’s imagination.”

Related: Listings for 100s of classic rock tours

Gallen directed more than a dozen Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. He did so again in 2020 after not doing the show for several years, and produced and directed the 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Documentary Special for HBO.

He always has a busy calendar. In 2022, he directed the pair of Taylor Hawkins tribute concerts. And in 2023 he produced and directed the Netflix special, Chris Rock: Selective Outrage.

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Best Classic Bands Staff
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28 Comments so far

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  1. Jilly
    #1 Jilly 27 February, 2020, 18:30

    Sorry, but I absolutely despise Prince’s showboating in this video. He was great, but this was neither the time nor place to be such a show-off! I wish people would stop raving so about this.

    Reply this comment
    • Bear
      Bear 16 March, 2020, 19:18

      I read Dahni Harrison thought it was over the top, not a time to be the STAR SHOWBOAT

      Reply this comment
    • Pfunk
      Pfunk 16 March, 2020, 19:39

      Wow. You really dont get it. Haters gonna hate

      Reply this comment
    • Cre
      Cre 11 June, 2020, 03:54

      No one gives a s**t what you think! That guitar solo was epic!

      Reply this comment
    • Mvest40
      Mvest40 29 April, 2021, 10:50

      I think George would have loved it. Am not a big Prince fan but I loved the performance

      Reply this comment
    • Shredder
      Shredder 30 April, 2021, 11:43

      If you can’t appreciate greatness you should just keep the horse sh*t to yourself I’m sure George loved it as much as his son and rest of the world it wasn’t show boating but more along the lines of emince gratitude for the great musician that wrote the song

      Reply this comment
    • Liz
      Liz 30 April, 2021, 12:33

      They attempted to cut him out. You didn’t say anything about that!!!

      Reply this comment
    • Cooch
      Cooch 17 March, 2023, 15:46

      You’re definitely not a music fan and should be ashamed of yourself. Prince’ was inducted in 2004. Did you not see the expression of heartfelt happiness on George’s sons face. That says it all !!

      Reply this comment
  2. Kelli
    #2 Kelli 16 March, 2020, 14:34

    It’s an all time moment in rock history!

    Reply this comment
  3. Stansmith
    #3 Stansmith 16 March, 2020, 18:23

    I’m sorry if you look at the faces of the other great musicians on stage, I dont think they would say he was showboating.

    Reply this comment
    • MSTPS66
      MSTPS66 29 April, 2021, 01:03

      Agreed, they were all having a blast, no question at all. Showboating? Please. It’s a guitar solo.

      Reply this comment
  4. Audiophilephil
    #4 Audiophilephil 16 March, 2020, 20:41

    You are impressed because of that? Other guitarists can play it easily.

    Reply this comment
    • beatseeker
      beatseeker 24 March, 2022, 08:44

      really? i can’t.. and i’ve been picking for 60 years… and showboating? when i played a solo, i stood out front for all to see…

      Reply this comment
  5. Paula
    #5 Paula 10 June, 2020, 20:26

    Prince is Prince. They obviously placed his piece at the end of the performance for a reason. He clearly connected with Dhani and Petty. I believe this was the planned course for this performance. Perfection.

    Reply this comment
  6. MTH
    #6 MTH 16 March, 2021, 05:09

    Great performance by all but the saddest note is that Petty and Prince are both gone. Along with so many other great talented musicians of a creative and groundbreaking era in Rock, with more as time rolls on?? God Bless them all and thanks for sharing your passion!!

    Reply this comment
  7. Flashlarue
    #7 Flashlarue 6 April, 2021, 00:38

    Sounds like a couple wanna b guitarist haters here. Prince was amazing.

    Reply this comment
  8. Lorelei
    #8 Lorelei 29 April, 2021, 00:54

    I absolutely love the first video of that! Prince was AMAZING and you can tell that the other artists on stage were loving it too! Seeing their reactions is part of the fun of that video. As for whether he was “showboating” or not – wouldn’t you want to do your best on George’s song in his memory? George wouldn’t want him to do a bad job with that! He would want everybody rocking out and enjoying his music, which everybody on stage was doing. I miss George Harrison and Tom Petty so much! I love seeing Dhani so much though because he looks so much like his dad.

    Reply this comment
  9. Yvette
    #9 Yvette 29 April, 2021, 01:34

    Prince and Petty… Dearly Miss them Both and their Talent that Can Never be Replaced…
    NO Showboating with this Performance..
    This was just Prince in his Glory Always Enjoying a Good Performance with his Outgoing and Joyful Personality. I only wish Gallen in this New Director’s Cut gave us the Answer as to WHAT happened to Prince’s Guitar in the Guitar Toss?
    Left us with the Unanswered Question..

    Reply this comment
    • KathyOnOBX
      KathyOnOBX 30 April, 2021, 12:15

      I had great fun speculating about what happened to Prince’s guitar for a long time. Alas, turns out he tossed to his staff guy, the fellow he leaned out against in the audience.

      Reply this comment
    • mkross
      mkross 1 December, 2021, 22:28

      That guitar is safely on display in a glass case at Paisley Park.

      Reply this comment
  10. Jarmo Keranen
    #10 Jarmo Keranen 29 April, 2021, 13:13

    There was million notes too much. He slaughtered the whole thing. And before you call me the Prince hater, one of my favorite guitar solos of all time is live version of Purple Rain from March 1985!

    Reply this comment
  11. Polly Ester Velveteen
    #11 Polly Ester Velveteen 29 April, 2021, 19:54

    The big “O” got the guitar!

    Reply this comment
  12. Blanco
    #12 Blanco 29 April, 2021, 22:12

    Not a Prince fan till I saw this . He went with the moment and made it worthy of the Man they were honoring. What a performance by all !

    Reply this comment
  13. SRKI
    #13 SRKI 1 May, 2021, 15:55


    Reply this comment
  14. Jr.
    #14 Jr. 3 May, 2021, 12:29

    So true brings tears to my eyes. One of the best solos ever.

    Reply this comment
  15. Bob
    #15 Bob 1 December, 2021, 20:07

    Nobody could possibly steal the show -but the creator of the best Beatle song of all.
    Prince was amazing as well as entertaining.
    I do recall during the Concert for George, produced by Eric Clapton-there was an agreement on no “showboating” and a strict adherence to a “note by note” performance of George’s songs. The only one who might’ve showboated was Ringo, but there you go, it was just Ringo being Ringo, as it was Prince just being Prince.
    Finally, I felt the directors cut was too distracting- especially where the split screen was used. The first version was much better. For some reason I got the impression that Prince was intentionally sidelined for dramatic effect. There didn’t seem to be any good angles of Prince from the additional cameras and the edits, in the directors cut, reflected this.
    Who knows, maybe Prince was auditioning-posthumously- for a position as the 6th Beatle. (Billy Preston was the 5th)

    Reply this comment

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