MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s been nearly a year since iconic Minnesota musician Prince passed away inside his Paisley Park complex, and now we’re looking back at five of his greatest performances that prove he was one of the greatest performers of the 20th and 21st century.
Super Bowl XLI Halftime Show — 2007
Prince’s Super Bowl performance in 2007 will not only go down as one of his greatest performances, but possibly the greatest Super Bowl performance by any artist. It’s got everything: Prince, an actual downpour of rain during Purple Rain and an epic guitar solo that melts faces faster than rain melts the Wicked Witch of the West.
Prince reportedly didn’t even get a chance to rehearse this. While big name musicians played “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at George Harrison’s induction the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, Prince … well, he stood in the shadows for most of it. But when he stepped up for the solo at the end, he nailed it and stole the show in only a way Prince could. And his guitar throw disappearing trick sealed it in history.
Simply put, this performance is ridiculous. There’s so much packed into it that it basically requires multiple viewings.
WCCO’s web content manager Eric Henderson puts it best: “I love everything about it … the acrobatics, the choreography, the cameo by The Time, the descent in to total mutant funk at the end with half the audience in a gaudy ’80s mosh pit on the stage, and the triumphant, blouse-shedding victory lap down the aisle. This was the apex of the man’s imperial phase. Prince owned the world, and everyone knew it.”
Luckily, a cameraperson caught this moment. It showcases not only Prince’s talent at piano (in this case jazz piano), but also how quickly he can both direct a song and improvise over it.
Prince playing an acoustic version of his 1991 hit, “Cream,” on MTV is a great example of how he could connect to his audience in an extremely intimate way. Throughout the song, he involves the audience, humorously gives them a little shade when they miss his “queues” and cracks them up with the most Prince thing he could ever say: “You know I wrote this while I was looking in the mirror, right?” It’s like he’s playing a small-room show, only to hundreds (if not thousands) of people.
So, what’s your favorite Prince performance? Let us know in the comments below.