2004 saw a re-energised Prince coming in from the commercial cold and seeking to reclaim his throne.
He began the year by performing with Beyonce at the Grammy Awards, and then in April, following a string of largely ignored self-released albums, released the tightly-focused, radio-friendly Musicology with Columbia Records. This led into a sell-out tour of the same name, which confirmed that Prince was very much back on top.
Despite these considerable achievements, for many, the abiding memory of Prince in 2004 will forever be his guitar solo on The Beatles’ While My Guitar Gently Weeps during the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which saw him effortlessly upstaging fellow performers Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood and an awestruck Dhani Harrison.
Never mind the Hall of Fame; in the years since Prince’s death in 2016, this has become the stuff of rock ‘n’ roll legend.
This wasn’t the great man’s only performance that night, though. Earlier in the ceremony, at which he was one of the artists being inducted, Prince had served up a 10-minute medley of some of his greatest hits.
Following the merest tease of Sheila E’s A Love Bizarre and The Glamorous Life and a burst of synth stabs from I Feel For U - all songs that Prince wrote - things got properly started with Let’s Go Crazy.
This was followed by a funked-up version of Sign o’ the Times, in which bassist Rhonda Smith served-up some serious slap.
Things went properly old-school for a moment or two after that, courtesy of a run through the intro from Sam & Dave’s Soul Man, before a seamless transition into closing number Kiss.
“Rock & Roll Hall of Fame thank you so much - you’ve been just lovely, a real knockout,” said Prince as he signed off, perhaps with a note of sarcasm. Despite his ‘knockout’ performance, some have speculated that he wasn’t altogether satisfied with the energy in the room that night.
We’ll never know if this was true or served as motivation for his searing solo later on, but we can’t leave without taking another look back at that performance. Enjoy.