I’ve never been sure which is stupider…the ‘Stupid Club’ that Kurt Cobain’s mother ineffectually warned her son against or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I know that people who I respect/are entertained by/have integrity (Talking Heads and, presumably, others, see below) have been inducted into this virtual fame bedecked space…I imagine something Valhalla-like – a vast, (yet non-existent) towering chamber, its ceiling lost behind supernatural internal clouds. Like a gothic Houston Astrodome.
After the sad demise of Prince I followed up on two links. One came via Jonny Trunk and is Prince’s appearance on the Muppett Show…a masterclass in the transcendence of cool. I cannot now trace or remember how I linked to the second. This one shows Prince’s performance at his Induction Ceremony at the aforementioned Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 and is a tribute to George Harrison. It features Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Stevie Winwood chugging their way dutifully through Harrison’s ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’. They all look fairly bored by the process, Prince included. Then about 3 and a half minutes in the Artist Formerly Known As gets his guitar solo and the whole scene changes with Petty, Lynne et al looking like a mildly competent backing band and the lead guitarist showing, spectacularly, what lead guitars can do….even to the point of playing while theatrically falling from the stage to be caught by a, presumably forewarned, handler. Here is the video:
If you have not watched that yet this is a spoiler alert. What is, maybe, more extraordinary about Prince’s performance is how he finishes the piece. As the song closes he unstraps his guitar and throws it vertically into the air. This is a kind of reversal of a Townsend/Hendrix act of destruction, especially as here the guitar never reappears. Either there is yet another handler suspended in the lighting rig who has been briefed to catch any instruments that are launched upwards…or what? The film runs on long enough for the guitar to re-enter the frame but it never comes down. I like to think of it circling in that huge void along with George Harrison, David Bowie and now, the man himself. Prince and guitar reunited at last.