Since news of Prince’s passing hit the wire last week a massive outpouring of public grieving from the world has followed, especially poignant from the music community. Much of that emotion took shape in the form of touching tributes which often included hilarious memories, and what musicians do best: amazing cover versions of the Purple legend’s biggest hits.
To honor the man further, and keep his music alive in memory, we’ve collected our top four Prince tributes, along with a special tribute from Prince himself to George Harrison which will live in the annals of history as one of Prince’s most brilliant onstage moments caught on tape.
D’Angelo (Feat. Princess) — Sometimes It Snows in April
Iconic neo-soul musician D’Angelo teamed up with Maya Rudolph’s vocal group Princess to deliver an emotional tribute on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show. The performance moved Tonight Show bandleader/Roots drummer Questlove to tears, according to a tweet following the song. A slow piano ballad during which D’Angelo himself missed a lyric out of emotional stress, the musical tribute is honest and powerful — the kind of performance that leaps through the screen.
Stevie Wonder — Purple Rain
“I surely can’t sing one of Prince’s songs. I can just do a little bit maybe,” Stevie Wonder said before delivering a beautifully candid version of Purple Rain on a stringed-instrument called a harpejji. The song might be incomplete, but the sentiment isn’t, and the power of Prince’s music can be felt throughout the short clip from a fellow R&B hero.
Chris Stapleton — Nothing Compares 2U
One of the most surprising renditions of the Minneapolis rocker’s catalog came from country up-and-comer Chris Stapleton, whose numerous songwriting honors of late indicate he knows a good song when he sees one. Stapleton and his band played their southern jukebox version of Nothing Compares 2U to a roaring crowd in Berkeley California on the Saturday after Prince’s passing. A powerfully-sung version which sheds new light on the brilliance of Prince’s songwriting, this recording isn’t one to miss. And it just goes to show: Prince affected everyone, everywhere.
Bruce Springsteen — Purple Rain
Songwriting legends are becoming increasingly hard to come by these days, and Bruce Springsteen probably feels that more than anyone. In this video, Springsteen consults with his band before launching into a gently-strummed version of Purple Rain on a fittingly purple-lit stage. Well harmonized, perfectly-layered, and complete with a shredding guitar solo from Nils Lofgren, the song ends with a massive singalong with Springsteen’s stadium audience — a tribute which is certainly worthy of the fallen pop icon.
Prince, Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne and more — While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Many musicians will try, but nobody will ever top Prince’s own tribute to another icon, a version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps which was dedicated to the memory of Beatles guitarist George Harrison at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. A burning rendition of the classic song which features a host of other musical icons in the mix, this recording showcases Prince’s other-worldly guitar skills as the artist rips an extended solo that will go down as one of music’s most brilliant.
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