With 1984’s Purple Rain (opens in new tab), Prince gave his fans a hint of the shape of things to come. The influence of Jimi Hendrix was writ large everywhere you looked, but never more so than on the title track.
While there was never any doubt about His Purpleness’s killer chops, Purple Rain was the record that really secured his reputation as one of the greats.
One year later, Prince nailed his colors to the psychedelic mast with Around the World in a Day (opens in new tab).
But while the music embraced the style, no one would ever mistake the record as the work of anyone other than Prince.
“Paisley Park” was the best example of his signature groove-based vibe married to a spacey retro feel, while “Raspberry Beret” captured the flavor of the Small Faces’ “Itchycoo Park.”
Fans and critics were initially wrong-footed by his deep-dive into ’60s sensibilities, but Prince clearly relished employing a much more rock-focused approach that let him showcase some of his greatest soloing, particularly on “Temptation.”
Although he moved away from the more obviously retro approach, Sign o’ the Times (opens in new tab) had a couple of tracks that continued his dabblings, particularly “Starfish and Coffee” and “The Cross.”
"Prince was a great guitarist and he was a showman,” ex-New Power Generation guitarist Mike Scott told Guitar Player.
“He knew how to bring a crowd to their knees – so I would color outside the lines. I would take solos that had more theory behind them as opposed to just doing crazy pentatonic stuff like he’d been doing forever.”
Last year, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (opens in new tab) released a remastered edit of Prince’s jaw-dropping "While My Guitar Gently Weeps” performance.
Alongside Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood and Dhani Harrison, Prince steals the show at the 2004 Induction Ceremony with his typically dazzling display of fretboard finesse.
Browse the Prince catalog here (opens in new tab).
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Mark is a freelance writer with particular expertise in the fields of ‘70s glam, punk, rockabilly and classic ‘50s rock and roll. He sings and plays guitar in his own musical project, Star Studded Sham, which has been described as sounding like the hits of T. Rex and Slade as played by Johnny Thunders. He had several indie hits with his band, Private Sector and has worked with a host of UK punk luminaries. Mark also presents themed radio shows for Generating Steam Heat. He has just completed his first novel, The Bulletproof Truth, and is currently working on the sequel.
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