Billy Gibbons & Prince Walk Into A Bar.

mtm105

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...-gibbons-on-prince-the-sensational-guitarist/

Prince’s guitar-slinging skills were no secret. Whether at the Super Bowl, stealing a Rock Hall all-star jam or on his records, he could play it all. But to hear ZZ Top’s legendary frontman Billy Gibbons tell it, Prince wasn’t just a great guitar player. He was downright otherworldly. Gibbons spoke to The Post Friday about the guitar player who could stump even him.

So much has been said about Prince but I do think it’s important to remember that his guitar playing was, I don’t know, just sensational. Tell me how you’d describe it.

Well, to borrow your word, sensational is about as close a description of Prince’s guitar playing as words might allow. I believe that the feeling one was left with, if afforded the luxury of actually seeing Prince perform … we’d be looking for other superlatives. Because it’s almost got to the point of defying description.

You had an interesting encounter with Prince.

It was following the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th anniversary celebration [in 2009]. They had a two night grand hurrah at Madison Square Garden and I was invited to perform with Jeff Beck. And following that appearance, I found myself back at the hotel and I wandered off in search of some late-night grub and my favorite 24-hour joint was shut down for unknown reasons. I tiptoed across the street to the Tiger Bar. I was just standing at the front and I was approached by a rather large gentleman and he said, ‘You’re wanted at the corner table.’ And there was Prince sitting all by his lonesome. And I gave him a brief tip of the hat and sat down and said, ‘Hey man, it’s so good to see you.’ He said, ‘It’s so good to see you. Let’s talk about guitar playing.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ And in the next two hours we really dove into the depth of his intent, interest and focus toward technique and tone. I left that evening even more mesmerized than I’d previously been, just knowing the sincerity that Prince kept toward his playing, his performing and his all-around showmanship.

You’re a little bit older, you come from Texas and I’d imagine you first learned about Prince in the early ’80s, when you were both MTV stars.

As you may remember, he began bubbling up without a lot of advance fanfare. There was just this vague knowledge of this new guy on the scene called Prince. And then, of course, we all got our world rocked when “Purple Rain” showed up at the theaters. Even today, I’m struggling to try and emulate that guitar introduction to “When Doves Cry.” It’s just a testament to his extraordinary technique.

Wait. When you say emulate — you mean you try to play it and you can’t?

I continually come back to attempting to piece together each and every one of those segments. And it’s very short. It’s not an extended solo by any means. But the way it is delivered. There’s certainly no way to write it. You’ve just got to dive in and feel it to see if you could come close. This might be a little off the subject, but just this morning, Andy Langer sent me a link to Prince on YouTube performing “Honky Tonk Woman.” I had never seen it. I don’t know if there’s a fixed date that could be attached to it. I would encourage you to check it out. Here, within the four minute time span, you really get a sense of urgency that was behind his dedication to playing.

Yes, three. That’s a very particular word. Prince is somebody we always thought of as flash, beautiful, almost touched by something otherworldly. But when I hear the word technique, I think of practice, intellect, study.

Yes, and we can only surmise that there were a great number of hours in private where he was developing ways to approach the guitar that ultimately led to his prowess over the instrument. I bring this up over the years. My friendship with Prince was made known. There was hardly a day that went by if Prince’s name came up in the conversation, little did they give credit to his guitar playing. It was more about the flash. The showiness. There are a few repeatable examples that were fortunately caught on film or record that will settle the score once and for all. When I sat down with Prince that fateful evening in Manhattan, he was really touched by the fact that I knew quite a bit of his guitar playing … It was so funny because there was a legion of Brazilian carnival dancers that had invaded the club and they had taken over the bar. They were dancing on the bar … this was all going on in the background. Prince was unfettered. He just wanted to talk about playing.

I wonder if because he had so much style, whether he ever felt that his playing was overshadowed.

Oh yeah. In fact, that entered the conversation. He asked me, ‘Does your beard get in the way like some of my costumes?’ And I was stunned momentarily and I thought about it and said, ‘You know, perhaps so.’ But then he grabbed my arm and said, ‘Don’t get me wrong, I’m okay with it.’

Last thing. That night, two hours of guitar talk. Is there anything specifically you remember telling him or him telling you about basically how to play?


I don’t know about anything that specific. I was quite flattered that he knew specific song titles that had a specific guitar sound. He said, I’ve really enjoyed some of the work that showed up on that monster hit of yours, “Eliminator,” the sound of “Gimme All Your Lovin’” He went on to cite a number of titles. I said, ‘Okay, I could give you some amplifier settings, I could give you some guitar strings.’ I said, ‘Why don’t you tell me about ‘When Doves Cry’? He just smiled. ‘That one gets me too.’

I didn’t know how to take that. Was he was suggesting he stumbled upon it by accident or he didn’t have words to describe it? I’m just happy to know that he took it as a compliment.
 

jack daniels

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I don't think that anyone denies Prince's prowess with a guitar however, I was a little taken aback by his performance on the Tribute Concert for George Harrison when he became a "stage hog" in the parlance of another thread on the MF. It's called "common courtesy" for which he had none of at that specific time.
 

rick16v

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Nah, the stage was filled with a bunch of has beens unimaginatively playing by numbers in a very dull manner that bored the hell out of everyone. Prince came along and made the "tribute" memorable.

If someone was covering your work, would you want a dull parrot like imitation, or someone to invest in it and make it an occasion to remember...
 

jack daniels

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Nah, the stage was filled with a bunch of has beens unimaginatively playing by numbers in a very dull manner that bored the hell out of everyone.

We're not talking about jamming out to a "Tribute to Yngwie Malmsteen Concert" here. If you consider George Harrison's songs as unimaginative play by numbers in a very dull manner tunes, then you're watching the wrong concert, maybe "The Tribute to Iron Maiden Concert" or something of that ilk.

Prince came along and made the "tribute" memorable.

Oh he made it memorable alright, for a lack of common courtesy to a legend and that legend's closest friends and family. What really needs to happen, is when the "Tribute to Prince" comes out is to have say Brent Mason or Johnny Hiland to come out and jam and take over the stage, same analogy.

If someone was covering your work, would you want a dull parrot like imitation, or someone to invest in it and make it an occasion to remember...

Oh it was memorable alright but, not for the reasons that you convey.
 

Frodebro

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I don't think that anyone denies Prince's prowess with a guitar however, I was a little taken aback by his performance on the Tribute Concert for George Harrison when he became a "stage hog" in the parlance of another thread on the MF. It's called "common courtesy" for which he had none of at that specific time.

Prince didn't perform at the Concert For George, it was the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame anniversary concert, and Prince was brought in with the knowledge that he would be himself, which is exactly what he did. Many people raved about his solo, many poo-pooed it as being too flashy or not true to the original. But when you invite Prince to to play, Prince is exactly what you're going to get. The organizers were well aware of this.
 

delstele

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I don't think that anyone denies Prince's prowess with a guitar however, I was a little taken aback by his performance on the Tribute Concert for George Harrison when he became a "stage hog" in the parlance of another thread on the MF. It's called "common courtesy" for which he had none of at that specific time.

Hmm I wounder could you play like that with that feel and conjecture?..

I think the man was bigger than the music he played.. meaning he could take any melody and make it his own.. Can you do that? make it sound like you made it up, make it your own?

He was one of the few on the planet that could I truly believe that was the intent when he was asked to do the show..
 

rick16v

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PRINCE IN FLAMBOYANT STAGE PERFORMANCE SHOCKER.

Startled band members said: "we thought he would blend into the background and play rhythm on an acoustic guitar, possibly just root notes."

A disappointed audience member was quoted as saying: "we didn't come here to see a spectacle, we wanted dull."

The promoters have apologised to the audience stating "if we'd known he was like this, we would have stuck with Nickelback."
 
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lordquilton

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I don't think that anyone denies Prince's prowess with a guitar however, I was a little taken aback by his performance on the Tribute Concert for George Harrison when he became a "stage hog" in the parlance of another thread on the MF. It's called "common courtesy" for which he had none of at that specific time.

With respect Jack Daniels, I have to disagree.
I just watched again on Youtube, my observations-

There's only 2 guys on the stage in a position to solo, the guy on the far left with the Strat (great player wish I knew his name), and Prince.
(Yeah Jeff Lynne is no slouch on the guitar, but even with the tele he doesn't seem rigged out or interested in soloing.)

Strat guy does fills and a super tasty solo, essentially has free reign for the first 3 and a half minutes.
At that point, the song enters the outro section, and Dhani Harrison gives Prince a smile and a nod that says "You go boy!"

Prince is at the front of the stage yes, but after the first 3 turnarounds he regularly looks to his right and checks in with the other guitar players;
it seems to me like everyone is happy for him to continue, though Tom Petty looks a bit freaked out there at one point.

I have to admit though, the whole chucking the guitar and walking off stage at the end didn't exactly make him look like a "team player"! :hmm:
 

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