Wed. Sep 27th, 2023

Nils Lofgren recently spoke with Dig about how the E Street Band’s Prince homage came about after one faithful phone call from Bruce Springsteen and how no one in the band knew who would play the classic ‘Purple Rain’ guitar solo on stage. When news of Prince’s death broke seven years ago, the music world was astonished and grieved. Lofgren even recounted the moment he learnt of Prince’s death, saying he couldn’t believe it because Prince appeared to be in good condition and doing well. The E Street Band was on their nationwide River Tour at the time, and Bruce quickly devised a plan to pay tribute to Prince. He called Nils two days after Prince’s death to tell him that they would try to perform ‘Purple Rain’ to commemorate Prince’s life. However, because this plan was announced so abruptly, none of the band members had time to practice.

Nonetheless, Lofgren spread the word among his bandmates and began learning the guitar riff by watching Prince master it in previous gigs on YouTube. However, the contentious question of who would perform the solo on stage remained unanswered until the band began performing it. The rocker said why the Prince homage was spontaneous and why he didn’t know who would play the solo: “The night before [the show], Bruce called me.” ‘Hey, Nils,’ he said. Why don’t you tell the boys that tomorrow we’re going to try our hand at ‘Purple Rain.’ And I told a couple of guys in the band, ‘Hey, just spread the word.’ Bruce remained silent about the subject. And I wasn’t going to ask him since we were on the road, and we were all shaken. The solo might have been played by Steve [Van Zandt], Bruce, or me. So, in case he called on me, I started watching Prince play on YouTube.” Nils made the correct option by learning the solo once Springsteen agreed to let him play it. When it came to putting the chords into play on Prince’s legendary composition, Bruce simply nodded at Lofgren to go ahead, and so he began jamming the rock icon’s riffs and did his best to play them perfectly.

Springsteen chose him to play the guitar solo, according to the guitarist: “We performed the song. Nobody mentioned the solo when it came. When Bruce pointed at me, I began to jam. That preparation paid off because I was familiar with the area… We got a good shot of it.” As a result, the E Street Band’s tribute to Prince was completely unrehearsed, and the band members had no idea who would master the rocker’s riffs on stage; fortunately, the ensemble was harmonious enough to master the tune and do it credit.

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