The ‘Ugly’ Secret Behind Prince’s Epic Guitar Solos
While Prince was a multifaceted musical force - with singing, songwriting and piano playing among his many talents - arguably his greatest instrument was the guitar. Now, the secret to his incendiary solos has been revealed.
During a recent edition of 60 Minutes, reporter Jon Wertheim was given a tour of the Purple One’s Paisley Park studios. While there, he chatted with two of Prince’s bandmates: keyboardist and musical director, Morris Hayes, and backing singer Shelby J.
When asked about Prince’s approach to solos, Hayes recalled some advice the deceased music icon gave him.
“He said, ‘Morris, if you wanna do a great solo. Write it out, think it out so that, when you go to play it, you can play it again,” Hayes explained.
Another component of Prince’s emphatic solos? His expression.
“He would make that ugly face,” Shelby J recalled, “you know, the face.”
“Gotta make the ugly face,” Hayes agreed. “You had to get some contortion face or the note won't even get out right unless you make a ugly face.”
According to Shelby J, Prince even mimed the sounds coming out of his guitar. “I would watch him play guitar and sound out what he's doing with his mouth,” the singer revealed. “And I could see that connection.”
Prince’s guitar playing will once again be heard on Welcome 2 America, the posthumous album due for release in July. The legendary artist had originally prepped the LP for release in 2010, but chose to shelve it for reasons which still aren’t clear.
“I remember asking him about it,” Hayes recalled, admitting he pressed Prince about the decision. “And he says, ‘Well, we'll just have to revisit that down the line.’ 'Cause he was just onto the next project.”