Nils Lofgren Reveals Surprising Details About E Street Band’s Spontaneous Prince Tribute

Nils Lofgren recently chatted with Dig and shared how E Street Band’s Prince tribute came into play after one faithful phone call from Bruce Springsteen and why no one in the band knew who would play the iconic guitar solo of ‘Purple Rain’ on stage.

After news of Prince’s passing broke out seven years ago, it left the rock scene shocked and devastated. Lofgren even recalled the initial moment he learned about the rock icon’s death, discussing how he couldn’t believe it since Prince seemed to be quite healthy and doing alright.

E Street Band was on their national River Tour at the time, and it didn’t take long for Bruce to come up with plans to pay homage to Prince. He called Nils two days after the rock icon’s passing, letting him know that they would try and have a go at performing ‘Purple Rain’ to celebrate Prince’s life. However, since this plan came out suddenly, none of the band members had time to rehearse.

Still, Lofgren spread the word among his bandmates and started learning the guitar riff by watching Prince mastering it on his past gigs through YouTube. However, the battling question of who would perform the solo on stage remained unanswered until the very moment the band started performing it.

The rocker’s words on how the Prince tribute was spontaneous and why he didn’t know who would play the solo:

“Bruce called me the night before [the show]. [He said] ‘Hey, Nils. Why don’t you let the guys know, tomorrow, we’re probably going to take a shot at ‘Purple Rain.’ And I called a couple guys in the band and said, ‘Hey, just spread the word.’

Bruce didn’t say anything about it. And I wasn’t going to ask him – we were on the road; we were all shook up. Steve [Van Zandt], Bruce, or I could have played the solo. So, in case he called on me, I started going to YouTube and watching Prince play.”

Well, Nils made the right decision by learning the solo since Springsteen decided to let him play it. The guitarist recalled how they started playing Prince’s iconic track, and when it came to pouring the chords into play, Bruce simply nodded at Lofgren to go ahead, and so, he started jamming the rock icon’s riffs and doing his best to play them right.

The guitarist on how Springsteen chose him to play the guitar solo:

“We played the song. When the solo came, nobody talked about it. Bruce pointed at me, and I started jamming. That preparation paid off because I had some familiarity with where I might go… We caught a good version of it.”

So, E Street Band’s tribute to Prince was totally unrehearsed, and the band members didn’t know who would master the rocker’s riffs on stage; luckily, the band was harmonious enough to master the track and do it justice.