Who is the better guitarist? Jimi Hendrix or Prince? They were both funk masters….played the blues and rock and roll.. Music visionaries in their live performances and in the studio. Frequently imitated but never duplicated. It’s a HARD call. I know we’re all HUGE Prince fans here but if I had to pick, I would have to say Jimi on this. Every guitar lick and solo Prince performed that I’ve heard, (And I’ve heard a lot, live and recorded) Jimi Hendrix had one to match or better. I like Prince better as an artist, no doubt about it but I’m not biased about my decision. Just because I chose Hendrix doesn’t mean that he’s the better musician. Jimi Hendrix singlehandedly redefined guitar playing as we know it today. Prince was his disciple even though he denied it in interviews. If you’re comparing a 27 year old Prince to Jimi Hendrix (Hendrix passed at 27) it is Jimi by leaps and bounds. Not even close! Prince played well but his guitar work tended to rely on the same runs. He used a lot of smoke and mirror effects like flanging and “overdrive/sustains”. You can argue that Prince was a better all-around musicican and song writer but is that really fair? Prince had almost a 25 year learning curve on Hendrix. In the end, everything is subjective. Did Prince influence music more than Hendrix? Again it’s unfair! Save the tragic personification of waste and depravity of Hendrix. Prince did perhaps have a larger influence on pop culture of the 80s as compared to Hendrix in the 60’s. His untimely death exacerbated myths as it does in almost all legends including Prince. As far as historical significance it’s too early to gauge; but I’d say Hendrix’s legacy will eventually be seen as being broader while Prince’s deeper.
Hendrix’s music was more linear, and I think many guitarists in particular find it easier to understand and assimilate into their own musical concept. Hendrix also had an amazing ability to “go with the flow” and turn accidents into astonishing moments. Prince had a much more ambitious sense of harmony and in the future I think his music will be more influential to people who prefer a more carefully craft music and not so much the gimmicky playing of Hendrix. Many in the music community felt that the only thing they had in common was the word PURPLE, as in Purple Rain makes for a Purple Haze.
What the “Purple Controversy” really intends to prove is that “Prince’s effect on this generation would be as Hendrix affected past generations”. The statement is not meant as a musical comparison necessarily but as an effect on our society its two different generations. Prince had MTV that made him their “poster child” while Jimi had to rely solely on touring. Prince had “Purple Rain” to detail his life.
Jimi Hendrix A Young Prince Jimi With His Dad..
“Rain was written by Albert Magnoli, the director, and William Blinn, and it contained certain autobiographical elements, focuses on the public and private torments of the Kid (Prince), a Minneapolis rocker on the rise. He’s a driving young singer obsessed with getting to the top and away from his black father (Clarence Brown 3d), an alcoholic, wife-beating former musician, and his mother, played by the Greek actress Olga Karlatos, another show-biz dropout, who drinks along with dad, whom she can’t quite bring herself to leave. The film was shot and edited in the jazzily manic, staccato style favored by every rock documentary since Jimi Hendrix’s epic performance at ”Woodstock”. At the center of “Purple Rain” there is the small, slight, somewhat nervous figure of Prince himself. When performing onstage, as he is in much of the film, whether photographed frontally, in profile or silhouetted against a manmade aurora borealis, he was a riveting spectacle. Off the stage, his screen presence is a pale reflection of the dynamic recording personality.
Prince Had Paisley Park … Jimi Hendrix had Electric Ladyland