Skip to main content

Watch Eric Clapton Pay Tribute to Prince with Stirring “Purple Rain” Cover

Eric Clapton kicked off a three-night stand at the Royal Albert Hall on Monday, May 13, and the guitarist opened and closed his show with some surprise song choices. 

He opened his set with “Que Sera Sera,” made famous by Doris Day, whose death at age 97 had been announced earlier that day, and closed the night with a stirring run-through of “Purple Rain,” his first time ever covering a Prince song.

You can check out fan-filmed footage of “Purple Rain” above.

A few days after Prince’s death in April 2016, Clapton paid tribute to the artist on Facebook, writing:

“I’m so sad about the death of Prince, he was a true genius, and a huge inspiration for me, in a very real way. In the Eighties, I was out on the road in a massive downward spiral with drink and drugs, I saw Purple Rain in a cinema in Canada, I had no idea who he was, it was like a bolt of lightning! In the middle of my depression, and the dreadful state of the music culture at that time it gave me hope, he was like a light in the darkness I went back to my hotel, and surrounded by empty beer cans, wrote 'Holy Mother.' I can’t believe he’s gone.”

Recently, Clapton announced the fifth installment of his Crossroads Guitar Festival. Set to take place at the American Airlines Center in Dallas from September 20-21, the festival will gather together a jaw-dropping list of blues-guitar greats, including Billy Gibbons, Jeff Beck, Joe Walsh, Bonnie Raitt, Derek Trucks, Jimmie Vaughan, Susan Tedeschi and Gary Clark Jr., for two nights of music. All proceeds from the event will go towards The Crossroads Centre in Antigua, a substance-abuse rehabilitation facility founded by Clapton.

For more info on the festival, head on over to

Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.