Just two weeks before the 2008 Coachella festival, the organizers announced that a very big name had joined the lineup: Prince. The previous summer they’d reunited Rage Against the Machine, but this time around their biggest stars were Jack Johnson, Roger Waters and Portishead. With a ton of new festivals popping up all over the country, Coachella organizers knew they had to find something extra special to stand out. “In this year of a lot of festivals, we think we’ve dug pretty deep,” Coachella booker Paul Tollett told Billboard. “We’re in our ninth year, and this is a really great addition to the whole story. It’s exciting to add another artist into the mix that hasn’t played festivals.”
Facing a large, young audience not intimately familiar with his catalog, Prince packed his stunning set with huge hits like “Little Red Corvette,” “Cream,” “1999” and “Purple Rain.” He also played a lot of covers, such as the Beatles’ “Come Together,” Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel,” Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice” and the B-52’s “Rock Lobster.” The most jaw-dropping moment of the night came near the end of the main set when he broke out Radiohead’s “Creep.” He had never played the song in concert before (or any other Radiohead songs for that matter), but across eight glorious minutes, he completely made it his own.
It popped up on YouTube the next morning – with shots from many different angles – but the Prince camp is extremely vigilant with the Internet and had them all taken down. Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke found this hysterical. “Really? He’s blocked it?” York asked an interviewer. “Surely we should block it. Hang on a moment. Well, tell him to unblock it. It’s our song.” It was hard to argue with that, and it remains on YouTube even though most Prince material has been yanked for quite some time.
Prince’s 2007 performance at the Super Bowl included “Purple Rain” and is one of the greatest live moments of his career. Watch here.