There’s a famous tale that’s floated around for years and has enjoyed a resurgence since last Thursday. The story goes that sometime during the 1980s, Eric Clapton was asked how it felt to be the best guitar player in the world, and responded “I don’t know; ask Prince.” The story is almost certainly untrue (what the hell sort of interviewer would ask someone that question in the first place?), but the vaguely awestruck reverence with which it circulates, like some divine validation of Prince’s greatness, is irritating.
Eric Clapton remarking in the 1980s that Prince was a better guitar player than him proves nothing more than that in the 1980s Eric Clapton was listening to Prince records. The story’s “punchline” relies on the implied unexpectedness that a) Prince was in fact a great guitarist; or b) that Eric Clapton was a Prince fan. In other words, it relies on some pretty pernicious assumptions about what sorts of people play guitar, and what sorts of music those sorts of people listen to.