ABOUT THE BOOK
From Prince himself comes the brilliant coming-of-age-and-into-superstardom story of one of the greatest artists of all time—featuring never-before-seen photos, original scrapbooks and lyric sheets, and the exquisite memoir he began writing before his tragic death.
Prince was a musical genius, one of the most talented, beloved, accomplished, popular, and acclaimed musicians in history. He was also a startlingly original visionary with an imagination deep enough to whip up whole worlds, from the sexy, gritty funk paradise of “Uptown” to the mythical landscape of Purple Rain to the psychedelia of “Paisley Park.” But his most ambitious creative act was turning Prince Rogers Nelson, born in Minnesota, into Prince, the greatest pop star of his era.
The Beautiful Ones is the story of how Prince became Prince—a first-person account of a kid absorbing the world around him and then creating a persona, an artistic vision, and a life, before the hits and fame that would come to define him. The book is told in four parts. The first is composed of the memoir he was writing before his tragic death, pages that brings us into Prince’s childhood world through his own lyrical prose. The second part takes us into Prince’s early years as a musician, before his first album released, through a scrapbook of Prince’s writing and photos. The third section shows us Prince’s evolution through candid images that take us up to the cusp of his greatest achievement, which we see in the book’s fourth section: his original handwritten treatment for Purple Rain—the final stage in Prince’s self-creation, as he retells the autobiography we’ve seen in the first three parts as a heroic journey.
The book is framed by editor Dan Piepenbring’s riveting and moving introduction about his short but profound collaboration with Prince in his final months—a time when Prince was thinking deeply about how to reveal more of himself and his ideas to the world, while retaining the mystery and mystique he’d so carefully cultivated—and annotations that provide context to each of the book’s images.
This work is not just a tribute to Prince, but an original and energizing literary work, full of Prince’s ideas and vision, his voice and image, his undying gift to the world.
foyles – signed edition £25.00
It’s obviously not as in depth as was originally planned by Prince and the author, following the sad death of Prince not long after the project was started, but what we do get is a wonderful insight into the man behind the music. His childhood memories, handwritten lyrics, stunning photos alongside recollections of his evolution as a musical artist. A beautiful book about a beautiful soul.
And with the author, Dan Piepenbring, adding his own thoughts and memories of the time he did share with Prince in the months before his death, we got to hear about how Prince was hoping to begin a new chapter of his life and allowing more people to learn more about him as a person through his own words. There are also little soundbites featured from interviews that he made throughout his career which add another layer of understanding to how he saw himself and how others may have perceived him. He was never afraid of being outspoken or different and his approach to creating new personas and sounds just became second nature to him as he looked to evolve over the years both musically and personally.
It is upsetting that the whole concept of this book wasn’t able to be seen through to the conclusion but I think what we do get is a fitting tribute to an astonishing musician and person and I found it to be a moving and absorbing read.