Just prior to his 2016 death, music legend Prince announced during a New York show his plans to pen memoir, titled “The Beautiful Ones.”
Fast forward to 2019 and the musician’s first and only book is set to hit shelves Tuesday.
“This is my first one,” Prince said at the time. “My brother Dan is helping me with it. He’s a good critic and that’s what I need. He’s not a ‘yes’ man at all and he’s really helping me get through this,” Prince told a crowd that included “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah and Harry Belafonte. The book, which Prince had worked on for only three months before his passing, was originally set for a 2017 release.
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“We’re starting from the beginning from my first memory and hopefully we can go all the way up to the Super Bowl,” he added. “You all still read books, right?”
Prince told his collaborator and editor, Dan Piepenbring, that “The Beautiful Ones” would include “bombshells.” But Piepenbring noted in an interview with USA TODAY that Prince died before he really had the chance to spill any pearl-clutching tea.
“Unfortunately, because he died so soon into it, there’s nothing really salacious or scandalous,” Piepenbring says. “I think the bombshells end up being kind of just the opposite.”
Prince died from a drug overdose at age 57 on April 21, 2016. Piepenbring spent the next three years sorting through a the singer’s notes, photographs and drawings to put together the memoir.
“His handwriting is beautiful. I mean, he has this very fluid script. But then it’s also so unruly. It seems to be coming out of him so quickly that it verges on illegible a lot of the time.” Piepenbring said. He also reveled that Prince used symbols in his writing, such as an eye for I, and the letter U for you. The symbology is not unlike the writing on album sleeves earlier in his career.
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“It’s almost like a magic eye puzzle,” Piepenbring added. “You have to stare at it, and then suddenly the words come together, and you can read this amazing story of his childhood.”
According to The Guardian, Prince talks about a variety of experiences through his life, including his first kiss; sneaking in to watch R-rated movies at a drive-in; his frustration at his mother who he said wasted money on partying; and had choice words for record industry execs and the brand of pop music they market: “We need to tell them that they keep trying to ram Katy Perry and Ed Sheeran down our throats and we don’t like it no matter how many times they play it.”
With an introduction written by Piepenbring, the book takes readers through the day to day of the iconic artist, told as sort of coming-of-age story. The memoir includes: drafted manuscript pages scratched on a legal pad, photos, handwritten lyrics, doodles, cartoons and other selections from items found at Paisley Park after Prince’s death,
“I kind of like that the book kind of has this lack of resolution, and that really it’s kind of made up of fragments,” Piepenbring says. “I think even had he lived, the mystery would still be intact, because he really was writing the book in part to understand himself better.”
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The intimate materials are sorted into sections in the memoir that highlight different stages of Prince’s life, including his childhood in Minneapolis
“There is definitely a way he could be in conversation, digressive or discursive,” Piepenbring explains. “He’d always bounce around from subject to subject, and then his mind was always working so feverishly.”
The Beautiful Ones (Spiegel & Grau) is due on shelves Tuesday.