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The Beautiful Ones

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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 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.


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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 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.

30 review for The Beautiful Ones

  1. 5 out of 5

    Casey Rain

    Prince's unfinished memoir is captured here, in The Beautiful Ones, out now on Penguin Random House. It’s a stunning package, but a difficult proposition. It’s not his memoir. It’s partly that. It’s not a photo book, but it’s partly that. And it’s not a no-hold-barred insight into the man himself, although again — it’s partly that. What we have here is a package created with struggles, but with love. What he wrote of his memoir, combined with unseen photos, lyric sheets, notes, and the original Prince's unfinished memoir is captured here, in The Beautiful Ones, out now on Penguin Random House. It’s a stunning package, but a difficult proposition. It’s not his memoir. It’s partly that. It’s not a photo book, but it’s partly that. And it’s not a no-hold-barred insight into the man himself, although again — it’s partly that. What we have here is a package created with struggles, but with love. What he wrote of his memoir, combined with unseen photos, lyric sheets, notes, and the original handwritten treatment for the movie Purple Rain. Prince’s memoir, and the story of how it came about, told by editor Dan Piepenbring, are heartfelt, real words that should be read with care and understanding, and thus it almost doesn’t matter that this book is unconventional. Prince was unconventional. Prince defied normal concepts of time and music. And in this book, we get just enough of a peek behind the purple curtain to leave his mystery intact. Perhaps, in a way, that’s what he would have wanted from this book. Prince’s insights into power, ownership, blackness, music industry conglomerates, and his own troubled childhood are enough for us to understand some of the key tenets of who he really was. And as for the rest? Well — it already exists, in the seemingly endless, iconic, and diverse catalog of music that he released in his 57 years on this planet. And with all the unreleased music in his legendary vault, we’ll still be hearing his story play out for many years to come.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jamie (TheRebelliousReader)

    ”Those considered “different” R the ones most interesting 2 us.” 5 stars. Such a bittersweet read. I’ve been anticipating this book since it’s announcement years ago when Prince was still alive. Reading it now, with him no longer here and this being unfinished made it so somber. I can’t even imagine what all he would’ve done with this book but for what we got it was still a really beautiful (no pun intended) read. I loved that there were a lot of notes and letters in his handwriting and all of ”Those considered “different” R the ones most interesting 2 us.” 5 stars. Such a bittersweet read. I’ve been anticipating this book since it’s announcement years ago when Prince was still alive. Reading it now, with him no longer here and this being unfinished made it so somber. I can’t even imagine what all he would’ve done with this book but for what we got it was still a really beautiful (no pun intended) read. I loved that there were a lot of notes and letters in his handwriting and all of the personal family photos were a great addition. I already look forward to reading it again and picking up a little things I might’ve missed the first time around. If you are a fan of Prince, of course I recommend this book 1000%, just don’t listen to his first album For You while doing so like I did because you will shed tears. Trust me I know. There will never be another Prince so seeing just a little bit of a more personal side to him and hear his story in his own words was a gift. This was well worth the wait.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jay Gabler

    It's impossible to know what Prince would have made of the book just published under his byline, and it's probably best not to speculate...but you have to imagine he'd be happy to feel the weight of it. Both literally and figuratively, it's a heavy book, its 280 pages printed on substantial stock and bound between purple covers with a gold dust jacket. The Beautiful Ones is one of the signal publishing events of 2019, and it's also one of the most poignant. In the last months, indeed the very It's impossible to know what Prince would have made of the book just published under his byline, and it's probably best not to speculate...but you have to imagine he'd be happy to feel the weight of it. Both literally and figuratively, it's a heavy book, its 280 pages printed on substantial stock and bound between purple covers with a gold dust jacket. The Beautiful Ones is one of the signal publishing events of 2019, and it's also one of the most poignant. In the last months, indeed the very last days, of his too-short life Prince was actively working on a book project that was, even by the iconic musician's own high standards, ambitious. "Can we write a book that solves racism?" he asked his collaborator Dan Piepenbring. Of course Prince didn't actually think he was about to solve racism with a single book — he didn't even wait for Piepenbring to venture an answer before peppering him with another question — but he was certainly thinking about his memoir as an opportunity to advance high-level conversations around race, music, and creativity. For all its author's vast vision, the book is most crucial in the way it brings Prince down to earth. I reviewed The Beautiful Ones for The Current.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    It's hard to know what to say. I was left feeling very sad and empty after quickly devouring this book. The opening chapter by Dan Piepenbring about how this book began to come together through his collaborations with Prince in early 2016 is fascinating and gripping. The suspense builds aptly for Part 2, the unreleased chapters written by Prince himself. When I read first few lines of those chapters, I burst into tears so quickly. I don't want to spoil it, but the way he chose to open his memoir It's hard to know what to say. I was left feeling very sad and empty after quickly devouring this book. The opening chapter by Dan Piepenbring about how this book began to come together through his collaborations with Prince in early 2016 is fascinating and gripping. The suspense builds aptly for Part 2, the unreleased chapters written by Prince himself. When I read first few lines of those chapters, I burst into tears so quickly. I don't want to spoil it, but the way he chose to open his memoir was so beautiful, so simple, so disarming. Prince comes through so clearly in these few pages he managed to get finished, all of his childlike joy, his humour, his love of sex, of women and of God, all of his funk - all the things we loved. They are well worth reading. He recounts his childhood, his complicated relationship with his parents, his first few girlfriends, his burgeoning joy of music. Pointedly, he muses on the nature of love and what it means for two people to come together as one - then suddenly it ends, at a point in the story when he's barely out of puberty. At this point, I realised that I had read the whole book up to this point with my hand covering my mouth, a kind of shock reaction of some kind. The grief had come back. From this point on, we're left feeling voyeuristic till the end of this sad little collection. There's a cute photo album from 1978, a couple of lyric sheets, an original plot summary for the Purple Rain movie. It's interesting stuff, but it's what it is: padding. The so-called 'The Beautiful Ones' just doesn't pass muster as a cohesive whole. I feel like they should have ended this book after the first two sections or just not published it at all. You can only imagine how this could've turned out if he had finished it. Who can say?

  5. 4 out of 5

    LeeTravelGoddess

    Soooooooooooooooooooooooooo, this book has THEEEE longest introduction EVER, in the whole world... how selfish Dan, this story isn’t about you! I got the audiobook cause I thought it was going down but NOPE. Esperanza Spalding read the book and while I THOROUGHLY enjoy her music, she can’t read a damn thing to me. Sorry E . This book is priced together as if held together by gorilla glue, WHEW LORD! Three people read the 3 hour audiobook. THREE PEOPLE, THREE HOURS, SAME MAN, ONE BOOK... Soooooooooooooooooooooooooo, this book has THEEEE longest introduction EVER, in the whole world... how selfish Dan, this story isn’t about you! I got the audiobook cause I thought it was going down but NOPE. Esperanza Spalding read the book and while I THOROUGHLY enjoy her music, she can’t read a damn thing to me. Sorry E 😬. This book is priced together as if held together by gorilla glue, WHEW LORD! Three people read the 3 hour audiobook. THREE PEOPLE, THREE HOURS, SAME MAN, ONE BOOK... chiiiiiiiiiilllllleee BYE! And Dan takes up 1:46:00 of it, HA! Prince would not have wanted this fractured work to be put out in his name. If you want a complete, whole, finished, wonderfully thought through memoir... go read Morris Day’s “On Time” or even Mayte’s “The Most Beautiful” she loved Prince, she put her heart and soul into that book. Overall, MEH... it’s just a struggle for me, a fan of Prince, to believe that this or even a fraction of this to be a reflection of Prince— maybe I don’t understand it 🤷🏽‍♀️. Maybe cut out Dan’s recount... it’s unnecessary because Prince is no longer here to combat or edit?? Or maybe he should have put it at the end of the book & don’t call it an introduction cause two hours, my guy, is NOT an intro but an endless epitaph... but I’m no writer— also, there are TONS of Prince celebrity fans, have them say something about him between each chapter, COMPLETE THE BOOK BEFORE YOU DROP IT TO GET PAID. The back and forth of voices REALLY sucked; I know Prince was a Gemini but DAMN! Y’all really DID TEW MUCH 😡. I’m returning it. YIKES!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    Obviously, I was going to give this book five stars from the second Prince announced it. But these five stars are deserved. Prince’s autobiographical section is quite slight. But in so few pages, he brings his charm, wit and astuteness. His words provide insight about his formative years. And Dan Piepenbring's introduction is a delight. We will never know what could have been. But I am thankful for the small amount that was shared.

  7. 5 out of 5

    David Gibbons

    You can't knock stars off it for being incomplete. What I, for one, would give for it to possibly have been completed. It means he would still be here for us.

  8. 5 out of 5

    La Vida Rose

    I NEED MORE! This book contains 26-pages that Prince wrote intended for his memoir. It's just not enough. The rest of the book features handwritten song lyrics from some of his early songs in the 70s and 80s and quotes from magazine interviews he did and lots of photos; many of them never-before-seen from the 70s and early 80s. How badly I wish he was able to finish this as it started off so beautifully. It was a tribute to his parents. I absolutely loved the anecdotal stories he told of his I NEED MORE! This book contains 26-pages that Prince wrote intended for his memoir. It's just not enough. The rest of the book features handwritten song lyrics from some of his early songs in the 70s and 80s and quotes from magazine interviews he did and lots of photos; many of them never-before-seen from the 70s and early 80s. How badly I wish he was able to finish this as it started off so beautifully. It was a tribute to his parents. I absolutely loved the anecdotal stories he told of his youth. He was everything you'd expect someone like Prince to be as a boy and young man: the smartest person in the room. He seemingly remained so for the duration of his life. Had he lived to complete it, this book would have been quite a labor of love for him. I truly believe that. Towards the end of his life, he began to be very introspective and this was very apparent during his last tour, Piano & A Microphone. He reflected a lot on his life and the people that came in and out of it over the years. But mostly, I think the purpose of this memoir was to set the record straight about who he was and everything that influenced this, beginning with his parents. I think this is especially true of his father. Both of his parents played a profoundly important role in his life and in a positive way. I think people might be surprised by that because what many fans think is that his family life was similar to the one depicted in the movie "Purple Rain". Anyway, as a lifelong fan of Prince (starting at age 7), I appreciate even getting a little bit of his story from his own words. This was an emotional read for me because it signaled a sort of final goodbye. It's been over 3 years now since his death and I'm honestly still not over it. I don't think I'll ever be, but in a way, I feel like this memoir sort of helped with a bit of closure, although it wasn't finished. No matter what though, the music and spirit of Prince will be around forever. I'm confident about that. He was indeed an enigma and I'm so grateful I got to live in his lifetime and got to seem him perform live a few times. I can still remember thinking during the last time I saw him perform in 2015 that I couldn't believe we were in the same room, breathing the same air, at the same time haha I'm such a Prince stan and I'll forever remain one. I experienced the funk and it will live within me until I take my last breath. Love you, P! Read this book!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nandi Crawford

    I loved Prince from the get go, but facts being facts, it's an interesting yet unfinished work.I'm not discounting the book, but it speaks of his life from birth to him writing the first draft of Purple Rain. Mostly pictures, some writing and his draft which was so good, it make you wish he either started sooner or live long enough to finish. Still, many thanks to those who brought it to this. Thank you.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"

    2.5 stars This is a mish-mash of material that could have been an excellent book if Prince had lived to complete it. The first 57 percent of the book is an introduction by Dan Piepenbring, the writer Prince chose to collaborate with him on the autobiography. Dan tells of his very brief association with Prince lasting only a few months. He explains how he got the job, the time he spent getting to know Prince as they began work on the book, and what happened after Prince died. The intro is followed 2.5 stars This is a mish-mash of material that could have been an excellent book if Prince had lived to complete it. The first 57 percent of the book is an introduction by Dan Piepenbring, the writer Prince chose to collaborate with him on the autobiography. Dan tells of his very brief association with Prince lasting only a few months. He explains how he got the job, the time he spent getting to know Prince as they began work on the book, and what happened after Prince died. The intro is followed by a very brief section in Prince's words that he wrote in longhand about his early life. It's interesting and lyrical, and gives you a glimpse of what the book might have been. The rest of the book is just a bunch of long quotes from magazine and television interviews Prince had done over the years, and a story treatment he wrote for a film. It's worth a look if you loved Prince. Just start with low expectations. I think Prince would have been least best pleased with this publication. It does have a lot of fun photos from his early life.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Book Reviews By Tara

    This book is not a memoir written by Prince! This is a biography written by Dan Piepenbring. I am highly disappointed with this book. The information within these pages was not approved, or provided by Prince for the purpose of producing this particular book. A memoir is a book written by an individual who has chosen to share the details of his or her life. Prince did not write these details to be published in this way. The pictures and paraphernalia in the book was acquired after his death. So This book is not a memoir written by Prince! This is a biography written by Dan Piepenbring. I am highly disappointed with this book. The information within these pages was not approved, or provided by Prince for the purpose of producing this particular book. A memoir is a book written by an individual who has chosen to share the details of his or her life. Prince did not write these details to be published in this way. The pictures and paraphernalia in the book was acquired after his death. So without his permission how could this be his memoir? Inquiring minds want to know🧐! There is so much in this book that I am bothered by. Beginning with the cover picture. As a true Prince fan I am 100% sure Prince would not have chosen that picture for his book cover. Next, there are way too many blank pages. Also, the photos and photo details are in two separate places. A description each photo can be found in the back of the book, instead of being placed on the same page as the picture🤦🏽‍♀️. Furthermore, the first 47 pages of the book is written by someone other than Prince. And the list goes on & on. When I first heard Prince’s memoir would be released I was beyond happy. But then, within the first 80 pages I knew this was not what Prince had intended for his book. This is not Prince’s vision. Clearly Prince did not leave behind enough content to adequately write this book. Therefore, the publisher did whatever they could to stretch this book out. As a Prince fan I am very unhappy with what I have read. My displeasure is mainly because Prince is named author of the book. But that is not true. I believe the publisher should call this book what it is...a biography! Then maybe I will be able to appreciate it’s content.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jak Krumholtz

    "Rhythm came from Africa. We need to stop frontin' about that. Rhythm and heartbeats." Despite a few close calls I never got to see Prince. My last chance I skipped because it was five hours away and my daughter was less than a week old. It was more tempting when it was rescheduled a week later but I still didn't go, relatively unperturbed because he'd begun doing more frequent tours. It ended up being his last show when he passed a week later. A book was conceived during that same time period and "Rhythm came from Africa. We need to stop frontin' about that. Rhythm and heartbeats." Despite a few close calls I never got to see Prince. My last chance I skipped because it was five hours away and my daughter was less than a week old. It was more tempting when it was rescheduled a week later but I still didn't go, relatively unperturbed because he'd begun doing more frequent tours. It ended up being his last show when he passed a week later. A book was conceived during that same time period and it would have been exciting to see what he would have created. This book does a good job of picking up the pieces left and creating something beautiful and human. I'm thankful to share with my daughter a bootleg of that last show in Atlanta.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    First off, Prince is one of my all-time favorite artists! But I'm a little disappointed by this book. Because Prince died in the early stages of writing the book we only get to read roughly 28 pages that he actually wrote. The majority of the book is made up of personal photos and handwritten song lyrics that were found in Prince's home after he died. Throughout the book, there are a series of excerpts from magazine and newspaper articles with quotes from Prince. Although I enjoyed the personal First off, Prince is one of my all-time favorite artists! But I'm a little disappointed by this book. Because Prince died in the early stages of writing the book we only get to read roughly 28 pages that he actually wrote. The majority of the book is made up of personal photos and handwritten song lyrics that were found in Prince's home after he died. Throughout the book, there are a series of excerpts from magazine and newspaper articles with quotes from Prince. Although I enjoyed the personal photos, I had hoped this book would delve a little deeper into him personally. Even if Prince were alive to write the entirety of the book I'm not sure he would have even dug too deep into his personal life as he always maintained an air of mystery. Overall, I'm left feeling a bit unsatisfied.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Homa

    A beautiful book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ka’leneReads

    So unfortunate for us Prince did not get to C this thru....Memories R Good

  16. 4 out of 5

    R.

    Glorified coffeetable book for die hard fans masochistically driven to destroy the mystique. The much too long intro written by the co-author is, in my opinion, literate but tone deaf fanzine blogslop: visiting Prince for dinner at Paisley Park takes on the sinister shades of Jonathan Harker trapped and mesmerized at Dracula's castle.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Lewis

    This book by definition couldn't be 5 stars, because it was necessarily, heartbreakingly incomplete. But Dan Piepenbring could have done more justice to the material he did have. Piepenbring's propensity to toss in a 50 cent word where a simpler word would do is distracting. For example, he uses the word "plangent" to describe the quiet and reflective song "Sometimes it Snows in April". I have a relatively large vocabulary, and I was a musician in my youth, but I had never encountered this word. This book by definition couldn't be 5 stars, because it was necessarily, heartbreakingly incomplete. But Dan Piepenbring could have done more justice to the material he did have. Piepenbring's propensity to toss in a 50 cent word where a simpler word would do is distracting. For example, he uses the word "plangent" to describe the quiet and reflective song "Sometimes it Snows in April". I have a relatively large vocabulary, and I was a musician in my youth, but I had never encountered this word. It's jarring to have to stop reading in order to look something up. And in this case when I did so, the definition ("(of a sound) loud, reverberating, and often melancholy") didn't even fit the song. This unnecessary use of Big Words (TM) may be due to Piepenbring's past as a literary journal editor. This style doesn't work for a popular book. Unsurprisingly, the best parts of the book are the sections that Prince wrote himself. He comes off as funny, warm, and insightful, if sometimes hard to grasp. I am a Prince fam of decades, and I've been exposed to a bunch of unauthorized material, yet I still learned some new things about him. I was surprised at how open he was about the difficulties he had growing up, especially romantically and with his appearance (not only his short stature but his teenage acne). And I got a fuller sense of the way he thought; his trains of thought are more like jazz than funk. He says funk is about rules, but his thinking is not constrained by rules; it's playful, experimental, and loosely associated, making connections that others can't aways anticipate or even follow. Some of the additional materials in the last section of the book (such as photos, song lyrics, a storyboard for a video, and an early script of Purple Rain) were interesting to see, but having to flip to the end notes for any context was annoying. I'm unsure why Piepenbring organized it like this. I don't mean to dump on him. I did appreciate that he is a bona fide Prince fam. It would have been a shame to give this job to a writer who was only passingly familiar with Prince. It was evident throughout that he was respectful and appreciative. After closing this book, I was left with an aching and hollow feeling that is all too familiar to Prince fams. This work does add to our knowedge of Prince, but even more, it serves as yet another reminder of how much we lost when he died. It tantalizes us without really fulfilling its promise.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This is not a memoir. It should have been a feature story in Rolling Stone or any number of literary journals. The sketches that are actually written by Prince are fleeting, still mostly unformed, but engaging and worth reading because of the singularity of the talent. Dan Piepenbring's introduction (half the book, really) is illuminating, but again, probably only worthy of a podcast, article or interview and not a book sold as "by Prince." Prince talks about being an alpha creatively, knowing This is not a memoir. It should have been a feature story in Rolling Stone or any number of literary journals. The sketches that are actually written by Prince are fleeting, still mostly unformed, but engaging and worth reading because of the singularity of the talent. Dan Piepenbring's introduction (half the book, really) is illuminating, but again, probably only worthy of a podcast, article or interview and not a book sold as "by Prince." Prince talks about being an alpha creatively, knowing what he wanted, and I'm guessing this book would make the Purple One puke. Fortunately, there's no way to please or displease the dead.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    “If I want this book to be about one overarching thing, it’s freedom. And the freedom to create autonomously. Without anyone telling you what to do or how or why. Our consciousness is programmed. We see things a certain way from a young age—we’re programmed to keep doing them that way. Then you have to spend adulthood learning how to overcome it, to read out the programs. Try to create. I want to tell people to create. Just start by creating your day. Then create your life.” Prince has always “If I want this book to be about one overarching thing, it’s freedom. And the freedom to create autonomously. Without anyone telling you what to do or how or why. Our consciousness is programmed. We see things a certain way from a young age—we’re programmed to keep doing them that way. Then you have to spend adulthood learning how to overcome it, to read out the programs. Try to create. I want to tell people to create. Just start by creating your day. Then create your life.” Prince has always been such an important musician to me. I remember first hearing him through my mom and I absolutely loved how he and his music sounded. I never went beyond his music, though. I never tried to learn more about him and his life. I just enjoyed his music. When he died I was devastated, as much of the world was. We lost a great talent and person too soon. When I heard talk about this memoir, I got excited. I thought it was my chance to learn about this person who I so dearly loved. The Beautiful Ones captured Prince in such a way that I could imagine him in my mind saying these things and doing these things. He’s such a mysterious person and Dan Piepenbring did the impossible—he helped bring Prince’s vision of a memoir to life. I would like to think that Prince would be proud of this work. I can’t help but think about what the memoir would be like if Prince was there for the whole process, and I really wish he was. I loved all the notes and photographs that were included in this memoir as well because it made it all feel super personal and it gave us readers a peek into Prince’s world. An emotional read but it makes me proud of what Prince has accomplished in his life and the impact he had on his fans. I will say one thing though – I know I kept saying “memoir” throughout my review, but I felt as if it was more of a biography than memoir. The introduction by Dan felt kind of long and, as I said, I’m unsure on how Prince would really feel about this book. I still give it 5 stars though because I love Prince and I loved this glimpse into his life.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ana Santos

    WHY DID PRINCE NAME HIS MEMOIR THE BEAUTIFUL ONES? Prince wrote thousands of songs so why did he choose ‘The Beautiful Ones’ to be the title of his memoir? Was it his favourite song? What and who is the song about? Before you can review a book, you need to know the background. The introduction by Dan Piepenbring offers insight into how Prince wanted his first book to be. He told Dan exactly what he wanted and he delivered. This is not your typical memoir but when the subject is someone like WHY DID PRINCE NAME HIS MEMOIR THE BEAUTIFUL ONES? Prince wrote thousands of songs so why did he choose ‘The Beautiful Ones’ to be the title of his memoir? Was it his favourite song? What and who is the song about? Before you can review a book, you need to know the background. The introduction by Dan Piepenbring offers insight into how Prince wanted his first book to be. He told Dan exactly what he wanted and he delivered. This is not your typical memoir but when the subject is someone like Prince, that’s to be expected. There are only 7 chapters in Prince’s own handwriting. Countless people say his memoir is incomplete but perhaps it was complete in Prince’s mind. Like all creation, it must start at the beginning. Prince reveals his first memory as seeing his mother’s eyes. He then details living with his dysfunctional parents and his own experiences finding puppy love with his school girlfriends. The overall theme is how his parent’s disparate personalities impacted on Prince’s life. Those closest to us will influence our spiritual lives. Prince’s father read the bible daily. Prince’s mother was a fun-loving woman who didn’t like order. The foundation of a marriage determines whether it will last until death. Prince wrote that parents should stay together because marriage is God’s intended design. Prince’s own development from puberty into a young adult was in contrast to his father’s teaching. His first real girlfriend was exactly what his father warned him against. Reflecting on this later on in life, Prince realised that biblical love needed to be at the core of a successful relationship. Prince wrote his memoir on the 14th anniversary of his mother’s death. It was also the death of his dear friend, Denise Matthews, famously known as Vanity. Both had died of similar health issues. Both were headstrong. They both loved their Princes but refused to submit to them. During the song Adore at the Melbourne show, he said about Vanity: “She loved me for the artist I was and I loved her for the artist she was trying to be.” In Prince’s final conversation with Dan, he wanted to break down the song, “When Doves Cry” lyric by lyric. The song relates to both his mother and Vanity. He was like his father and Vanity was like his mother. He makes reference to the Bible many times throughout his memoir but in particular, the Song of Solomon. It appears he has taken inspiration from this book. In verse 1:15 it reads: “How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes are doves.” In Chapter 2:10 we see the mention of ‘my darling, my beautiful one” The most important reason he wrote the book was to take hold of the narrative of his life. As he states in the book, everything seems coded, but there are levels of meaning. When you’re familiar with his music this book helps you to further understand his spirit. To the majority he will remain the mysterious musical genius. This memoir is a genuine glimpse into the personal and private side of that musical genius.

  21. 5 out of 5

    John

    So, I finished this in one sitting, then sat back down and read it again. I can’t help but feel that this was a missed opportunity. I absolutely loved Prince’s memories of his childhood and growing to love music and the songs that touched him. Because of the brevity of that work—cut short by his untimely passing, it feels like there should have been more effort made to capture his legacy in this “memoir.” Instead, we get a cut and paste of lyrics, magazine clips, and personal and promotional So, I finished this in one sitting, then sat back down and read it again. I can’t help but feel that this was a missed opportunity. I absolutely loved Prince’s memories of his childhood and growing to love music and the songs that touched him. Because of the brevity of that work—cut short by his untimely passing, it feels like there should have been more effort made to capture his legacy in this “memoir.” Instead, we get a cut and paste of lyrics, magazine clips, and personal and promotional photos (and I’ll admit that many of those photos are wonderful!). But where is the story of Prince? He is and was so much more than the handful of handwritten pages copied and then transcribed here. Where are interviews with his contemporaries, his collaborators, and the family and friends to help weave together the greater mythology and reality of The Artist? This feels like a lackluster effort by publisher and estate to create a beautiful package (and it is a lovely book object, to be sure) with little heft (or exertion) in order to pay bills. A whole quarter of this brief book can hardly be considered about Prince at all; it’s merely the one-time coauthor of an unrealized other work writing about his meetings with Prince. And speaking of brief, there is a lot of negative space, underutilized deep margins, and even pages with a single chapter number. What!?! Maybe I expected to much. At least we have a photo book due later this month. My expectations, however, are duly tempered.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michael L.

    This is a bittersweet read, specifically from the chapter of Prince's own words. This is the part I enjoyed the most, and I was sorry when there wasn't more. His death still seems surreal to me. Three and a half years later, I still don't want it to be real, and some days, I have to remind myself that he is no longer here. I hate that. I have loved his music since I was a child, and still, for the most part, only listen to his music. For me, no one comes close. I listened to the audio, because I This is a bittersweet read, specifically from the chapter of Prince's own words. This is the part I enjoyed the most, and I was sorry when there wasn't more. His death still seems surreal to me. Three and a half years later, I still don't want it to be real, and some days, I have to remind myself that he is no longer here. I hate that. I have loved his music since I was a child, and still, for the most part, only listen to his music. For me, no one comes close. I listened to the audio, because I had fast access to it, faster than going to a brick and mortar store. Don't worry, it was a legal purchase. But I now find I want the physical book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    C.C.

    This is a quick read, but you won't quickly forget how it makes you feel. As a fan, it was amazing to see Prince's handwritten notes, lyrics, and memories. But, also as a fan, it is painful to imagine how amazing this memoir would have been if he had lived long enough to complete it. The vision he had for everything was on a whole other level than us mere mortals and I wished we had been able to see the finished product. Any lover of music, creativity or Prince will love this book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nate Jackson

    A bittersweet read, of course, but one that I'm glad saw the light of day. Reading his words, his thoughts, his secrets...this was like a diary of one of the most prolific songwriters of all time. I miss him more now.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Caterina Pierre

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It is difficult to review a book that you know was not completed entirely as it was intended. However, given the situation, I thought that The Beautiful Ones was as complete a work of art as could be imagined. The book is comprised of four parts: Dan Piepenbring’s introduction (already published in an edited version in a recent issue of the New Yorker), followed by a complete photographic copy of Prince’s handwritten manuscript, followed by a printed copy of the same; in the second section It is difficult to review a book that you know was not completed entirely as it was intended. However, given the situation, I thought that The Beautiful Ones was as complete a work of art as could be imagined. The book is comprised of four parts: Dan Piepenbring’s introduction (already published in an edited version in a recent issue of the New Yorker), followed by a complete photographic copy of Prince’s handwritten manuscript, followed by a printed copy of the same; in the second section (called For You) photos from a completely reprinted photo book that Prince made in 1977 are presented, followed by photos of handwritten lyric pages; this was followed by more photos and lyrics in a section called “Controversy”; and a final section (Baby I’m a Star) that reprints both the original handwritten treatment for the film Purple Rain, followed by a typed version of the same, with additional photos and lyrics. The book ends with extended notes on the photographs and lyric pages. So: it is part memoir and part photo book. In terms of “The Beautiful Ones,” we can see that Prince was as good a storyteller as he was a lyricist. His endearment for both of his parents rings deep and true. I was sad that they weren’t alive to read it. We also are given a glimpse of his first loves: music and girls, his first kiss, his more serious first crushes. Who were these women? Where are they now? How amazing it is that he remembered them all so fondly, and with such clarity. For all Prince’s turn towards a more monastic life, even at the end he wanted to discuss his sexual awakening. Prince scholars and fans will also learn a lot from the book, in terms of how he changed lyrics and how his original ideas for the film Purple Rain were softened and given nuance by Albert Magnoli. I think one of the most telling, and heartbreaking, aspects of the book was that we learn that most of the photos and lyrics and materials pictured in the book were kept at Paisley Park, on dressers, in frames, and in his vault. The fact that he kept a picture of his mother and himself at age two months in the vault for safe keeping was deeply moving. The fact that at the time of his death, he had a framed picture of himself with his late bodyguard Big Chick on his dressing room table was a beautiful revelation. He kept his father’s wallet, intact. He kept his own Prince memorabilia, proofs from Warner Brothers, vinyl labels, contact sheets. Prince, like the rest of us, missed his parents and his friends, and I lament only that he did not have enough time left to really get into his story and his beliefs about life, love, race, and all of us, his fans, too. But you know what they say about the beautiful ones; we always seem to lose.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Francis Coco

    Obviously, I wish Prince had been able to write the memoir he wanted to write. This is not it but I do appreciate the estate putting out what he had started and the photos of his family and personal polaroids were exciting to see. Not to mention the handwritten lyrics of Vagina, which I'd heard there was a song by this name but there hadn't been any information (that I had ever seen) so it was super exciting to see his handwritten lyrics to this song and others and his sketches. Another thing, Obviously, I wish Prince had been able to write the memoir he wanted to write. This is not it but I do appreciate the estate putting out what he had started and the photos of his family and personal polaroids were exciting to see. Not to mention the handwritten lyrics of Vagina, which I'd heard there was a song by this name but there hadn't been any information (that I had ever seen) so it was super exciting to see his handwritten lyrics to this song and others and his sketches. Another thing, in the few pages written by Prince, I was touched to see just how sweet he was. This didn't always show because he was so private. To find that he remembered the very first little girl who kissed him -- every single kiss- and even her name -- was so sweet. Also, to find that the girls he'd dated before he was famous seemed to mean every bit (maybe even in some cases more) to him than his famous friends and the stunning women he would go on to date and marry - (the high school girls were stunners as well) The love story between his parents was nice also -- and to find that his father still carried pictures of Prince's mother in his billfold years after their divorce was touching -- And they even showed the photos and the billfold! All of this makes this a definate must have for any Prince fan or anyone who wants to know more about Prince and where he comes from. I think, maybe, people who are not big fans and are expecting an actual memoir would be disappointed, as there isn't much from him but fans will appreciate all that there is, no matter how small. I loved the photos from his personal scrapbook with the cute little captions, but I couldn't help but think about, not long ago, coming across an old scrapbook of my own from decades ago and looking over it, thinking how I wouldn't want anyone else reading all my personal quips and things written under some photos (because now looking back, some things I'd written seemed so silly) and I can't help but wonder if Prince would feel the same way. This might have been too personal to share with the world. But, the estate has done a good job with taking the very little he did write and adding to it enough to make it well worth the money and a worthy book to add to your Prince collection. Now if they would just put out the Piano & Microphone shows from before he passed I would be so very happy....

  27. 4 out of 5

    Leah Agirlandaboy

    Worth a few hours for some good stories and a handful of unintentionally hilarious moments in Prince’s own writing. (Who would have guessed he was a fan of Rachel McAdams?) The long intro by the editor is the real strength here, and it’s a shame he didn’t get to see the book through as intended. The photos and other artifacts were fun. Prince’s affected writing style was like daggers in my eyeballs (what’s good for liner notes isn’t always good for extended prose, my good dude), but then what Worth a few hours for some good stories and a handful of unintentionally hilarious moments in Prince’s own writing. (Who would have guessed he was a fan of Rachel McAdams?) The long intro by the editor is the real strength here, and it’s a shame he didn’t get to see the book through as intended. The photos and other artifacts were fun. Prince’s affected writing style was like daggers in my eyeballs (what’s good for liner notes isn’t always good for extended prose, my good dude), but then what did I expect?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lisa K

    this book is fine but it is a little misleading to bill it as an unfinished memoir, it’s more the story of Prince’s #1 stan getting so jazzed to write a memoir that he never got a chance to finish... that being said when I get Britney’s number and spend three hours w her sometime in the future I expect everyone to read my entire dissertation on the three hours

  29. 5 out of 5

    Richard Kriheli

    Aw man, this book is great. So sad to read as it's only a taste of what was to come, which ultimately didn't. Prince has a good handle of storytelling, a lot better than I expected. Thank you to Dan Piepenbring for assembling this and helping Prince put out his first mini-draft of things for us all. I wish he were around to complete it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Shani

    Beautiful! I love it... I love Prince! I especially loved the copies of the lyrics! I truly miss this genius of a man!

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